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What’s the Theme? The theme of a story is its big idea. It’s a message, lesson, or universal truth that goes beyond the literal events of the story. In other words, it’s an idea that applies to people in general—not just the characters in the story. An author doesn’t usually come right out and tell you what the theme is; as a reader, you need to infer it. A story can have more than one theme.




Teaching Theme Vs. Main Idea

Many students have difficulty differentiating between the main idea and the theme. The theme is the underlying message that the author wants to convey, whereas the main idea is what the story is mostly about. 


Finding the Theme



Theme - Khan Academy



How to ID Theme in Your Story




Theme - BrainPop




Finding Theme in Your Story -McGraw - Aesop






http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson800/theme.pdf -  The Literary Element of Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4qME64SkxM - Finding the THEME


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8muSkXjPHE - Theme - Disney - Cinderella


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RecVd-6g-IY - Theme - Star Wars - Brain Pop



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhEU3EF4jvM&list=PLvXg7TzijvVWP7O2HBH6XY-eFSQg8iEZc - Disney Film Clips - Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvKzyYy6qvY&list=PLGniCcA0UBfEa6j7ZljW_lceQM83kU_94 - Theme in Movie Clips


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXPbijjMnV8 - Theme in Aesop's Fables - Cartoon




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3PJkPsW8_M - Theme in Songs


https://www.scholastic.com/content/dam/teachers/blogs/angela-bunyi/migrated-files/identifying_theme.pdf - Identifying Theme - Scholastic PPT




https://prezi.com/9uiflfi3pikg/how-to-identify-a-theme-in-four-steps/ - Theme -  Prezi



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXPbijjMnV8 - Theme in Aesop's Fables




Theme chart - great for reading notebook. Also a great way to get ready for a book report 



Theme Anchor chart and ideas for teaching themeTeaching Themes, Theme Anchor Charts, Common Core Writing, Languages Art, Theme Anchors Charts, Theme Charts, Anchor Charts Theme, Common Cores, 720 960 Pixel




The theme is the underlying message that the author wants to convey, whereas the main idea is what the story is mostly about.




Teaching Theme vs. Main Idea


Theme & Plot Video - https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teaching-themes


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6GCe7hmmA - Theme - You Tube


https://www.flocabulary.com/unit/theme/ - Theme - Flocabulary


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3PJkPsW8_M - Theme in Songs






http://www.paterson.k12.nj.us/11_departments/language-arts-docs/resources/Reading%20Resources/Story%20Elements/Theme/Theme.pdf - Theme Worksheets


Working with Theme:


  • Use Annotation: Have students annotate a text with details, quotes, and other “golden lines” that highlight the theme.
  • Tweet the Theme: Laura Robb, reading specialist and author of Differentiating Reading Instruction, loves Twitter’s concise format. Assign students to sum up the theme in 140 characters or less.
  • Record Reader Responses: Writing responses to the essential question from a unit’s start to finish will help you see how students develop their ideas.
  • Reflect: Have students reflect in writing and discussion on what the theme means to them and how understanding of the theme has changed based on their readings.
  • Look for Additional Themes: Using a story that students are familiar with, have them identify and support a theme that’s different than the one you’ve already studied.
  • Listen for Theme: In reading conferences with students, train yourself to listen for specific details and examples about theme. The more students are understanding, the better they’ll be at answering questions like “What does the author want you to remember?”



Studying themes can be tough for students. Here are 6 ways to assess if your students are getting it.:




Theme anchor chart. Help students learn about the theme of a story. For more anchor charts visit: https://www.pinterest.com/eclearning/elementary-anchor-charts/



Common Themes in Literature





Picture 9



https://www.quia.com/rr/934941.html - QUIA - Theme in LIterature


https://www.weareteachers.com/tag/fairy-tales/- Fairy Tails & Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6GCe7hmmA&disable_polymer=true - Teaching Theme - Youtube




Yes, even teachers get overwhelmed trying explain 365 different ways.  This will be a great anchor chart in the class.   Check out the website - great ideas.




Finding The Message—Grasping Themes in Literature: This teacher blog post has lesson ideas for teaching theme, lists of book by theme, and a graphic organizer.


Thematic Essays


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQYdhioelJ0 - Theme Essay - Youtube


http://yanaenglish.weebly.com/sample-thematic-essay-the-hunger-games.html - Thematic Essay - The Hunger Games


https://web.jerichoschools.org/hs/teachers/lfischer/writing/thematic_essay_outline.pdf - Thematic Essay Outline - Jericho PS


https://www.lcsd.wednet.edu/page/704 - Literary Essays - Analysis




Theme - Identifying in Literature


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKjw-bQdBY8 - Writing a Theme  Statement


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXPbijjMnV8 - AESOP - ID Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3_Bb9wGObY - Finding Theme in Literature


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8muSkXjPHE - Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6GCe7hmmA - Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSPO194N0OU - Finding Theme in Stories


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3PJkPsW8_M - Theme in Songs


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTr1XaTqHD4 - Theme - Schmoop


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JizzEzcuK98 - Disney Theme


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RecVd-6g-IY - Brain Pop


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2LXmhPD3iA - Finding Theme in a Story






https://www.ereadingworksheets.com/free-reading-worksheets/theme-worksheets/ - Theme Worksheets



Writing a Thematic Essay








Themes and Conflict in Children’s Stories



Types of children's wants:


  • They want acceptance by their peers.
  • They worry about their position in the family and how the family functions.
  • They are concerned about their physical growth: their size, their looks, etc.
  • They are striving for a positive self-image, their own view of themselves.
  • They wonder what the future will hold (their own, society, and the world)


Themes found in children’s books include:


  •  New baby 
  • learning something new
  • participating in a new activity
  • going to a new place
  • losing something  
  • Moving
  • First day of school
  • New friends vs. old friends
  • Change
  • Our differences
  • Feeling sad
  • Different kinds of families and homes
  • Seasons
  • Bedtime
  • Bath time and getting dressed
  • Sharing
  • Using your words instead of hitting
  • Holidays
  • Cultures and religions
  • adventures
  • getting lost and finding your way home
  • going to bed
  • fighting
  • being brave
  • sharing
  • telling the truth
  • friendship
  • thinking of others before yourself
  • explaining how you feel
  • learning to spell, add, tie shoes, ride a bike, etc.
  • how to resolve arguments
  • disappointment




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