Theme is always a struggle to teach in the classroom. It is an abstract concept that so many readers struggle with. To help you get started, we have created a collection of anchor charts and printables. We have also shared a few of our favorite lessons that we found around the web. Have others you love? Please share in the comments below!
Anchor Chart This simple chart includes the meaning of THEME. Post it in the room to help students remember what they are focusing on.
Anchor Chart w/ Theme Ideas This chart includes more information. Along with the meaning of theme, it also includes a list of common themes found in stories. We have created a smaller version in black and white for students to save as a reference in their reading notebooks. THEME Anchor for Reading Notebooks
Graphic Organizer This organizer asks students to share the book title, theme and give evidence from the text. We have also created a smaller version for teachers who would like this to be placed in reading notebooks. THEME Graphic Organizer for Reading Notebooks.
Theme Search Use this graphic organizer at a center or as a class activity. You can choose to write in the themes of your choice before copying or have students choose their own. Gather a selection of books that address a wide range of themes and have students record books on their organizers.
Exit Slips We have completed two different versions. The first EXIT SLIP can be used as a quick check after a read aloud or at the conclusion of a small group. Students are asked to record the theme only. The second version asks students to identify the theme and one piece of evidence. EXIT SLIP TWO
Who doesn’t love a little FLOCABULARY? You’ve heard of Flocabulary, right!?! It’s a kinda amazing site with very catchy raps that emphasize important skills (you will definitely catch yourself singing them later in the day!) Lucky for us, they have one that includes theme. Check it out here: Five Elements of a Story
Along with using the anchor charts, graphic organizers and exit slips, we like the idea of having a spot where children can share their ideas with the class. We have thought about putting headings on the board with common themes (friendship, honesty, courage, etc.) As students work during independent reading, encourage them to write the title of their book on a post-it note and place it under the correct theme. As a wrap-up for independent reading, students can share their thoughts and give evidence as to why the book belongs under the theme. To get you started, we have created these headers for you: Theme Labels. The theme labels are provided as a Word Document so that you can change the themes as needed for your room.
We found this great idea from Jennifer over at I Teach. What’s your superpower? She suggests using those billboards you see everywhere with character traits as a way to help students grasp the concept of theme. You will find more here: Teaching Theme.
We like the anchor chart Abby at Third Grade Bookworm created to help students develop an understanding between the differences in theme and lesson. You will find this along with other ideas for teaching theme here: Theme vs. Lesson.
Amber’s anchor chart at All Things Upper Elementary is more in depth than others we have seen. It is designed to really help students narrow theme down to just one word and emphasizes that theme and lesson are two different ideas. You will find her ideas and anchor chart here: Teaching Theme: Anchor Chart.