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The theme of a story is a message that the author is trying to express. The author does not explicitly state the theme. To discover the theme, the reader must make some deductions concerning events in the story.
Identifying the theme of a story can be challenging. Fortunately, as with all reading skills, practice makes perfect. These theme worksheets will help students achieve mastery of this essential reading skill. I recommend starting with the theme PowerPoint lesson posted below. Also, you may be interested in my advice on teaching theme .
I hope that these theme resources help students meet learning goals.
Theme Common Core State Standards
Thank you! during my winter break I have been reading your worksheet and powerpoint which will help me when I return. I am a beginners teacher. ELA/ICR teacher. Again thank you. Just what I needed.
Thank you very much, you relly of big help to us
And – to add – this is an awesome resource. Thank you so much for sharing it!
How do you find the students’ results? Not sure where to find report if there is one? Thanks!!
They have to send them to you. I will look into the Classroom API again soon, but last I checked, I couldn’t do what you and I both want it to do.
I really appreciate having a resource like this! It makes lesson-planning so much easier, especially when you can edit the resources to differentiate for students. Thank you so much for all of this!
The useful website
I love this site because it tells you everything we need. I think this is a pretty neat website, thank you.
Hi, I was wondering could you send me a full sample essay about the theme so I could get a better understanding of it. Thank you.
fourth grade Time for themessage Key-theme
Analie S. Canete
Thank you so much for helping me be ready to teach my students. It’s a big help that makes my work easier and more effective! God Bless!
Thank you for the blessings!
could you please provide an answer key to these lessons because I can’t tell if I am correct with my inferences. I understand how to identify them a little better, but if I knew I was correct it would help me and maybe some others with how they should think and if they are in the correct mindset It would help them indulge in positive reinforcement please read this and consider others learning process in your decision.
There are answer keys. Click the links that say “View Answers” underneath the assignment sheets.
the objective of my lesson is to explain how the elements build its theme, would you mind to please provide me materials for the evaluation of my lesson.tnx much
I loved these passages and powerpoint! I used them for my fourth grade class and they were right on target for their level. Thank you!
I want to express my gratitude to you for providing these wonderful resources-free of charge! I love visiting your site.
In our lessons we are studying the difference between moral and the theme but in your pdf s it kinda says that there are the same thing. so what is the difference between them. Thank you 🙂
They are similar, but a moral is usually explicitly stated, where a thematic statement is implied.
at first i thought this would be a bad website, but now i stand corrected this site has helped me and my classmate with numerous amounts of classwork and homework
A very helpful course for both student and teacher. Thank you very much for such high quality lessons.
Thank you very much for the great resources. I’ve been engaged with searching for such materials very long! and they are helpful for me and my class at school. And thank you for the great website!!
I will be teaching an online short story class this summer for the first time. I’m new to this and so am looking for material to help myself and the students. I believe I will get paid for teaching the class so I am asking permission to use EReading materials since I really love them and want to use them in the class. May I have permission?
hi Mr.Morton. i am having trouble on a theme packet that my teacher assigned me for homework . i do not understand what a theme is. can you help me??????
Theme is the message of a story, the lesson that the author intends to impart through his or her story. So, read the story and ask yourself, is there a lesson to be learned here? Put that lesson into words, and you can say that you have found a theme in the story. Best wishes!
After reading the comments, they struck home for me. My colleagues and I are always discussing the definition of theme. For me, I think it is fair to differentiate for the student between universal and literary theme.
I make sure to talk to students about the definition of Universal Theme, one word, and the literary theme described here. Sometimes my at-risk students have to zero in on the one word before they can get to the generalization. If not, I end up with a main idea or plot summary instead.
I hope this helps, or adds to the discussion.
Great contribution. Thank you.
I appreciate these lessons and the guidance you provide! I am a beginning teacher, and I feel frazzled at times about how to put things, but your resources are very helpful. I was wondering, how did you become so good at creating lessons? Were there any books that helped you? Or was it time and practice that helped you organize your plans and lessons so well?
I like to think that I have a way of getting to the point. I can’t recommend any books or resources that helped me out in any significant way. I can only point to the amazing teachers who inspired me and helped me grow. I’ve worked at some pretty messed up schools, but no matter how bad things were at times, there were always amazing people doing amazing things. I will never be the superb disciplinarian that Mrs. Smith, Mr. Dillard, or Mr. Tang were, but I’ve taken a little piece of them with me. I will never be as organized or as motivating as Mr. Phoenix was with his students, but I carry a little piece of him with me.
Find the teachers that inspire you. Fight to observe them. Take what you can.
That’s pretty much the best advice that I can give you about that topic.
Thank you for visiting my site and posing such an interesting question.
I, too, love this site and appreciate the information and activities. It is so helpful… I was wondering if you could add some expository writing activities.
Like these expository writing prompts or did you have something different in mind?
THANKS so much. This site is great. I almost lost it on a student today who was trying to tell me theme was one word after I have spent a month teaching these juniors in high school that it is a sentence!!! This site is awesome!!
Ha ha. It’s funny you say that. I’ve gone back and forth with terminally educated adults about this. I think a Common Core ELA glossary (like the one that they have for mathematics) would go a long way in resolving this debate. I also think that the word motif better fits the “a theme is one word” thing. Anyway, thanks for visiting the site and taking the time to comment. Best wishes!
You are the best. I am at a loss of words oh how to express my gratitude to you and this website that you have created. AWESOME-RIFIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love the word that you invented. Thank you for visiting.
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Determining Theme Activities and Ideas
Trying to help your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students understand how to determine the theme of a story can be extremely challenging. It is a difficult to concept to grasp, as theme is such an abstract idea that must be inferred. Texts can have more than one theme, and sometimes the theme is subjective. In order to distinguish the theme from the main idea, students must have a solid understanding of main idea as well.
All of this can make theme incredibly frustrating to teach to upper elementary students. Hopefully, the theme resources below will help make teaching theme easier and less stressful.
Thee theme activities and resources below include:
- ideas for scaffolding your theme lesson plans so that students will better understand how to determine the theme of a story
- higher order thinking questions you can use while teaching theme to help students think theme in different ways
- helping students distinguish between main idea and theme
- theme games and center activities
- a free cut and paste theme resource
- a free slideshow to help you teach theme to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade
These ideas will help you teach theme in a way that students will actually understand. Scaffold your instruction by teaching each difficult aspect of theme in isolation so you can more easily identify what students are struggling with.
Use these 36 questions when teaching theme to your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. The questions are based on the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy and help you ask a variety of questions instead of just "What is the theme of the story?"
Use this free theme slideshow to help your students practice determining the theme of a story and distinguishing between theme and main idea. These activities are ideal for upper elementary students.
This cut and paste freebie for teaching theme asks your students to sort 6 short paragraphs based on the theme of the story. This short activity can be used as a center or to help introduce your students to theme.
These games and center activities will help your students practice determining the theme of a story / fiction text. This is an engaging way for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to better understand theme.
For some no prep and low prep activities that will help your students better understand how to determine the theme of a story, check out:
Determining Theme Bundle
It includes reading pages with scaffolded activities, cut and paste activities, graphic organizers, centers, writing integration, games, a list of common themes, and more. These activities are designed to help students practice theme with scaffolding in a variety of ways so that they truly understand.
The activities above are geared for third, fourth, and fifth graders, but can easily be adapted to 6th grade students that need to review or practice theme. The activities address some of the following Common Core Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
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Teaching Theme in 4th Grade – 5 Fun & Exciting Tips
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ELA is so much fun to teach. Reading short stories, fables, and novels with your class is such an amazing experience. Your students have likely experienced a few years of learning about summarizing, main idea and inferencing. But identifying the theme might be something fairly new for them in fourth grade. Here are 5 tips for teaching theme in 4th grade that will help your students master this important concept.
Teaching Theme in 4th Grade
Theme is the moral, lesson, or message of the story. It is the BIG IDEA. Note that this should be differentiated from the main idea that students have already learned about. When first introducing the concept of theme it’s important to create an anchor chart or reference tool for students. These Theme in Literature Posters include everything you need. Print these posters and use them on a bulletin board, on chart paper, or copy in a smaller size so students can put them into their notebook. They are perfect for referencing the concept of theme all year long.
Here’s a great way to guide students to finding the theme: while reading have your students ask themselves what the author is trying to portray repeatedly throughout the story. Have them pay attention to the characters actions and words to help them find out.
Themes help the reader to connect the story to real life. Students are able to relate to characters and their struggles through the use of theme. Some common themes used throughout literature are:
See how this is really a BIG IDEA! It’s an over-arching broad topic as opposed to something that is story specific. Sometimes theme can be a hard skill for younger students to grasp because it is so abstract. With the use of different strategies, your students will have it down in to time at all. Here are 5 tips for teaching theme in 4th grade.
#1 Teaching Theme with Fables
Fables are a great place to start when teaching theme. Why? Well, fables usually have a very clear lesson or moral. This generally lines up with the theme and makes it easier for students to learn and understand what theme it. They make it easier for students to understand exactly what theme is and be able to identify them in a story because they are shorter in nature. And . . . since they aren’t as overwhelming as longer stories they make great examples for mini-lessons and guided practice.
These fable based theme reading passages will provide your students with focused theme practice. They are a great addition to those first lessons on theme when students are just learning this concept. They are also a great place to go when you have students struggling with the concept of theme too!
#2 Theme Graphic Organizer
Graphic organizers are a great tool in the classroom. They are generally structured in a way that they help to guide student thinking about a specific skill or concept. Graphic organizers can be used when teaching theme too! In this Theme Graphic Organizer students don’t just stop with identifying the theme, but they are challenged to find evidence from the text to support it. This is a great way for them to check their theme choice and make sure it is supported by the story.
Graphic organizers can be completed together as a class or individually by each student. They can be a stand alone worksheet activity or added to a students reading journal or interactive notebook. This graphic organizer also makes a great theme focused reading response activity for independent reading time.
#3 Theme Mini-Book
Mini-books are a fun spin on graphic organizers. They provide the same theme content but in a different form. Sometimes it is as simple as changing up the format of an activity to really engage students attention. In this theme mini-book students will identify what the theme is, provide text based evidence, and even add an illustration.
The foldable book is super easy to make with no cutting or stapling required. It’s definitely something your students will be able to complete independently! It’s a great addition to a class novel study or with independent reading.
#4 Theme Foldables
Foldables are great to use in interactive notebooks or reading journals. They are another hands on activity that has a high engagement rate. We can use foldable to teach and practice theme. By incorporating foldables into a reading notebook, students have a great reference tool that they can use in the future too!
A great thing about teaching theme in 4th grade is that it’s not the activity that needs to change, but rather the story or book. Students can repeat the same foldable for different books or stories in order to gain a deeper understanding of theme and how it changes.
#5 Incorporating Theme into Writing
Once you feel like your students have a pretty good grasp on what theme is, you can ramp up the thinking skills. Have students apply what they know about theme into their own writing! After digging into a variety of stories and hunting for text evidence, your students will love trying to weave a theme into their own story.
This Guided Theme Writing Activity will help them plan out their story and their theme. It’s no easy task to weave a theme into a story, but your students will love the challenge. After writing, share the stories and let class take a guess as to the theme the student author was trying to include.
Fun & Exciting Resources for Teaching Theme in 4th Grade
All of these fun activities for theme can be found in my Teaching Theme packet. All five of these activities are included and ready to use. Not only can they be used with your initial lessons on theme, but the activities can be used again and again throughout the year as students practice identifying the theme.
If you like these ideas for teaching theme in 4th grade, then you will also love these reading bundles filled with similar activities for other reading concepts like author’s purpose and figurative language. Grab these reading bundles and be prepared for all your reading instruction needs this year!
Save these ideas for Teaching Theme in Fourth Grade!
Pin this to your favorite ELA Pinterest board so you can come back the next time you need a fresh, new activity for teaching theme to your fourth grade students.
Hi, I’m Shelly! Thank you for being here. I love helping third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers with fun and engaging activities that require no to little prep! Let me help you by taking some of the stress and work off your plate.
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4 Fabulous Ideas for Teaching Theme
Teaching theme in fourth grade is not easy, but it is very rewarding to see the students’ little light bulbs come on! In my experience, students need many opportunities to find theme in stories, and I love giving my students a variety of ways to do this.
To introduce the concept of theme, I love using picture books. Using picture books as model text is one of my favorite things to do in reading, and for me, it is a great way to introduce theme. Some of my favorite picture books for teaching them include:
After reading aloud Sister Anne’s Hands, the students and I worked together to chart the character’s words and actions, our inference, and the author’s message of the story. This modeling activity helped my students tremendously in understanding and finding theme. This year, I actually began teaching theme by reading this book aloud to the class as a model text. We discussed and “turned and talked” throughout the story. we then worked together to create the anchor chart. Finally, I paired up the students and gave each pair the books that I listed above (in #1). After partner reading the picture books, students worked together to create charts in their journals similar to the chart above.
I hope you found these ideas helpful for your own classroom! Thanks so much for dropping by, and have a blessed day!
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Theme Worksheet 4 Being able to identify the theme of a story is an important reading skill. Being able to support your answer with textual evidence is more important. This theme worksheet requires students to do both. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8. Theme Worksheet 4 Links Preview Edit Print Answers Online Theme Worksheet 5
helping students distinguish between main idea and theme. theme games and center activities. a free cut and paste theme resource. a free slideshow to help you teach theme to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. These ideas will help you teach theme in a way that students will actually understand.
Teaching Theme in 4th Grade Theme is the moral, lesson, or message of the story. It is the BIG IDEA. Note that this should be differentiated from the main idea that students have already learned about. When first introducing the concept of theme it’s important to create an anchor chart or reference tool for students.
4 Fabulous Ideas for Teaching Theme Teaching theme in fourth grade is not easy, but it is very rewarding to see the students’ little light bulbs come on! In my experience, students need many opportunities to find theme in stories, and I love giving my students a variety of ways to do this. Picture Books