Knowing how to teach theme is TOUGH! The concept of theme can be hard for kids to grasp. One of my favorite moments is when I see a kiddo finally understand how to analyze theme because I know it takes a long time to get there!
In this post, you will see how to teach theme to your students!
Theme is Not Just a Word
Theme is more than just the word “friendship.” I teach my students that theme is “family makes us stronger” or “teamwork helps you succeed.” Teaching them to really dig into theme, instead of just picking out of a list of words, helps the students become stronger at analyze text in the future.
How to Teach Theme Ideas
This is my FAVORITE lesson when it comes to theme! The students interview their parents to look at something that was really hard within their life. Then, they use that interview to determine THE MESSAGE that the hardship taught them. We use this to create a list of different themes that might come up!
Read Great Books
We read a lot of picture books when analyzing theme. Seeing examples is the only true way to understand it.
Click on the affiliate picture below for all of the books that we read throughout the theme unit.
Themes within a Movie
There is an amazing Youtube video that shows 10 different movies and their themes. We stop at each movie and discuss the theme and then discuss how we can apply that theme in real life! I also like them to try and think of other books they have seen this theme in!
Teach the Difference Between Theme and Main Idea
This is TOUGH. Kids are constantly confusing the theme with the main idea. I spend a whole day just teaching the difference. Suggestions for teaching this would be…
- Watch a PIXAR short and decide what the main idea is and then what the theme is.
- Read any picture book (we do The Hundred Dresses) and compare and contrast the theme and the main idea.
- Have your students write their own story with a different main idea and theme, so they truly get an understanding of the difference.
- Use an anchor chart!
- Play main idea and theme matching!
How to Teach Theme Practice Activities
- Look at many pictures to analyze a theme and see how it relates to real life.
- Look at theme cards and apply them to real life.
- Read many short stories and analyze the theme.
- Use EPIC to read a story and analyze the theme.
- Have students pick a theme out of a hat and then write their own story with that theme.
You can grab all of these activities already prepped and planned for you! All you have to do is print and go!