Identifying the theme of a literary work can be tricky to learn. How is theme different from main idea, and how do we know what the theme is if the author never says it explicitly? Like anything else, practice makes perfect when discussing literary themes. Check out these theme anchor charts to help your next language arts lesson run smoothly.
1. Themes in literature
Using examples of stories students already know and love is a helpful tool.
Source: Crafting Connections
2. Theme vs. main idea
Students often confuse theme with main idea. Make the distinction between the two with an anchor chart such as this.
Source: Michelle K.
3. Examples of theme vs. main idea
Use examples students will relate to, so they can differentiate the theme from the main idea.
Source: Mrs. Smith in 5th
4. The central message
Have your students think about these questions.
Source: The Literacy Loft
5. Common themes
Give your students examples of common themes to help them think of others stories that may share these same themes.
Source: Teaching with a Mountain View
6. Text messaging
A text message approach to theme will resonate with students and create an engaging lesson.
Source: Elementary Nest
7. Use examples
Give examples of what is or is not a theme with a book the class has recently read.
Source: Young Teacher Love
8. Sum it up
This chart nicely sums up all aspects of theme for students to refer to.
Source: Mrs. Peterson
9. Clouds and raindrops
This weather-themed chart is too cute and fun to pass up.
Source: Bussing with Mrs. B
10. Story theme
Use evidence from stories your class knows and loves to pick out the theme.
Source: The Thinker Builder
11. Thinking about theme
Define and discuss theme with the class. What is theme? How do I identify it?
Source: 3rd Grade Thoughts
12. Interactive sticky notes
Place sticky notes on this chart to point out plot details to arrive at the theme.
13. Stated or implied
Is the theme stated or implied? Show the difference with this fun layout.
14. Keep it simple
This one gets the message across and won’t overwhelm students.
Source: Upper Elementary Snapshots
15. What is theme?
Determine examples of each theme with sticky notes.
Source: Appletastic Learning
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Plus, check out tips for teaching theme.