Psst! You can now download a *free* poster-version of this anchor chart! Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store here! (edit 10.6.13)
A few weeks ago, we took a two-day break from our core literacy series to spend some time studying Author's Message/Theme. I love working on theme with the kiddos, and REALLY love teaching literacy with picture books. Theme + Picture Books = literacy fun. :) Here's what we did...
First, I introduced theme by reading aloud "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." After reading we talked about the reason this story was first written: What was the author trying to teach readers? What message was he or she trying to get across? I like using "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" because the message is SO obvious, even the lower readers can catch it! I then share this anchor chart with them and go over the common theme topics and sentence frames.
Next, we read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I ask the students to listen for how Chrysanthemum changes and what she learns throughout the story. We then mark the "common topics" on the chart paper using post-its, and I model using these topics to state the theme. (We practice writing the theme as a complete sentence, not just a broad theme like "hope" or "friendship." For example, the theme we developed for Chrysanthemum was, 'It's important to accept and celebrate who you are.'" Note: It's important to clarify that the theme should not be specific to this book. I try to be really clear that the theme of Chrysanthemum is NOT, "Unique names are special."
After working with Chrysanthemum as a class, the kids broke up into small groups of 3-5 students. Each group was given a picture book and a piece of chart paper with an outline on it. They read the book, wrote a brief summary, then worked together to develop the theme. Finally, they recorded it all on chart paper and shared with the class!
This group read and responded to The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric--cute book!
Other great books for teaching theme:
- Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
- Terrible Things by Eve Bunting
- A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
- Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna
- The Wump World by Bill Peet
- Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
- Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
- The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka