So, I had a mini-break through this year with theme. (As opposed to a break down, which was earlier in the year trying to teach theme.) Here's how the lesson went:
Hey guys and gals! Can anyone explain what the theme of the story is?
(More blank stares)
(One brave soul) It's what the story is about?
No, not quite.
Sound familiar so far?
Then, I pulled up some billboards from values.com. I know you've seen them on the Interstate before.
I shared several of these over the next few days. We discussed the story behind the billboard and how one word was chosen as an idea that the story could teach others about. I read several to them throughout the week. After the first day or two, I asked them to put themselves in the role of teacher. If you were the teacher, what idea would you use the story to teach?
Voila! Theme. During this time, we also did an author study of Patricia Polacco. Her books are wonderful for teaching theme. She's one of my very favorite authors. I loved listening to their conversations about which idea the story could be used to teach about and why. On Friday, I let them get on the values.com website to see all the different billboards. It was a big hit. These billboards made a huge difference in my classroom!