Teaching Theme

So this is a limbo time of year.  We have 13 days of school left.  The kids should still be learning, but there's a fine line to walk.  If you try to go full school, they'll turn on you and rebel.  If you try to go all woohoo, school's almost out, they'll turn into wild monkeys and swing from the ceiling.  Which I cannot handle for 13 days.

So, I call this my time of year my "give a little, get a little" time.  You keep giving me some work and calm behavior, and I'll back off some in the school department.

Which brings us to theme, somehow.

Anyway, theme is hard.  Kids don't get it.  It's not easy to teach.  Perfect for the end of the year, right?  It is when you bring Patricia Polacco into the mix.  Sigh.  Love her.  We started off by reading My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and making this amazing anchor chart.

What do you do when you run out of chart paper?  Use the cardboard backing of course.

We are spending four days in small groups.  Each day, each group reads a different book.  I ordered these from Scholastic.

I enlarged this very fancy organizer onto 11x17 paper.  After reading the book independently, they meet in their groups to discuss the book and fill out the organizer.  If they have extra time, they're writing a Somebody/Wanted/But/So/Then summary chart on the back.  (Random-They are completely willing to write a summary chart.  Summary paragraph? No.  Chart? Yes.  Whatever, it's a summary.)

I have a pile of Patricia Polacco books (thanks Ebay!).  On the fifth day, they'll chose a book and complete the organizer and a summary chart by themselves.  I don't have enough books for everyone, so we'll be juggling that and independent reading.

If your school subscribes to United Streaming/Discovery Education (how many years and I still can't get used to it???), there are two Patricia Polacco Reading Rainbows: Applemando's Dreams and Rechenka's Eggs.  Love me some Reading Rainbow.

We're reading, we're learning, we're talking, and I may be getting some paperwork done during all this.  What more can you want for the end of the year?


  1. I think you said it perfectly! I too "give a little, give a little" although I've never called it that. Today I let them make penguins out of construction paper for 1 hour & 1/2 and THEN had them write a narrative about their penguin. Thanks for the ideas! :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  2. Love it! It's my first year in third grade and I was just thinking I'd like to do an author study. I still have a month to go *sigh*.

  3. We love Patricia Polacco in our class too. We ust finished up Thank you, Mr.Falker and used this great thinking map http://thinkingmaps.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Characters-Feelings-Change-F-T.jpg

    We start out the year with The Keeping Quilt, move on to Chicken Sunday, Just Plain Fancy, Renchenko Eggs, Mrs Katz and Tush and on and on. There are beautiful lessons to learn from each book. Did you know that you can mail one of your books to Ms. Polacco and she will kindly autograph it for you?

    Joanne M

  4. I love all 4 of those books!!! :) and Reading Rainbow too... ;-) aaaaand now I'm singing the song...
    ideas by jivey
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  5. I am all up on Reading Rainbow (thank you Discovery Education), which my kids sometimes make fun of, but I couldn't care less, it still gets a point across and is entertaining! Thanks for the idea :) I love the summary chart.

  6. LOVE Patricia Polacco. I have every one of those books :) I really need to work more on teaching the theme for next year, so thanks for the ideas!


  7. I like that you call it your "give a little, get a litte" time. I haven't really thought about it like that, but it is so true! Nice way to put it into words....:) Have a great day!
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  8. What a cool , activity! I love Patricia Polacco!!

  9. We just did theme last week! I really like how you did your lesson as an author study- we did it as a genre study with Aesop's fables. I will have to check into Patricia Polacco...I don't think I have any of her books. I do have quite a few Don Freeman...I betcha I could do the same thing the last week of school...

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  10. Thanks for the ideas! I love her books and they are great for teaching different aspects of reading!

  11. Pink & Say will get them ready for their 4th grade Civil War unit. Mine loved that book this year!


  12. I absolutely LOVE this idea! Pink and Say is one of my all-time favorites! I remember it being read in my children's lit class, and all us adult students hung on our professor's every word and ALL teared up at the end.....definitely using this idea, Megan. As always, fabulous!