Want a fun & hands-on way for your students to access theme? Well, if you're like me, then you have a plethora of quality picture books available in your class library. (If not, go raid your school library ASAP!) Why not put that engaging text to good use and in the hands of your students in a meaningful way rather than only utilize it as early finisher silent reading time? No desire to stand in line at the copy machine? For me, this activity is a great way to cut down on running copies since the students can easily create their graphic organizer on lined paper!
Teaching the literary skill of Determining Theme through picture books is not a new idea, but putting the picture books in the hands of my students is something new I'm trying out this year. I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. (Typically, I just read aloud a cherished text, we discussed the theme, and I called it a day and moved on ...)
For this activity, you can choose to have students work in pairs or independently. My students are social butterflies so they thrive in partner reading! As we get more practice with the skill, then they will move to more independent work.
Before setting them free with the picture book (predetermined by me), we review the graphic organizer they will be using. Students will write the title of the book they read.
I teach at a Thinking Maps school, so we use a one-sided multiflow map. If you want to save on time, consider purchasing my "Determining Theme" pack filled with what you need to teach theme successfully to your students. A printable graphic organizer is provided, along with a planning sheet for this picture book activity so you can select which students read each text.
Followers of my blog have free access to a similar planning sheet in Google Drive.
To differentiate for my advanced learners who will finish before time is up, I challenge them to consider another theme the text shows. As always, they will need to justify why, so they just write a couple of sentences explaining how they inferred the second theme.