Here's a freebie to help your students work through determining the theme of a story, drama or poem.
Although it can be used in any manner that works best for you and your students, I intended for kids to identify the big idea or topic of the text (a blank space is available for students to write in their own). Then provide at least three pieces of text evidence of that big idea. Finally, students then create a statement about the theme by asking themselves what message the author is conveying about the big idea.
This allows students to have a jumping off point, clear up any misconceptions if they can't provide evidence of the big idea, and see the difference between a one or two word big idea and a clear statement of the theme or author's message.
Hope this works for you!