Themes in Literature Central Message Summarizing 3rd 4th 5th Grade RL3.2 4.2 5.2

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  1. Strengthen your students' comprehension by providing the necessary tools to help them master some of the most difficult literature standards. This standards-based bundle includes many engaging activities that will help empower your students' to dig deeper into the stories they read, as well as make
    Save $8.25
  2. Strengthen your students' comprehension by providing the necessary tools to help them master some of the most difficult literature standards. This standards-based bundle includes many engaging activities that will help empower your students' to dig deeper into the stories they read, as well as make
    Save $8.25


Determining theme and central message in literature is one of the most difficult standards to teach and master. Provide your students with the proper tools and resources that will ensure students' success. This standards-based resource is LOADED with all the essentials necessary for teaching your students how to find the theme and central message in any story, including folktales, fables, or fairy tales, as well as successfully summarizing the stories during the process. Just print and teach!

With so many resources in this toolkit, you can scaffold or differentiate your instruction the way you see fit to best meet your students' needs. If you don't teach Common Core, you will still find this toolkit relevant and valuable to your instruction when teaching theme and central message.

Take a look below at what other teachers have to say about this essential theme and message resource!

This toolkit is part of a 3rd Grade and 4th Grade literature standards BUNDLE for over a 30% discount.

In this toolkit, you get:

An introduction to teaching theme and message. This understanding is key to effective instruction that guides students in the right direction with this expectation.

A colorful anchor chart that can be displayed all year and will become students’ go-to reference for helping them think about the big ideas and central messages found in the many stories they read.

Theme Definition Mini-Posters- defining each theme (compliments the anchor chart)

Student Bookmarks for theme reference

Double-Sided Flipbook- can be used with any story using the Somebody, Wanted, But, So method for summarizing literature

2 Journal Response Prompts (4 student copies to a page)

✅Colored graphic organizers (for retelling and determining theme and message) Make them into a poster and laminate so you can be used as a tool for modeled lessons throughout the year. It can be reused with each read aloud lesson.

Blackline masters of the graphic organizers for student copies that can be used…

  • ✍ during modeled lessons
  • ✍ as a writing response task to your read aloud (once students have had practice with it)
  • ✍ during students’ independent reading time (with self-selected stories)
  • ✍ as they listen to a story at a center or online
  • ✍ as a formative assessment task with any passage or story

Readers’ Notebook Vocabulary templates for learning theme vocabulary such as compassion, perseverance, etc.

Character Quote Bubble Activities- Students apply their knowledge of themes by creating character quotes

3 Mini-assessments to check understanding of theme vocabulary, identify themes of story scenarios, and a written response check for theme and message to be used with any story

Open Response and Rubric that can be used with any story

3 completed story samples to have at your fingertips as you begin to guide students through the process during your modeled lessons. (The Empty Pot, Seven Spools of Thread, & Ant and Grasshopper)

Theme Vocabulary Activities to help your students grasp vocabulary through application and real-world connections

3 Center Task Activity: (scaffolded from knowledge-base to application)

  • Matching Themes with Their Definitions
  • Matching Themes with Character Quotes
  • Matching Themes with Various Messages

Each center Task includes:

✏️ Center task directions for students (Colored Copy)

✏️ A set of Task Card Matches (in two versions: a colored version & a blackline version)

✏️ Student answer form (labeled with the common core standards)

✏️ Answer key

Note: The task cards are already mismatched on each page for your convenience. Copies can be given to students as is, and they can cut and match accordingly.

Visit my blog post for tips on teaching theme and central message.

PLEASE see the preview to view ALL the resources available in this toolkit.

Note: This toolkit provides multiple approaches to finding the theme & central message using questioning strategies, organizers, and activities that guide students' thinking.

See what other teachers are saying about this toolkit:

Carissa J. wrote- "This is an INCREDIBLE source for theme and message! It is the best one I have seen and I have researched a lot on what the most successful way to teach theme and the author’s message. My kids were so engaged during our week long focus on theme and message. 100% of my students were able to identify the theme and message of two stories on their Friday assessment. Thank you!!"

Danielle B. wrote- "Just like with your character trait resource, I LOVE your task cards. I use them whole group to introduce and practice the skill and then I keep them in our literacy center area, so the kids can revisit them more independently. I keep the posters hung while we are working on the concept and they are simple enough for the kids to really refer back to. This is a wonderful purchase!"

Virginia T. wrote- "I used this resource to help my students understand theme. The graphic organizers are wonderful! My students were able to track their thinking effectively and develop good theme statements. Great resource!"

I highly suggest you preview these character toolkits, as these resources go hand-in-hand with determining theme and central message.

RL3.3~Describing Character Traits, Feelings & Motives

RL3.6, 4.6 & 5.6~Distinguishing Point of View & Perspective

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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.


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