Lesson: Theme: Through Problem and Solution

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to determine the theme of a short story by analyzing the problems and solutions in a narrative.

Lesson Plan

Warm Up (3-5 mins) Students are seated on the carpet with a partner.  Students will be expected to turn and talk with this partner during guided practice. Students read the objective.  Readers, for the past few weeks you have become experts as studying characters.  You have become really close with characters in your books and have even predicted their actions because you knew them so well.  Today, we will learn how to find a theme of a story. 

Instruction (3-5 mins) The theme of the story is the author’s message, or what they want you to take away from a story.  Sometimes a theme is can be a lesson or moral the author wants us to learn.  It’s important to remember that a theme is a broad statement so it should never include character’s names or actions.  You want to zoom out of the story to determine the big idea.  Today, we will find the theme of a story by noticing the problem and solution in a story.  Remember all stories have a problem and a solution.  These problems help us understand what the author wanted us to take away from the story, or the moral.

Modeling/Guided Practice (10-15 mins) Watch me as I use this chart to help me determine theme.  Teacher uncovers teaching chart for the day (this chart is a larger copy of the worksheet students will complete during independent reading time, refer to the attachment).  Teacher reads aloud The Crow and the Pitcher.  Teacher stops reading half way through the story.  I noticed that the Crow already has a problem in the story.  The Crow’s problem is that he is very thirsty and he cannot reach the water.  I will add that to our class chart. 

Teacher keeps reading aloud to finish the story.  Turn and tell your partner how the Crow solved his problem.  Students share their responses.  Teacher adds that the Crow solves his problem by adding pebbles to the pitcher to make the water rise to the classroom chart.

Great work readers! Now that we know what the crow’s problem was and how the crow solved his problem we can now determine the theme of the story.  I’m thinking the Crow learned a lesson during the story.  He never got discouraged and instead tried many different ways to solve his problem.  I think the theme of this story might be that you should never give up when solving a problem.

Readers, did you notice that I didn’t’ say the theme of the story is that the Crow was able to reach the water.  I made sure to zoom out from the story and create a broad statement that didn’t talk about specific characters or actions.  You all did such a great job finding the theme of our story.  Remember it’s important to read with a purpose and to walk away from the story with a message, the theme of the story.

Independent Practice (15-20 mins) Students return to their seats to complete their own theme chart/worksheet.  This is a very difficult skill so I actually pick a story to read aloud while students fill out their charts independently at their seats.  For example, I read aloud A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams.  I stopped at the beginning and end to allow students time to reflect and write about how the problem was developing.  They were expected to complete the entire worksheet when the read aloud was complete.

Exit Slip (3-5 mins) Students complete the theme chart as an exit slip to ensure all students mastered the objective for the lesson.  Teacher should review the chart to determine which students did not master the skill.


Reflection: Theme is one of the most difficult skills that I teach in the fifth grade reading curriculum.  Analyzing a story to come up with a theme, rather than simply identifying details in the text takes higher order thinking and comprehension.  I try to give students multiple strategies to determine theme.  One way I help students be successful in this lesson is by reading aloud the text.  However, if students do not need this help, the lesson can be scaffolded up for advanced readers.

Lesson Resources

The Crow and the Water Jug   Activity
Find theme through problems   Activity


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