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SWBAT identify the key details that support a theme.

Big Idea

How can funfetti cupcakes help us get creative and lay the foundation for later learning by finding key details in a story that relate to the theme? Read this lesson to find out ...


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

The main standard for this lesson is RL1.2 which is about identifying supporting details and a central message. I am focusing on the details and how they relate to the larger picture in this lesson, because this seems to be a challenging part of the standard. It also seems like picking the important details can be a prerequisite to determining the central message. So, I have broken this standard down and am doing a couple lessons on finding details that support a central message. Today we'll just look for how details can support the theme of a non-text topic, and from their we'll start to think about how text details roll up to support a central message in later lessons. Theme is a good place to start because usually the central message is what the author wants to say about the theme. I find the standards much easier to accomplish when I break them down into pieces that my students can master in one lesson.

Lesson Overview

The students help me label the colored sheets of paper on as the details about a theme on a huge white model cupcake. The spots are the details, and the theme is the whole cupcake. Then the students get a chance to do their own. Last, they share their work, and they get feedback on it from their peers.

Introductory Activity

Am assessing the students knowledge when I show them the box of Fun Fetti Cupcakes (Excitement), and I ask, "How are cupcakes like the details and theme?"  They are probably going to just laugh at me, but they are thinking. So, I share that we are going identify the details in a story and fill in the spots in Fun Fetti Cupcakes.

I have the students chant the objective with me, and then we start the fun!

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I go on to explain that the colored spots are the details and the cupcake is the theme. I tell them that each colored spot is a detail. I even tell them that the icing is a detail.  So, all these parts make up the cupcake.  The cupcake is the big idea.  The red spot, pink spot, green spot, and icing are details. 

I remind them that we have been studying theme.  I reflect on the previous days work and how we have compared theme to an onion and peeling the layers.

In the lounge area, I create the details about my family on each colored piece of paper for the model. Starting out with something separate from text seems to help lay a good foundation without overwhelming students.  I took colored paper and cut it into three big circles. Then I cut bulletin board paper as my cupcake.  So, I label it with the title, "My Family."  I explain that my family is the big idea and all the things I said about them are the details. 

Then I write a sentence about my family on each circle.  I tell them that they will do the same.  So, I am careful to use things that we might have in common.  I have a sister that teaches, my mom teaches, my dad is a veterinarian, and I have a son.  Then I review that these details are about my family.  So, I title it, My Family.  Then I label the theme.

Here are some videos you can check out to see how this part of the lesson went: Guided Practice Work and Our Work.

Partner Work

15 minutes

Students create their own version of the cupcake with details about their families.  After 10 minutes they share it with their partner. Their partner gives them feedback.  We do so much partner work that they do it naturally to get ideas.

Before they begin, I put this rubric on the board so they know the kind of expectations I have for their work.


  • 3 details- 1 point
  • 1 theme - 1 point
  • Goal - 2 points

If you have 4 points, you get a sticker.  If you don't, your partner has to help you fix it, and then you get a sticker.  I keep the stickers in tubs in the center of their tables.  They evaluate their own work often.

Here is an example of Student Work.

Class Reflection

10 minutes

We move from our desks to the lounge area.  Then I ask for three volunteers to share their work (Student Presentation).  This was a very exciting lesson and everyone wanted to share.  So, we continued the sharing in the afternoon.  

Allowing them to present gives them a great opportuity to practice their speaking and listening skills.  They also learn about their peers and develop a sense of pride in their work.  If I tell them they will have to pesent their work before we are finished they always go the extra mile to make it look great.


5 minutes

This is the time in the lesson when I try to use some form of formative assessment. At this point I ask the students to talk to their partner and tell them one thing they know about the details. Hopefully, somebody says it is they are like small spots on a cupcake or they are little pieces to the big picture. I listen then I share what I wanted them to learn.

Then we chant to lesson goal: I can determine details that support a theme.