Connecting To the Text - Identify Theme, Details, & Onomatopoeia (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT identify theme, details, and figurative language of a story; SWBAT make connections to stories that help them deepen comprehension.

Big Idea

Wild Rides - 2 Fun Stories to Connect!



This lesson uses several reading strategies, including connecting, to identify literature text elements, figurative language and point of view. I have taught several connecting lessons in this unit so far, so my students have learned a variety of ways to connect to the text, themselves, and the world. Those lessons include: I’ve Read Something Like This Before, Let’s Summarize and Act It Out , Go Deeper and Make Connections, Connecting To The The Theme With Elmer,  Key Details and a Theme-Make a Connection.  

I used this lesson and the next, Connecting to the Text-Compare 2 Stories (Day 2 of 2) as assessments for this Connecting unit, although you could use them also as an overview to connecting. If you teach other lessons (included in my 'Connecting' Unit), it would be possible to have students do these independently so you could see how well students connect.  

Let's Get Excited

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Get students excited: 

  • “I have a video about a tractor ride and a video about a roller coaster ride to show you that will give you an idea of what we’ll read about today.  Think about what sounds you hear when you watch these videos; think about what sound you would hear on these rides."
  • "Is there a similar theme between these 2 topics?"  Take ideas - fun, screaming, speed ... These authors address a similar theme to help us learn more about ways to have fun, but the books take a different approach."
  • "What would be the point of view or perspective of the people on the rides? What are they thinking? What do they see and hear?  The books we'll read are full of onomatopoeia to help us. We look at these to identify how the author shows the people on each ride feel and sets the tone of the story."
  • "We have been connecting to stories - Do you think you could connect to stories about these kinds of rides?"

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Explain Task

  • "I'll show you how to identify the story elements, theme, figurative language, and point of view of the 'tractor' story. You can help me make some connections to the stories to help deepen our understanding."


Modeling & Guided Practice with tractor book 

  • Read the book to the class. I wrote some words on the board to prompt ideas (dirt, backhoe, garbage dump)
  • Use the hand visual and literature text elements to identify the key details.
  • "I'll identify the setting - a junkyard. I think the characters were the tractor. Can you help me with the problem? Can you name some events? What is the solution?" Take ideas- guiding them toward 'he has a messy area to clean, he takes care of the tires, it's all clean at the end
  • "What's the theme of the book?" Take ideas - fun, getting dirty, joy
  • "Can you connect with this theme? Have you ever had fun getting dirty?"  Most of my kids of course identified with this theme, but a few did not because they hadn't played in the mud or didn’t like to get dirty.
  • "Let's identify some figurative language in the book. What onomatopoeia did you hear?"   Take ideas- "What is the point of view of the tractor?"  Sketch an idea on the board.
  • Here's my completed whiteboard.


As students acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters (RL.2.6), they are assessing how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of the text.  This is a focus on the Common Core Standards toward regular practice with complex texts that encourage students to look at author's purpose, characterization, tone and meaning.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now it's your turn with the roller coaster book."
  • "Listen as I read - you will be identifying key details and a theme, identify the onomatopoeia, and sketch a picture about the point of view of the characters."


Independent work with the roller coaster book  & comparison 

  • Read Roller Coaster
  • "Now I'll give you a few minutes to identify key details and think about a theme." 
  • "Add a connection to deepen your comprehension of the story. I bet there's at least one way that you can connect to the events, characters, problem, or setting."  Give kids time to work.
  • "Now let's write some onomatopoeia from the book-are any words that same?"  (I reread several pages and showed them to the kids- whee, zoom, zip, woosh)
  • "What about the point of view of the people on the roller coaster? Can you think of what they might be feeling, seeing, smelling, or hearing?  Take a minute to sketch their point of view."
  • Here's one of my student's completed worksheets.


Some students may need prompting, but allow them to at least put down a few ideas before you step in. As you walk around helping, ask them about their reasoning and see if they are using details from the text. 

Apply What You've Learned

15 minutes

Share ideas as a class

  • "Let's share the details, themes, figurative language and connections. Are they the same or different...."
  • "Tell me one of your details from the story." (characters or setting) "Who else had that detail?"  Kids should see that the details are different, although the plot line was similar.
  • "What about the theme? 'This student said her theme was 'helping'.  Did anyone else have that theme?  What is another possible theme?"  Take ideas. Kids will see that the themes are pretty much the same.
  • "Were there any onomatopoeia that were the same? How did the author approach the words that the people at the park said or thought?"
  • "Let's talk about your connections. "This girl connected to going on a dragon roller coaster. Did anyone else make that connection?"  For this part, I asked the kids to raise their hands. My kids loved sharing their answers this way and they discovered that connections are not similar. 


Wrap up

  • "We did a LOT of 'close reading' today with our stories. When we look at the text for the story features, theme and onomatopoeia, it helps us to get a deeper understanding of the story."
  • "We also did some connecting. It was interesting that the answers on your paper for text details, theme and onomatopoeia were all the similar, but your connections were different. Why do you think that was?"  (Take ideas.... our schema and background knowledge is different so we bring different experiences to the story.)
  • "As 2nd grade readers, we need to continue to do this close reading, but also look at how different stories approach a topic in different ways. It's important to realize that author's intent can change how a story is presented and our schema helps us to see and understand a story in different ways."


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

This lesson may be difficult for students who have language challenges. I worked closely and prompted those students in a small group.  Other students should be able to work independently, as long as there are prompts on the board.

Raise the expectations for students with more language ability.  They should be able to make some deeper connections - 'I like to be thrilled'  or 'My sister was terrified.'