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Theme Worksheets

Identifying the theme of a story can be challenging. It requires the reader to identify a main idea in the story. Then extend the idea to the real world. Fortunately, as with all reading skills, practice makes perfect. These theme worksheets will help students achieve mastery of this essential reading skill. I recommend starting with the theme PowerPoint lesson posted below. Also, you may be interested in my advice on teaching theme.

Theme Lesson – Slide show lesson teaching students what the theme of a story is and how to identify it.  The lesson also includes practice problems and examples of theme.
Theme Lesson PPT


Theme Lesson 2 – This is a slight revision of the theme PowerPoint lesson posted above. It contains different practice problems at the end of the lesson and a few other changes.
Theme Lesson 2 PPT

Theme Worksheet – Practice identifying themes in five short stories.  Read each story, determine the theme, and explain the answer. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
Theme Worksheet RTF
Theme Worksheet PDF
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Theme Worksheet 2 – Students read five original short story passages and determine the theme or message of the story.  Also, students explain how they got their answers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Theme Worksheet 2 RTF
Theme Worksheet 2 PDF
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Theme Worksheet 3 – Here’s another theme worksheet to help your students master this elusive skill. Students read the short stories and extract the message. Then they support their answers with textual evidence. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
Theme Worksheet 3 RTF
Theme Worksheet 3 PDF
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Theme Worksheet 4 – Being able to identify the theme of a story is an important reading skill. Being able to support your answer with textual evidence is more important. This theme worksheet requires students to do both. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
Theme Worksheet 4 RTF
Theme Worksheet 4 PDF
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Theme Worksheet 5 – Here is another double-sided theme worksheet. It has five passages from which students can extract a message. Students support their answers with textual evidence. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
Theme Worksheet 5 RTF
Theme Worksheet 5 PDF
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Theme Worksheet 6 – This worksheet contains another five short stories to give students practice identifying themes. Students read the short stories, identify the themes, explain their answers using text. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Theme Worksheet 6 RTF
Theme Worksheet 6 PDF
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Theme Worksheet 7 – This worksheet offers even more practice with identifying themes. Students read the short fiction passages and determine the life lesson of the story. They support their answers with textual evidence. These worksheets are aligned with Common Core State Standards. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
Theme Worksheet 7 RTF
Theme Worksheet 7 PDF
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Understanding Theme with Fables – Classic fables by Aesop without the morals. Students must draw conclusions to infer the meaning or “theme” of the fables. 4 pages, 15 problems. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Understanding Theme with Fables RTF
Understanding Theme with Fables PDF
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Understanding Theme with Fables Review – More classic fables by Aesop without the morals. Students infer the meaning or “theme” of the fables. 2 pages, 5 problems. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
Understanding Theme with Fables Review RTF
Understanding Theme with Fables Review PDF
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Common Core State Standards Related to Theme

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 – Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Theme
ELA Standards: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.2 – Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.2 – Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 – 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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 – 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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 – Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

View Source
Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

 

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176 Comments

  1. N.K.

     /  February 18, 2013

    Very useful sheets.

    Reply
  2. DTR

     /  January 31, 2013

    Do you have answers for the powerpoint?

    Reply
  3. Leisha

     /  January 26, 2013

    What a great resource! Thanks! I

    Reply
  4. moe

     /  January 22, 2013

    i think this website is really helpful we are learing this in my reading class

    Reply
  5. Abigail Bowes

     /  January 12, 2013

    As an Special Education teacher I am always looking for instructional resources to help my students access the general education curriculum. I have searched for lessons to teach the concept of theme to my 5th grade students with Exceptional Needs. Your PPT lesson plan and Worksheets are just what I needed. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Alison

     /  January 9, 2013

    Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making my life just a little easier. I have enjoyed reading your classy responses to the ones that disagree with your definition of theme. I’ve never understood the need to bash someone else’s viewpoint in public. As a middle school teacher, I agree with your defintion. I will be using your material in my class today. Thanks again!

    Reply
  7. Thae Su Kyi

     /  December 31, 2012

    This is a great website. Can I ask you whatever I want to know about literature. Please, be my teacher.

    Reply
  8. Jimmy

     /  December 28, 2012

    What grade is this for elementary?

    Reply
  9. Um,I’m getting confused from some of them.

    Reply
  10. RaShunna

     /  October 23, 2012

    Thanks so much. Very helpful.

    Reply
  11. Christian

     /  October 21, 2012

    Thanks soooo much! This website was so helpful!

    Reply
  12. Erin Lee

     /  October 20, 2012

    A THEME IS NOT THE MORAL OF THE STORY!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  13. A. Smith

     /  October 10, 2012

    Thank you very much. This is very helpful!

    Reply
  14. Michelle Daniel

     /  October 9, 2012

    What is the theme of the first story in the Power Point?

    Reply
  15. This looks great. Currently on a long term job with little to no lesson plans. Just stories….I am guessing what is supposed to be taught. Thank you so much!!!!!

    Reply
  16. Simona

     /  September 23, 2012

    Teaching children about themes is somewhat challenging. Thank you for sharing and helping others.

    Reply
  17. Lindsey

     /  June 27, 2012

    Really nice explanation of theme, accompanied by short, focused practice. Thank you for this resource!

    Reply
  18. Tanya

     /  May 22, 2012

    Thank you for posting these. My 6th graders were having a difficult time pulling out the themes. I used the fables in small groups. Each group answered the questions and discussed their choice of answers with the rest of the class.

    Reply
  19. Bob

     /  May 2, 2012

    Despite the information provided in the power point and worksheets, theme is not “a lesson or message in a story”; it’s a philosophical topic that the piece explores. These worksheets are teaching something like “the moral to the story” which is not what theme is. Theme is more open-ended. I wouldn’t suggest this for high school students, first of all, because it’s incorrect, and second because it’s far too simplistic.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your input, Mr. Bob. You seem to have outgrown your need for worksheets. Best wishes.

      Reply
  20. LT

     /  April 15, 2012

    Love the site. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  21. J. Duncan

     /  April 11, 2012

    What are the answers for the themes passages in the powerpoint?

    Reply
  22. Marla McDonough

     /  March 20, 2012

    So helpful…. The “worksheets” (which are so much more than just that) work great in the classroom. Thank you!!

    Reply
  23. Barbara Scheuter

     /  March 4, 2012

    Thank you for your theme worksheets. I was looking for a clear explanation to help my students understand theme and I think these will be great. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  24. Sarah

     /  March 4, 2012

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! The “Identifying Theme” stories are perfect. I can’t wait to try this unit out with my 7th graders!
    Thank you!!!

    Reply
  25. Teresa

     /  February 16, 2012

    I love this site. Alot of reading skills made easy. Thanks

    Reply
  26. SiskiyouSue

     /  February 13, 2012

    Thank you. These will be a big help!

    Reply
  27. Mrs. Mai

     /  February 11, 2012

    Two words.

    You Rock!!

    Reply
  28. Cindy Spencer

     /  February 10, 2012

    I have enjoyed using your site until today. I sent home a theme paper for homework last night that was not appropriate for 5th grade students. I should have proofread it, but it never occured to me that a story like that would appear on a 5th grade level worksheet. I will definately proofread from now on.

    Reply
  29. B. Kalis

     /  February 3, 2012

    Mr. Morton,
    What are your thoughts on theme vs. subject? Our Language Arts curriculum states that “the themes is the subject.” I disagree!
    Thank you for your insight!

    Reply
    • Yikes, I’d hate to get involved in a war of semantics:
      the great battle of tomato (toe-mot-toe) and tomato (toe-may-toe),

      but you’ve intrigued me.
      Knowing that this is a moot battle of opinions,
      I side with you, Kalis.

      I understand theme to be an implicit message that the author strives to communicate to the reader, one which offers wisdom or an alternate understanding of the world (for long);
      or, the message of the story (for short).

      Theme as subject doesn’t really make sense to me.
      Does that mean that the theme of Lord of the Flies is
      boys alone on an island or something?

      If so, I can’t accept that definition.

      Reply
  30. Student 107

     /  January 31, 2012

    Wow, in my langeuage arts class my teacher gives us the freedom to roam aroud the internet looking for resources and i didnt understand how to identify themes. i hope this help me and my friend on our test next week. Great and useful information!!! Thanks!!

    Reply
  31. Lida

     /  January 17, 2012

    Thank you. You answered some questions that we had about theme. I hope you don’t mind that I posted your Powerpoint on my website.

    Reply
    • I love links. You’re free to use my materials in any non-commercial manner that you please. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  32. Katie

     /  January 7, 2012

    Thank you! I have been looking for extra practice I can post on my website for parents and students.

    Here is a tip I’d like to share that worked wonderfully with my sixth graders: I made a station activity with fable posters that I had laminated and folded the edges over to make numbered flaps. I added Velcro so each flap stayed closed. Each group wrote their statement of the theme under their flap, and then got to look at how other groups had said the theme (often paraphrased, so we talked about that). Your stories would work perfectly for this!

    Reply
  33. Jacqueline

     /  December 19, 2011

    Very helpful. Thank you so much :o)

    Reply
  34. Cathie

     /  December 16, 2011

    Thanks, again. As a reading teacher for gifted students, I am always looking for supplemental materials for independent practice. You have made these worksheets interesting enough for them that it holds their attention. Additionally, I find them extremely useful as teaching tools for my “regular ed” students, too.

    Reply
  35. Ms. Navarro

     /  November 30, 2011

    Thanks so much! You have given me a great tool to teach theme to my 7th grade students.

    Reply
  36. T Fraga

     /  November 17, 2011

    I used this with my 7th graders today, and it was fabulous! The stories on the worksheet were entertaining and effective. Thank you!

    Reply
  37. laura

     /  November 15, 2011

    answers for theme worksheet 2

    Reply
    • The answers will vary. You’ll just have to use your best judgement and demand that the students adequately justify their answers.

      Reply
  38. Amanda

     /  November 14, 2011

    Do you have the answer key for the Theme Worksheet 2?

    Reply
  39. Mary

     /  November 5, 2011

    Do you have the answers to the slide stories in the ppt?

    Reply
    • Mr. Morton

       /  November 7, 2011

      Not currently, but if there’s an item that’s giving you trouble, run it by me.

      Reply
  40. The stories are great!!!!! Thanks!

    Reply
  41. Devin

     /  September 22, 2011

    For a first year language arts teacher your website has been a great resource!!!

    Thank you very much!

    Reply
  42. Thang Sian Tuang

     /  September 22, 2011

    thank you for sharing a bout the theme of teaching and the worksheet.By your help I could used your idea in my teaching.

    Reply
  43. Lori

     /  September 18, 2011

    Thank you so so much for all you have put on here, it has been a great resource for me and my students

    Reply
  44. Holly

     /  September 15, 2011

    I agree with Andrea H. Amazing site that I’m using a lot this year! Do you have any characterization stuff? I always feel like I don’t explain that well enough to my students. Thanks again!

    Reply
  45. Andrea Holder

     /  August 31, 2011

    In one month of school, I have already used so many of your worksheets. Your skills are so closely aligned to ours, and I love having the quantity on top of the quality. I don’t know what I did before I found your site. It is now my “go to” website. I have also sent the web address to everyone in my department. Thanks so much for all of it!

    Reply
    • Mr. Morton

       /  August 31, 2011

      Dang, Andrea, that’s some generous praise. I’m happy to help. Thanks for the referrals too.

      Reply
  46. Mrs. Davis

     /  May 15, 2011

    This is a great site this lesson will help me with my final paper in a great way.

    Reply
  47. Megan

     /  May 1, 2011

    Great site! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  48. Kyle Cooke

     /  April 21, 2011

    WOW! Thanks so much!

    Reply
  49. Angela

     /  March 22, 2011

    Would you happen to have answer keys for these worksheets?

    Reply
  50. Talassown

     /  February 19, 2011

    Nice site.

    Reply

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