Theme is one of the most difficult concepts, in my experience, for 6th graders to grasp. About half way through the year I do this activity to help them think about the themes in the stories we have read together.
List of stories read as a class (include any read aloud books and stories from textbooks)
Theme Posters from Finding Common Themes in Fictional Texts
Post-Its (or whiteboard and markers)
1. Review theme (what is it, how do authors share it with the reader, etc.)
2. Introduce the theme posters and explain each theme
3. Set up groups of 3-4 students (I usually do this ahead of time so I can make sure my ELL students are with stronger readers)
4. Give students the list of stories and have them write each title on a post-it. Ask them to decide, as a group, where each story fits with the theme posters.
5. Once they have made a decision they put the post-its up on the board where you have placed the theme posters (The other (more frugal) option is to let them write the titles on the whiteboard)
After the lesson is done I set up a bulletin board with the posters and the final results. We continue to add to the board as we read stories together. I find that this activity helps my students see that theme is found in all kinds of stories and it also works as a constant reminder that we should be looking for the themes in fiction as well as life.
CCCS 6th Grade
*Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details
*Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.