First, we made an anchor chart together where we brainstormed themes and then some fictitious main ideas that could go along with the themes (remember, the students already had background knowledge about what theme and main idea are independent of one another).
The next day, they did a quick sort of main ideas and themes. This is when they really started to get it.
You can download the main idea and theme sort that I used for FREE at this link HERE.
|They sorted the definitions as well as a few examples of both main idea and theme.|
After they had answered these questions in pairs, we had a really great discussion about main idea vs. theme as an entire class.
Later, we started working on theme task cards using brief passages. We all started with multiple choice task cards, which gave students three options, one of which was the theme, and the other was the main idea (the third is just a detail from the story). For some of them who got it RIGHT AWAY, I had them select the correct answers, but then also rewrite the statements in their own words.
Then, the students who had a solid understanding moved on to paragraphs with no options. I did give them a card to help guide them, but they were generating their own main ideas and themes.
You can purchase these Main Idea Vs. Theme Task Cards at my TpT Store at THIS link. You can also use the paragraphs for main idea or theme alone.
In addition to having students complete the cards independently, I have also used them in small groups. I printed several copies for students to read and led the small groups through it orally. The stories were great for discussion and it allowed me to really see students who understood it quickly. It was also beneficial because after I had the students tell me what they thought the theme was, they could see that stories had multiple themes sometimes!
I really believe this helped my students better understand the difference between main idea and theme. I hope some of these ideas (and the freebie) can help yours, too!