Use these quick mini-lessons to teach students what theme is and how authors and artists extract a big idea:
Derive Inspiration: Use an inspirational quote (find some at values.com) to define a a theme and brainstorm stories, movies, or real-life events in which you see this theme play out.
Apply Art: Use art as a springboard to discuss themes and how they’re interpreted. For example, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” can springboard a discussion about the theme of fear and uncertainty.
Sing Along: Songs can lend themselves to a discussion of how artists communicate larger messages through lyrics. Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” lends itself to a discussion of independence.
Go to Grimm: Fairy tales are quick–hits in teaching theme—like pulling the theme of envy from “Snow White.”
Cover Art: Post covers of books you’ve read and have students discuss how the theme is, or is not, expressed in the cover art.