Lesson Plan

Determining the Theme of a Poem

Give your class a deeper understanding of theme with this art and poetry-focused lesson plan about theme. By the end of the lesson, students will understand what theme is and how to determine theme in a piece of writing, such as a poem.
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Common Theme Words pre-lesson.
View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Common Theme Words pre-lesson.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to analyze the details in the poem to determine the overall theme. Students will be able to summarize a poem.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments


(7 minutes)
  • Activate prior knowledge by having students discuss theme.
    • Ask: What is a theme? What are some examples of theme? How can you determine the theme of a text or poem?
    • Have the students first discuss with a partner, and then share their ideas as a whole group.
  • Read Hug O' War by Shel Silverstein to the class. As a class, talk about the words in the poem that indicate the theme of love/friendship: "hugs," "giggles," "kisses," "grins," and "cuddles."
  • Emphasize that careful reading of a poem will help to determine theme.


  • Offer sentence frames to support students during the partner and whole group discussion (e.g., "An example of theme is...").


  • Provide a word bank with common theme words for students to refer to during the introductory discussion and throughout the lesson.