Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

I Theme, You Theme, We All Theme for Ice Cream

Themes in Literature

K20 Center, Bobbi Gore | Published: August 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature, British Literature, World Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 50 minutes
  • Duration More 1-2 class period(s)


To assist students in their ability to determine a theme in literature, this lesson will introduce the concept of theme by using a children's book, although any piece of literature can be used with this lesson. Students will listen to a children's book, collaboratively distinguish between topic and theme, create topics and develop them into themes, and show off their final work using the Gallery Walk strategy. Students will consider how themes in literature might relate to their own lives. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 9th-grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 9 through 12, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

How do themes in literature relate to our lives?



Students listen to a reading of the book Should I Share My Ice Cream? Students jot down what they notice and wonder about the story.


Students work with a partner to create a list of topics from the book and develop those topics into themes.


Students create a poster and show off their themes in a Gallery Walk.


Students read the feedback provided by their peers and make final drafts of their themes.


Students participate in a Tweet Up to share what they learned during the lesson.


  • A copy of the book Should I Share My Ice Cream? or another children’s book

  • Large piece of paper and tape

  • Copies of "ITheme" handout

  • Copies of "Tweet Up - ITheme" handout

  • Writing materials: pens, pencils, markers, paper, etc.


Read aloud the book Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems. As you read, have students work on an I Notice, I Wonder.

  • Before beginning, have students get out paper and make two columns labeled "I Notice" and "I Wonder."

  • Have students write down what they notice and wonder as they listen.

  • Place students in small groups.

  • Allow the groups a few minutes to discuss what each individual noticed and wondered about the story.

  • The groups will then share out what they noticed and wondered.


Students will create a T-Chart on the back of their I Notice, I Wonder page and write "topics" on one side and "themes" on the other side. In small groups, students will brainstorm the differences between topics and themes. After a few minutes, the groups will share out their ideas and create a large T-Chart on the board.

Then, project the information on theme and topic from "Difference Between Theme and Topic" on a whiteboard or provide students with copies. Place students in pairs. Students will work with a partner to create a list of topics discussed in the book, Should I Share My Ice Cream? It is a good idea to model generating at least one topic as a class. Examples of possible topics are the concepts of friendship, sharing, and selfishness.

Once student pairs have listed their topics, they will work on turning those topics into themes. The attached Handout may be used during this portion of the lesson.


After student pairs feel comfortable with their chosen themes, they will record them on large pieces of paper that will be displayed around the room for a Gallery Walk.

  1. Pass out a large piece of paper to each pair of students. Have students write down their themes and then tape their papers to the wall.

  2. Partners will then walk around the room and read the themes that the other pairs wrote, leaving comments, suggestions, or questions about the themes for other students to read.

  3. Student pairs will then take their large pieces of paper, along with the comments provided by their peers, back to their seats.


Student pairs will take the pieces of paper listing their themes back to their seats and will discuss the feedback provided by their peers. Feedback should be used to decide if any changes need to be made. Students will then rewrite their themes, this time leaving off the starter, "The author believes ..." and will include any changes they feel need to be made. Student pairs will then share out their final drafts with the entire class.


Using the attached Tweet Up handout, have students complete a Tweet Up on how themes in literature relate to our lives.

  1. Have students "tweet" on how themes in literature relate to our lives. If social media is allowed, students can do this on Twitter. Alternatively, students can complete a Tweet Up using the attached handout printed for each individual.

  2. A "tweet" must be 140 characters or less, to keep students' answers concise. Spaces and punctuation count as characters.

  3. If using Twitter, make sure students send their tweets to you.

  4. Create a hashtag so the tweets are easy to find.

  5. Share the tweets with the class, or have students hang their tweets around the room and have another Gallery Walk.

  • @teacherhandle: The themes in the story were all statements I believe in and try to live my life by. #icecream