Jennifer Bauer
Literature, Elementary Education, English Language Arts, Reading Foundation Skills
Material Type:
Upper Primary, Middle School
  • Literary Elements
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Theme
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Video

    Education Standards

    Identifying the Theme: Salt in His Shoes

    Identifying the Theme: Salt in His Shoes



    Are you looking for an enticing way to introduce identifying the theme of a story to your students? This lesson on identifying the theme of a text was created by Jennifer Bauer as an introductory lesson to understanding and analyzing a text to identify a common theme within the text. This lesson engages students by using the read aloud "Salt in His Shoes", a storybook on Michael Jordan's struggles as an adolescent, as a way to gain an understanding of the literary element of theme. 

    This English Language Arts lesson is designed for Grades 3-5, but could also be adapted for middle school students as well. 

    This lesson plan addresses the following NDE Standards:

    LA 3.1.6.d Summarize a literary text and/or media, using key details to identify the theme. 

    LA 4.1.6.d Summarize a literary text and/or media, using key details to identify the theme. 

    LA 5.1.6.d Summarize and analyze a literary text and/or media, using key details to explain the theme.

    It is expected that this lesson will take students 60 minutes to complete.



    The students will read, summarize, and use textual evidence to identify the theme of a text. 

    The purpose of this unit is:

    The purpose of this unit is to develop an understanding of theme in literature. 

    Nebraska State Standard Addressed:

     LA 4.1.6.d Summarize a literary text and/or media, using key details to identify the theme.  

    Student Friendly Nebraska State Standard:

    4.1.6.d I can use key details to identify and summarize the theme of a story.

    Content Area Skill:

    Skill #1: Reading Comprehension

    Skill #2: Identifying Theme

    Duration of Lesson:

    This lesson will take a 60 minute class period. 







    Task 1 (Attention Getter):

    Attention Getter:

    Before beginning the read aloud, the teacher will show several different images of Michael Jordan to the class, along with reading several of his quotes.

    The teacher will ask the students if they know who Michael Jordan is and lead a discussion on his famous basketball legacy.

    Students will be asked to think of how he achieved becoming such a successful basketball player (hardwork, passion, determination).

    The teacher will then explain to the students that today's lesson will teach them to identify the theme in a text. A theme  is a universal idea, lesson, or message explored throughout a work of literature. Some common themes in reading are being a good friend, showing kindess to others, working hard pays off in the end, courage, determination, etc. 


    Task 2 (Read Aloud):

    Story Time for Kids with POWER ASC/Salt in His Shoes/Children's Book Read Aloud

    The teacher will then explain to the students that they will be listening to a read aloud called "Salt in His Shoes - Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream" by Deloris Jordan, with Rosalyn M. Jordan, and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 

    As they are listening to the read aloud, they will be asked to write down three sentences, phrases, or words on a sticky note that come to mind when thinking of the story. These sentences, phrases, or words will later help them develop the theme of this text. 



    Task 3 (Identifying the Theme):


    When the read aloud is finished, the teacher will lead the students in a discussion on some of the sentences, phrases, or words they wrote down on their sticky note to describe Michael Jordan in the story. The students will share what they wrote down with the class. The teacher will write the students' ideas on the board. 

    After sharing, the teacher will explain to them that they have just identified the theme of this text or story. The teacher will remind the students that the theme of a text is the main idea, lesson, or moral of the story. 

    The students will then be handed the 'Identify the Theme' worksheet to complete independently. The students will be encouraged to use some of the sentences, phrases, and words from their sticky note to fill in their worksheet. 

    Note: The worksheet is attached to the section resources below. Students may need to view the read aloud video again using their own technical device to use textual evidence to support their answer. A rubric is attached to the section resources as well for scoring purposes. 

    Literary Text Title: ____________________________________

    Directions: While you are reading your text, think of what the author wants you to take away from reading his/her story and what might be the moral or lesson of the text. Feel free to use the sticky note provided by me to take notes. Ask yourself questions such as, “What are the main ideas of the story?” “What does the author want me to learn from this story?”

    When finished reading and thinking about your text, fill in this worksheet by writing two sentences or phrases that best describes the theme of this text. Remember, the theme of the story is the main idea, message, or lesson of the story.

    Sentence or phrase that best describes the theme: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Sentence or phrase that best describes the theme:


    Explain your reasoning for the theme you chose. Use textual evidence to support your answer.