What’s the Big Idea?
Talking about themes and learning to justify ideas.
Lesson from Grandma Bird series
Required reading: Whole book
- Theme: Adventure
- Theme: Friendship
- Discussion and Dialogue
- Talking Points
Being able to find themes and messages shows a deeper level of understanding than simply retelling a story. Scaffolding the learning by providing a range of big ideas from which the children can select makes the process easier, and also equips the children with language that they can use in future discussions.
- Download and print copies of statement cards.
If the children are unfamiliar with the concept of ‘big ideas’ or themes that underpin the story. Explain how big ideas are different to the plot. It will help to give an example using a story that the children know well. For example, one of the themes of the Grimms version of Little Red Riding Hood is ‘always obey your parents’ another could be ‘don’t talk to strangers.’
Share the following statements asking children to talk to a partner and decide if they agree or disagree with them. You may need to model this and refer to the events of the story when doing so. Work together to rank the statements and decide which is the most relevant big idea in the story, stressing that this doesn’t mean other ideas are not relevant. Encourage children to justify responses by referring to the story, modelling as appropriate.
- You can only be friends with people your own age.
- Family members can’t be friends.
- You can only be friends with people who like the same things as you.
- If you have lots of friends, you are never lonely.
- Being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely.
- Are there any big ideas that you would like to add to this list?
lonely, loneliness, alone, friendship
Big Ideas Statements
Print and cut out these statement cards to support discussion. You can use them for class discussion or make sets for small group discussion. Use supplementary prompts to deepend the children’s understanding, rather than accepting first responses.