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Activity Overview

A theme is a central idea, subject, or message in a story. Many stories have more than one important theme. For this activity, students will identify and illustrate the themes in A Long Walk to Water.

Examples of Themes in A Long Walk to Water


All of the characters in this novel struggle to survive without the basic need of clean water. Other aspects that impact the characters’ survival are food, war, sickness, and heat.


It is clear that family and community are the most important things to Salva. He experiences an extreme feeling of loss when he cannot find his real family, and when his tribe abandons him. The thought of possibly reuniting with his family motivates Salva to never give up.


Salva makes a few friends along his journey, and his ties to them are as important to him as his family.

Perseverance and Courage

The obstacles that Salva faces are simply unimaginable: starvation, thirst, loneliness, endless walking, crocodiles, and so much more. It is unbelievable that he never gave up and never turned back, even when he truly wanted to at times.

War and Society

This novel shows us just how horribly war affects society. Because of war, Salva had to flee his country and live for years on the run. The war in Sudan was so terrible, that women and children were being killed for no reason, and no one was safe from danger.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in A Long Walk to Water. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the themes from A Long Walk to Water you wish to include and write them in the headings.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  4. Write a short description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 5-6

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/5/1] Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

More Storyboard That Activities

A Long Walk to Water

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