Activity Overview

Novels often have a variety of themes, symbols, and motifs throughout that students can identify and analyze. All of these literary elements can be conveyed through characters, setting, dialogue, plot, or a combination. In this activity, students will identify themes, symbols, and motifs in Echo and illustrate examples from the text. Students can explore by identifying these elements themselves or in an “envelope activity”, where they are given one or more to track throughout their reading. Then, they'll create a spider map illustrating what they found! Teachers may ask students to illustrate multiple examples of a single theme, symbol, or motif, or illustrate one example for each.

Examples of Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Echo

  • The power of music
  • The Harmonica
  • “Braham's Lullaby"
  • "America the Beautiful"
  • "Auld Lang Syne"
  • Music
  • Names - 1, 2, and 3/ Eins, Zwei, and Drei
  • Journeys
  • Freedom
  • Family
  • Carnegie Hall
  • "The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger"
  • New Beginnings
  • Bigotry
  • Perseverance

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, or motifs found in the story. Illustrate each and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the themes, symbols, or motifs from the story that you wish to include and type them in the title box at the top.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent each symbol using appropriate scenes, characters and items.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples in the black text box.

Lesson Plan Reference

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/8/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/5/1] Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Create a storyboard that identifies symbolism in the story. Illustrate instances of each and write a short description that explains the example's significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identify Symbol(s)
All symbols are correctly identified as objects that represent something else at a higher level in the story.
Most symbols are correctly identified, but some objects are missing or are incorrectly identified as significant symbols.
No symbols are correctly identified.
All examples support the identified symbols. Descriptions clearly say why examples are significant.
Most examples fit the identified symbols. Descriptions say why examples are significant.
Most examples do not fit the identified symbols. Descriptions are unclear.
Storyboard cells clearly show connection with the symbols and help with understanding.
Most storyboard cells help to show the symbols but some storyboard cells are difficult to understand.
Storyboard cells do not help in understanding the symbols.

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