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 From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Teachers may want the students to identify and illustrate 3 themes, or identify one theme and show three examples of it.

Examples of Themes in From the Desk of Zoe Washington


Zoe has never met her father and he is in prison, yet she gives him the benefit of the doubt and chooses to love and support him.


Zoe’s friendship with Trevor is tested, but they are open with and forgiving of one another.


Zoe knew that lying to her parents and writing letters to Marcus could get her in trouble, but she had the courage to do what she thought was right.

Systemic Racism

Marcus was put in jail for a crime he didn’t commit; his lawyer didn’t even bother trying to find his alibi and assumed he was guilty because he was a young, African American man.

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 From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the themes from From the Desk of Zoe Washington 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 submit storyboard.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 4-6

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/4/2] Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/5/2] Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

More Storyboard That Activities

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

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