Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.
In the classroom, students can track the rich themes, symbols, and motifs in Holes and analyze the roles they play in the story.
Ask students to depict each time a friendship benefits someone in the novel. Afterwards, have a discussion about how each friendship was good and mutually helped both parties.
Each time students see someone being mean or cruel they should make a note of this and depict it. After, have them look at what each of these events has in common. See if your students can articulate the theme on their own. Hopefully, they will conclude that mean or destructive people are not rewarded in the novel.
Ask students to track how Stanley’s history continues to come up in his daily life. Episodes like Stanley I surviving the desert after being robbed by Kate, or the discovery of the treasure chest. Tracking these events will show students the importance of personal histories. This will also aid in uncovering some mysteries when reading, and add to excitement as students start making predictions.
Fate often determines the course of events in Stanley’s life. Although Stanley believes he is cursed, it is fate that seems to bring the Zeroni and Yelnats families together. Have students track all the different ways they see fate in Stanley’s life.
|The Warden||The Warden is cruel and mean. She demonstrates her cruel authority with rattlesnake venom nail polish. In the end, her cruelty is rewarded with her arrest.|
|Kissing Kate||Kate starts as a nice school teacher, but when her love, Sam, is killed, she turns to revenge. She robs and steals, ultimately dying from the bite of a yellow spotted lizard.|
|Yellow Spotted Lizards||Yellow Spotted Lizards are deadly. They are a sign of nature’s cruelty, brought on by the drought. However, their weakness is onions.|
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that identifies themes in Holes. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.
Grade Level 4-5
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group
Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & MotifsCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
All themes are correctly identified and described.
Some themes are correctly identified.
No themes are correctly identified.
Examples of Theme(s)
All examples support the identified theme(s).
Most examples fit the identified theme(s).
Most examples do not fit the theme(s).
Images clearly show connection with the theme(s).
Some images help to show the theme.
Images do not help in understanding the theme.