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Activity Overview

In this activity, students will identify a theme and support the theme with evidence from the text. One theme in Matilda is good versus evil.

Good vs. Evil

Mrs. Phelps, Matilda, and Miss Honey are examples of kind, intelligent, and selfless characters who help others. Mrs. Phelps, the librarian, notices Matilda’s talents, but does not make a fuss about them; she simply hones in on the girl’s interests by providing her with classic books. Matilda shows her goodness when she helps Miss Honey get her house back by scaring Miss Trunchbull. Miss Honey shows her compassion and kindness when Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood run off to Spain, and she vows to take care of Matilda as the parents drive away.

Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood and Miss Trunchbull are characters who are ornery and cruel to others. Mr. Wormwood is abusive to Matilda – often calling her stupid and ripping up her books. Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood do not care that Matilda is especially gifted, and actually see it as a weakness. Miss Trunchbull is evil towards the children at school as well as Miss Honey, her niece. For example, Miss Trunchbull threw a little girl by the pigtails, picked up a boy by the ear, and forced a boy to eat an entire chocolate cake. Also, Miss Trunchbull made Miss Honey her slave as a child, and continues to control her money as an adult.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 4-5

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [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.

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.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Matilda. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Matilda you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


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

Themes, Symbols, and Motifs
Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, and/or motifs in the story. Illustrate instances of each and write a short description that explains the example's significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identify Theme(s)
All themes are correctly identified as important recurring topics or messages in the story.
Some themes are correctly identified, but others are missing or do not make sense with the story.
No themes are correctly identified.
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.
Identify Motif(s)
All motifs are correctly identified as important recurring features or ideas in the story.
Some motifs are correctly identified, but others are missing or incorrect.
No motifs are correctly identified.
All examples support the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Descriptions clearly say why examples are significant.
Most examples fit the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Descriptions say why examples are significant.
Most examples do not fit the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Descriptions are unclear.
Storyboard cells clearly show connection with the themes, symbols, and motifs and help with understanding.
Most storyboard cells help to show the themes, symbols, and motifs, but some storyboard cells are difficult to understand.
Storyboard cells do not help in understanding the themes, symbols, and motifs.

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