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 My Side of the Mountain. Teachers may want the students to identify and illustrate 2 themes, one for each cell, or identify one theme, and show two examples of it, one example per cell.

Examples of Themes in My Side of the Mountain

Self Discovery and Growth

When Sam goes out into the wilderness, he discovers a lot about himself. For example, he discovers that he can survive on his own, and is able to be resourceful and self-sufficient. Sam realizes that he enjoys being independent and feeling grown up.


Sam is alone throughout most of the story, but he is not always lonely. In order to pass the time, Sam talks to the animals and doesn’t realize that he misses people until he encounters a person in his space.


Sam quickly realizes that it is not money that will help him survive, it’s his skills and resourcefulness. Sam relies on his knowledge of nature and what he has researched and learned from others in order to survive in the wilderness.


Sam’s family isn’t worried about him, for they knew approximately where he was headed and that this was something he needed to do. His father even visited him! At the end of the story, when Sam’s family joins him to live in the woods, the readers learn how truly important they are to one another.

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 2 recurring themes in My Side of the Mountain. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the themes from My Side of the Mountain 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.


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

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes 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.
All examples support the identified themes. Descriptions clearly say why examples are significant.
Most examples fit the identified themes. Descriptions say why examples are significant.
Most examples do not fit the identified themes. Descriptions are unclear.
Storyboard cells clearly show connection with the themes and help with understanding.
Most storyboard cells help to show the themes, but some storyboard cells are difficult to understand.
Storyboard cells do not help in understanding the themes.

More Storyboard That Activities

My Side of the Mountain

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