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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify a specific theme from the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and support their choices with details from the text. The novel deals with some of the more horrible aspects of war, and, in particular, The Holocaust. As a result, the novel is rich with important themes, from innocence and friendship, to boundaries and obedience.

As a classroom activity, students can track the rich thematic writing that Boyne uses throughout the book. In the example storyboard above, the creator has focused on Boyne's use of the following themes: innocence, boundaries, friendship, and conformity.


Examples of Themes in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


Innocence

Bruno often shows his innocence and naivete when it comes to the atrocities around him. He doesn't seem to understand what is going on. He certainly doesn't understand that his father is in charge of the horrible treatment of the prisoners.


Boundaries

In addition to the physical boundaries, which the prisoners experience with the fences, there are also boundaries such as not speaking to non-prisoners and not taking food from them. After Bruno gives Shmuel chicken slices, Shmuel is accused of stealing them.


Friendship

“He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel's tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly. "You're my best friend, Shmuel," he said. "My best friend for life.”


Conformity/Obedience

Despite the fact that Pavel (the once doctor, turned house servant) cleans Bruno's wounded knee, Mother says that she did it so that Pavel won't be punished by the soldier for touching a non-prisoner.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs



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 Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from the story.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.



Rubric

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



Themes, Symbols, and Motifs Rubric for Middle School
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.
Examples
All examples support the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Descriptions clearly explain how the examples connect to the broader themes, symbols, and motifs.
Most examples fit the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Most descriptions attempt to explain how the examples connect to the broader themes, symbols, and motifs.
Most examples do not fit the identified themes, symbols, and motifs. Descriptions are unclear.
Depiction
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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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas





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