Activity Overview

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify one theme from the text and trace the way it is developed through plot events, characters, symbols, or allusions. This can be good preparation for an essay on themes within the novel. The example below shows a sample storyboard for an exploration of the theme of fate.

Other themes to consider for this activity:

  • Love
  • Death
  • Suffering
  • The Afterlife
  • Man’s Search for Meaning
  • The Value of Life

Theme Exploration for The Fault in Our Stars

Cancer Neither Hazel nor Augustus has control over their cancer. Despite all the research and treatments, there is no guaranteed way to prevent and eradicate cancer. Fate seems to control whether a person is healthy or sick.
The Book
An Imperial Affliction
The phrase "an imperial affliction" means "suffering sent by a higher power." The title of Peter Van Houten's book (which plays an important role in Hazel and Gus's lives) emphasizes the inability of humans to escape suffering.
The Stars The characters seem to agree with the Greek idea that one's destiny is shaped by the stars. Hazel says she and Augustus are "star-crossed lovers" and Van Houten writes that the "fault [is] in our stars".
Gus’s cigarettes Gus's cigarettes are a way for him to metaphorically control his own fate. The unlit cigarettes allow him to play with death without dying as a result. They give him confidence, but don't change the reality that he has no control over his death.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard depicting important themes from The Fault in Our Stars.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Identify important themes in the story.
  3. Describe how the theme is important to the story.
  4. Illustrate each example with appropriate images, scenes, characters, and items.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text


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

Create a storyboard that identifies themes in the story. Illustrate examples of each theme and write a short description below each cell.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identify Theme(s)
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).
Illustrate Theme
Images clearly show connection with the theme(s).
Some images help to show the theme.
Images do not help in understanding the theme.

More Storyboard That Activities

The Fault in Our Stars

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