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 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane using a three cell spider map. Teachers may want the students to identify and illustrate 3 themes, one for each cell, or identify one theme, and show three examples of it, one example per cell.

Examples of Themes in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane


The entire novel is about Edward learning to love. At the beginning, he only loves himself and is even annoyed by Abilene’s love for him. As he meets more people, he learns to love them as they love him.


Edward experiences a great deal of loss throughout his journey. Perhaps the most painful loss for him is Sarah Ruth, as he loved her so deeply.


Edward heals literally and figuratively many times throughout the novel. One example is when he first meets Lawrence after being in the ocean for so long. He is hurt that Abilene hasn’t found him, but feels safe and comfortable with Lawrence and Nellie.


The people who take care of Edward show him a great deal of kindness. For example, when Bryce sees Edward hanging on the scarecrow pole, he rescues him and takes him to Sarah Ruth.

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 recurring themes in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the themes from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane 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 4-5

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [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.

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

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