Activity Overview

A theme is a central idea, subject, or message in a story. Many stories have more than one important theme, and this is the case in Once. For this activity, students will identify one theme in the story and illustrate examples from the text. Teachers may choose to assign themes for students to look out for as they read, or have students choose their own after completing the story.

Examples of Themes in Once


Felix and Zelda form an unlikely bond. Felix saves her life and they become inseparable. Felix will do anything for Zelda. One example is when he goes out to find medicine for her when she is sick.


Perhaps at the beginning, Felix is resilient because he truly doesn’t understand what’s going on. However, as the story unfolds, Felix remains positive and calm. He will do whatever it takes to escape, including jumping off of a train car.


Felix’s imagination and stories keep him positive during the very difficult time.


Even when it becomes clear that his parents have probably been killed, Felix continues to hold out hope that he will find them.

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 a recurring theme in Once. Illustrate 3 examples of the theme and write a short description below each cell.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify one theme from Once you wish to include and write it in the title box.
  3. Create images for 3 examples that represent 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 6-8

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/7/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [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

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