Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Workshop Model Lesson Plan

Name: Diana Pyatigorsky

Grade: Third Grade

Subject: English Language Arts

Lesson Title:  Identifying Themes


Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume

Pink Princess Rules the School by Alyssa Crowne

Theme worksheet



Students will be able to identify and explain the concept of a central theme and apply it to the non-fiction book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Pre-assessment of Students Knowledge and Skills:

Students have been immersed in a unit on fictional reading. They have strong knowledge of the making predictions and inferences but are lacking in knowledge of central themes. This knowledge was demonstrated by a KWL on the concept of a theme. The majority of students are writing and reading fluently.


English Language Arts

Standard 3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation
Students will listen, speak, read, and write for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, students will analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria.



“Today we are going to talk about a theme. What is a theme? What does that word mean? I want you to activate your prior knowledge.  Go into your mental file cabinet to see if you can remember theme? What is a theme? Is it the main idea, what the story is mostly about, the message? What are possible themes? As good readers, we should pay attention to the people we meet and the events that take place to find the theme. Every book has a theme, maybe even 2 or 3 themes.”

Teacher will model/Think Aloud of Little Red Riding Hood’s theme.



“Do you remember Pink Princess Rules the School? Let’s figure out what the theme is. How many of you remember Freckle Juice? Who can tell me what this book is about? What do you think the theme is?”

“Students, we have been reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We know a lot about the story so far. Mr. Popper is a painter. He loves Penguins. He has a wife, Mrs. Popper who is very tidy. They have two children. Captain Cook comes to live with the Popper family. He lives in the fridge and the Poppers take care of him. He became lonely so Greta joined the family. The penguins love to play in the living room on snow and ice.”

“Since we know so much about this book, we are now ready to come up with possible themes.”

Group work:

“So now we are going to work on this fun worksheet. I am going to pair you up with a partner to work on it. In your pair, I want you to think about the possible themes of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It will help you to think to about our past themes. Think very carefully about the main ideas of the book. There is a theme bank on the bottom with some possible themes.

Closure: “Students, today we have learned how to identify the themes of your books.” We learned that a theme is the main idea of the book and there can be many themes in a story.”

Students review their findings and compare their findings to their own lives. Review the topics and conclusions learned during the lesson

Assessment-Teacher will assess understanding during conference time and during the share. Ask follow up questions if students are not confident with their explanations. Students will be assessed for their activity participation, their participation as audience members and their working material. Student project work will be reviewed against the rubric above.

Diversity: This lesson continues the work of opening a window into fiction reading experiences through the use of the students’ favorite texts.  Allowing students to interpret their favorite stories brings to life the understanding of how to interact with the text and gain information while reading.


Using popular texts and creative learning activities, students that struggle with comprehension are able to use their imaginations to show that they understand the content. This lesson also supports concreteness of the topic with the use of discussions and compared past texts.


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