Teaching about Themes... using the cupcake analogy! | Crafting Connections
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Teaching about Themes... using the cupcake analogy!

Monday, July 28, 2014
This blog post uses the cupcake analogy to define and explain story themes. Just as creme can be hidden inside the cupcake, the theme is hidden inside a story. This blog post includes free posters, too!

This anchor chart explains the cupcake analogy that I share with my students when I am teaching them about themes in literature.
Theme anchor chart- Use this to remind students how book themes are like filled cupcakes. (Includes TWO FREEBIES!)

This all started a few years ago, when my upper elementary students were struggling with the concept of "theme". Many of them were confusing "theme" with "main idea", even after all of our practice activities. I needed to try something different... something that would be catchy enough to stick with my fourth and fifth graders. I'm not sure how I came up with theme-filled cupcakes. I suppose I was rhyming words in my head, and realized "cream" rhymes with "theme". Anyway, when "theme-filled cupcakes" crossed my mind, I knew I was on to something.  After all, the theme of a book is usually hidden, just like the creme inside a cupcake. Theme is the central message of a book, just as creme is central to the cupcake.

If you have followed me for awhile, you already know that I have a sweet tooth and that I love food analogies. Also, I often design my anchor charts to match other activities I do with my students.  (I believe this helps students build connections and retain the huge amount of new learning they encounter each day!)

Click on any of the images below to download my freebies related to teaching about themes in literature!
FREE Themes in Reading Posters!   FREE Themes in Reading Posters!       

Notice that the word "selfishness" is underlined on the first poster. I point out to my students that any number of negative traits can be written in place of "selfishness". Therefore, these are a few more theme possibilities:
  • Dishonesty can lead to negative consequences.
  • Laziness can lead to negative consequences.
  • Rude behavior can lead to negative consequences.
FREEBIE for teaching about themes in literature! Students can glue this foldable into interactive notebooks and refer to it as needed!

If you would like to take a look at the theme resources available in my store, click HERE. My theme filled cupcake craftivity is one of my favorite activities of the year!

This theme activity was created to help students truly understand the meaning of themes in literature. (A theme is hidden in a book just like creme can be hidden inside a cupcake!) Four passages are included. Students lift the flap to reveal the theme of each passage!

Thank you for stopping by!



  1. The anchor chart looks great! I love the cupcake comparison and the examples you included.

    Fit to be Fourth

  2. Great connection from cupcake to theme, Deb! I think this will at least entice them enough to listen and think while they imagine eating a cupcake. ;)
    Tales of a Teacher

  3. I love the cupcake connection - plus I love cupcakes with cream in the middle!! Thanks for sharing this idea : )

  4. I have the cupcake craftivity, so I'm excited to make this anchor chart to go with it. I totally use your craftivities as end of the week rewards. My kiddos work diligently all week so they can earn snack/craft on Friday {they don't even realize they're working!} And who doesn't love a cream filled cupcake? Yummy!

    A Teaspoon of Teaching


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