Sunday, September 15, 2013

Theme-Filled Cupcake, Anyone? {GIVEAWAY!}

Hi there!

Deb here... I am so excited to be guest blogging for Nicole today!  Nicole and I first connected several months ago for the first time, when she was kind enough to notify me of a small problem with a resource I had posted at my TpT store.  From there, we have traded emails back and forth occasionally… and I am always SUPER excited when I see her name appear when I am updated that someone has purchased one of my resources.  Nicole Shelby has purchased something from me?!   I’m sure you can all relate to the “star-struck” nature of my statement!  However, I can just see Nicole herself wincing as she reads this.  I am fairly certain that she would say that she is no different than you and I – simply a teacher doing her best to do whatever she can to influence the lives and futures of the students placed in her classroom year after year.  :)

Okay, I digressed a bit there; back to the task at hand!  I asked Nicole if she would allow me to guest blog today about the ELA concept of theme.  Actually, if you would have talked to me a year ago, you never would have heard me say I wanted to write about this particular educational concept.  I’ve always considered theme to be a challenge to teach, simply because of the “abstract” nature of it.   Whereas plot, main idea, and context clues are pretty “concrete”, theme definitely requires a mental jump to some higher-level thinking, which frankly can be a challenge for some students.

That all changed, though, when I (with the help of my twin sister who is not a teacher, believe it or not) came up with the idea to use a crème-filled cupcake to help teach theme!  Theme-filled cupcakes!  WooHoo!  I thought, I think I’m on to something here!   Not only do we have the rhyming thing going on, but the analogy is perfect!   Like the crème filling of a cupcake, the theme of a story is not explicitly stated in most cases.  Rather, the theme is the hidden message (or deeper meaning) that the author is intending to convey.

Once I came up with this analogy, I was on a mission!  Out came the craftivity…. Out came the PowerPoint… Out came the task cards… Out came the worksheets… all with the same theme-filled cupcake analogy, making a nifty little memorable visualization that students can use to associate with the definition of theme.
Theme-Filled Cupcake Craftivity finished product
Craftivity, you may ask? I love craftivities!   (Hence the name of my blog - Crafting Connections.) Check out my recent post at All Things Upper Elementary for more information about what they are and why I love them for upper elementary learners.   (While you’re there, pick up my Idioms & Hyperbole craftivity for FREE!  I’m extending the free download (available exclusively there) for another week - so you can get it through next Sunday, September 22.)

My Theme-Filled Cupcakes Craftivity resource includes four short stores.   Students read each short story and then determine its theme.  From there, they assemble their cupcakes, complete with the “hidden” theme filling!   Suffice it to say that for the first time in all my years of teaching, I am actually excited to teach Theme in my classroom this coming year!
The "theme" filling is hidden inside!
But wait… I am on Nicole Shelby’s blog!   I simply cannot write on her blog without making some sort of reference to interactive notebooks… It just wouldn’t be right! :)   I am using Nicole’s Fourth Grade Interactive Reading Notebook resource this year, and these theme-filled cupcakes will make an appearance in my students’ notebooks.   I intend to make an extra set of photocopied cupcake elements for each student.   For the interactive notebook entry, I will instruct them to label the cupcake graphic as the overall story, and then write their own description for theme in a filling circle.  Then I will have them glue these elements in their notebook (just as they did for their craftivity, shown in the photo above).  Further, rather than gluing the entire set of four cupcakes from the craftivity onto the construction paper, I will instruct them to choose one to glue onto the next page in their interactive notebook.   This, of course, will give them a visual reminder of theme to refer back to throughout the year.

Let’s finish this with some fun! Let’s do a raffle giveaway! One winner will receive my Theme BUNDLE (which includes the craftivity, several worksheets, task cards, a PowerPoint, and a 7-day lesson plan)!  (Of course, if you choose to purchase this bundle right away, and then later win the giveaway, I will certainly give you $12 worth of products of your choice from my TpT store!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before I leave you to make the most of the rest of your day, I invite you to check out my blog – Crafting ConnectionsI’d be absolutely honored to have one of Nicole Shelby’s followers as my own as well! 

Thanks so much for spending some of your time with me today,


  1. I love the idea of crafting during learning. The students love the hands on approach. This would be a great addition to both of Nicole's interactive notebooks which I am using this year and absolutely love!!

  2. Love your reader's and language notebooks!! So helpful!!!

  3. I'm looking forward to using both of your interactive notebooks this year as well! Deb's craftivity will make a great addition to our notebooks. :)


  4. My students love to color (then again, most do), and they would love to do these! Thanks for sharing!

    - Sarah Beth
    Miss White's Classroom

  5. I was just stopping by to tell Nicole how much my students and I are enjoying the reading and language interactive notebooks...a lot!
    I certainly enjoyed this "themey" post!

  6. This is a great idea for teaching theme!

  7. I am such a HUGE fan of both of your products! Thank you :)

  8. Very well said. These tips are really amazing. I appreciate it for sharing them.

    filled cupcakes