Motifs Teacher Resources
Find Motifs educational ideas and activities
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ELA11-12: Reading Literature - Romeo and Juliet
“What is the theme of this story?” Now there’s a question all pupils dread. Rather than encountering a sea of faces that look like they were painted by Edward Munch, face a classroom filled with smiles and confidence. Show your readers how to determine the theme of a work. After modeling and discussing the differences between motifs and themes, groups engage in a series of activities that ask them to identify the motifs and the authors’ messages about these motifs in works they have read. Rich in detail, the packet deserves a place in your curriculum library.
There is nothing more frustrating than discussing theme in literature, and now the Common Core requires that your learners determine two or more, and discuss the development of it throughout the text. This is crazy, but manageable with the information and structure in this resource that will transform your students' definition of theme from a moral of a story into an exploration of universal experiences in literature. Included are ideas on how to scaffold your approach, a template for a motif tracker, and an assessment that can be modified for your class texts.
"Your Son, Your Only One" - The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Motif in Holocaust Poetry
Class groups examine a series of poems that use Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac as a motif in Holocaust poetry. Included are questions, notes to the teacher, and bibliographical information on each poem. The activities could be used as part of a study of the Holocaust or as part of a discussion of universal values.
Motifs and Variations Worksheet
In this reading artifacts worksheet, students find images of baskets by three different basket makers and examine them carefully in order to identify crafting motifs.
Close Reading in the Classroom
Close reading is key to the analysis and interpretation of literature. A close reading of the title and the epigraph of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” offers readers an opportunity to examine how even single words or names can contribute to the development of a motif or theme. To begin the examination, individuals respond to several questions that ask them to consider Prufrock’s name. After sharing their responses, groups use the provided questions and focus on the poem’s epigraph. The resource contains everything you need to promote close reading and deserves a place in your curriculum library.
Holocaust Studies: Five Poems by Dan Pagis
Teaching a unit on the Holocaust? Consider using the personal statements of Dan Pagis’s poetry to contrast with the more “distanced” historical accounts found in textbooks. Five poems, discussion questions, and background notes are included in the richly detailed plan.
Motifs and Variations Worksheet
In this oral tradition motif and variations worksheet, students answer several questions based on famous stories that cross cultural lines. Students examine similar story elements and motifs.
The Crucible Jeopardy
Review the characters, motifs, motives, vocabulary and events in Arthur Miller's The Crucible with a student-produced Jeopardy game. Consider using the presentation as a model for class members to critique before asking them to produce their own versions of this classic TV game show. The approach could be used with any text.
The Women Warrior
An appealing and informative PowerPoint that informs readers of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts of the available themes, motifs, and symbols present in the novel. Included is an adaptable essay assignment where the readers are assigned one theme, motif, and symbol to track throughout the novel. There is one fixable formatting issue on slide three.
Significant Moments:Themes in Night
Readers of Night record significant passages that illustrate themes and motif in Elie Wiesel’s tale. In addition, they explain why they feel the passage is significant and indicate the theme or motif being developed. A great way to encourage close reading and foster discussion.
Themes and Motifs in Macbeth Act Three
As your class reads Act III of Macbeth, give them this two-page worksheet. Focusing on themes and motifs, they record quotes from the act that represent each of the topics provided such as ambition or manhood.
J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Sarabande and Gigue form Partita no.4 in D major, BWV 828
Challenge your music students with this worksheet, which includes twenty-one questions about J.S. Bach's Sarabande and Gigue form Partita no.4 in D major, BWV 828. Students compare the two sections (bars 1-12, bars 13-38) by answering questions about the introduction, motifs, and rhythmic repetition. Finally, students choose three of six given terms, explain them, and identify them in a piece of their choice.
Literary Terms Quiz
Use this literary terms quiz as either a pre-test or summative assessment! Twenty-six questions test your middle and high schooler's knowledge of different literary terms like protagonist, allusion, irony, metaphor, and motif. It's a great quick assessment!
Uncle Vanya Study Questions and Essay Topics
In this online interactive literature instructional activity, students respond to 7 short answer and essay questions about Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Students may check some of their answers online.
Themes and Motifs in Macbeth Act Five
How do themes and motifs build and develop through Act Five of Macbeth? With this two-page learning exercise, readers record quotations that represent themes like ambition, conscience, and manhood. In addition, they speak to symbols like blood, clothing, and darkness.
Shakespeare Film Clip Assignment Worksheet
In this Shakespeare Film Clip worksheet, students list main ideas in the play, important images and motifs, and chose at least six main scenes or quotes that relate to the theme. Students then discuss what is complex or contradictory or nuanced about the ideas represented in their filmclip.
Interpreting Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Young scholars read and analyze Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In small groups they conduct research, and create a slideshow presentation that presents their analyses of plot, character, theme, symbol, and motif to the class.
In this frieze pattern instructional activity, students draw frieze patterns that can be constructed from a given motif. They perform translations, glide reflections, horizontal and vertical reflections and 180 degree rotations. This one-page instructional activity contains eight multi-step problems.
The Bean Trees: Study Guide
In this study guide worksheet for The Bean Trees, students answer comprehension questions based on the reading. Students are given vocabulary words to know, asked about motifs, themes and symbols.
The Idiot: Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
In this The Idiot activity, students discuss setting, plot, and the motif of alienation, then analyze characterization and theme.