Motifs Teacher Resources

Find Motifs educational ideas and activities

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“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.
For 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.
In this types of folklife worksheet, students define the varying types of folklife, their motifs, and any variants. Students are challenged by the cultural processes they must categorize.
As your class reads Act III of Macbeth, give them this two-page activity. Focusing on themes and motifs, they record quotes from the act that represent each of the topics provided such as ambition or manhood. 
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.     
In this The Scarlet Letter motif worksheets, high schoolers read a 1 paragraph informative selection regarding motif before they complete a graphic organizer regarding motifs and their use in the Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
How do themes and motifs build and develop through Act Five of Macbeth? With this two-page worksheet, readers record quotations that represent themes like ambition, conscience, and manhood. In addition, they speak to symbols like blood, clothing, and darkness. 
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.
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.
Cross-comparison, the technique of focusing on two different texts with the same themes, motifs, events, etc., is employed in an exercise that asks groups to examine two different translations of “The Ruin,” a poem, written in Old English, included in the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The idea here is to observe the choices translators make and to consider how reading multiple interpretations can lead to a better understanding of a text.
Review the values of traditional literature. Each slide traces the history of oral storytelling, prominent literary figures, and explores the values of teaching through traditional literature. The presentation could be used as a teacher resource, or as a unit introduction.
First graders study the artistic customs of the Cuna people of the Caribbean. In this ancient peoples lesson, 1st graders create an animal motif mola like the ones they have been studying of the Cuna people. Some excellent photos of molas are embedded in the plan.
Challenge your music learners 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, learners choose three of six given terms, explain them, and identify them in a piece of their choice.
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!
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.
In this online interactive literature worksheet, learners respond to 7 short answer and essay questions about Anton Chekhov's Uncle VanyaStudents may check some of their answers online.
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.
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.
Students 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 worksheet, 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 worksheet contains eight multi-step problems.

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