Here is a great activity for making connections in literature and determining the theme.
We watched the movie The Red Balloon (you can use anything). While the students are watching the movie, each child has a piece of paper in front of them. On the piece of paper they write down feelings, observations, ideas, or just words that they think are related to the story. For example, during The Red Balloon, we had words like, fun, peaceful, children, free, curious, amazing, etc.
Once the film is finished ask them (in pairs or individually), to draw a line between words that they think are connected. They can make it look pretty with colors if they wish! On the line, write why you think these two words are connected. Give a decent amount of time to work with this, and they will come up with some great ideas. Once finished, they can switch partners or get into different groups and do a sharing jigsaw, where they explain their thinking to someone else.
We took it a step further and I asked them to choose one word that they think represents the theme of the film, and write a journal entry explaining why.
Try it out. Or if not, watch the movie. It is fantastic!
The Red Balloon