Spark Student Motivation - Theme Days

Linking up with the lovely Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Saturday linky.

One of my favorite ways to motivate students is theme days. My students have always gotten so excited for theme days - they love all the work that leads up to the theme day (highly motivated to complete the work - don't even realize they are learning) and on the actual day - oh my word!

Holidays of course become great theme days/weeks. I love doing a Polar Express theme in December.

But my absolute favorite theme days are based on books. One of my teaching friends and I often plan our theme days around books - especially if they are about to become huge blockbuster movies. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Dr. Seuss. We do this theme day whenever another movie is coming out. We all dress up like a Dr. Seuss character (Thing 1 and Thing 2 of course!). There are so many amazing activities related to these books online it is hard to fit into one day.

2. Chocolate. We did a huge chocolate day when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was remade. My teaching friend read the book to her class grade 1/2) and my class read chocolate novels - Chocolate Touch, Chocolate Fever and Charlie and the Chocoalte Factory. On the day students were invited to dress up like a character from Charlie {the Oompa Loompa costumes were hilarious}. We had stations set up between 3 rooms. Each student made a chocolate factory  - like a gingerbread house only with all chocolate candy, they did chocolate pudding painting, design a chocolate bar wrapper and a variety of reading response activities!

But my all time favorite that I am hoping to bring back soon is.....

3. Harry Potter Day!!! Oh the joy of Harry Potter Day. I love the books, I love the movies, did I mention I love the books. Both of us read the books to our class - usually book 1 since they were young and hadn't read any on their own yet, no matter what movie was coming out. We typed up invitation letters for each student - identical to the ones in the book, printed out on beige bond paper and shut with a gold seal like sticker - then one of our co-workers would crouch down outside our windows and throw them in - like they were delivered by an owl!!! Students and teachers dressed up like wizards and witches. On the morning of the best day ever, we had the students run through the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4 - we made a brick wall on brown paper - cut it into interlocking pieces - attatched to metre sticks and as students ran towards the "wall" we would open the wall and let them through. Students were sorted by the sorting hat - a black hat with slips of paper with the house names on them. Students travelled with their housemates through the activities - wand making, potion making.......super awesome day!!!

I love theme days and my students love theme days and they may forget everything else we did throughout the year but they never forget our theme days - they don't even realize that they are learning on the way to the theme day and on the day too!!

I wish I had photos but last year in a fit of motivation I took all the photos in my desk and went around to the older grades handing them out! I said why am I keeping these, when will I ever use them or need them, oops, that was before I started my blog!


  1. How exciting! Theme days sounds like a great idea! This could be done with any book right? Are all your subject lessons (language arts, math, etc.) related to the theme too? This is a great idea to be thinking about this summer for the novels I read! Thanks for linking up BBB!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. Oh wow- theme days sound so fun and motivating- especially the Harry Potter day...I heart Harry Potter big time too! :) I love that you had them run through the platform at 9 3/4- ha!!
    Learning to the Core

  3. I love theme days and so wish I could join you in doing a Harry Potter day! I love HP, but teaching at a private school some of the parents do not. I'm always thankful when at least one of my kiddos reads them each year (I have to get a note to loan them my copies of the books) so that I can talk about it with them.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  4. How fun! I love your top 3 themes! I would enjoy Dr. Seuss, chocolate, and Harry Potter days too! Cute idea! And as your read on Friday, I love the Polar Express too. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  5. You're so right about theme days. I think kids are never too old for a good THEME motivation!
    I'm Lovin Lit

  6. Wow, this sounds really fun!! I can imagine the costumes!! What a great idea! We may have to try that!

    I've never read Harry Potter. I probably should...

    I hope you are having a great weekend!!
    Collaboration Cuties

  7. I LOVE your Harry Potter idea!! I'm just about to start reading book 1 to my class tomorrow! You're right... they were too young to get in on the craziness the first time around. Most of my kids haven't even seen the movie! I can't wait to share it with them - the Harry Potter series is one of my personal favourites!!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom


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