Kitchen Sink Soup

story by Jeanine DeHoney , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning intention:

I am learning to develop criteria for establishing personal preferences for literature so that I may become more familiar with the type of texts I enjoy.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify the theme in stories.
  • I can discuss which theme relates most to my personal experiences.
  • I can reflect on whether relating to themes in texts impacts on my enjoyment of the text.

Focus question:

How are textual themes related to experiences?


Essential knowledge:

View the video Theme from The School Magazine. Ensure students note that a theme provides a lesson about life to the audience.

More on Theme can be found on the English Textual Concepts page.


Read Kitchen Sink Soup. Discuss the theme using the following questions to scaffold students’ responses:

  • How does Kayla feel when her grandfather suggests he’ll make kitchen sink soup to help her get over the sniffles? (She assumes she won’t like the soup)
  • Why does she think this? (She thinks it sounds gross as the kitchen sink is where the dirty dishes go)
  • What does she think of the soup while her grandpa prepares it? (She is determined not to eat any)
  • What does Kayla do once her grandpa has prepared the soup? (She says she is not hungry)
  • What does Kayla think of the soup when she tries it? (She discovers the soup is delicious)
  • What lesson does Kayla learn through her experiences with the soup? (That even when things sound disgusting, they might turn out to be delicious)
  • What lesson can others learn through Kayla’s experience? (To try things before forming an opinion)

Summarise the theme with the students, for example:

  • don’t judge a book by its cover
  • don’t make assumptions about things before trying them
  • find out the facts before drawing conclusions.

Read the poem The Line from this issue of Countdown (page 15). Discuss the theme, using the following questions:

  • Why do the animals line up at the sign? (Because the sign tells them to)
  • What do the animals discover after they have waited in line? (The fox placed the sign there as a trap)
  • What lesson could people learn from this story? (Don’t do what a sign tells you to without finding out what it means)

Discuss the theme, encouraging students to sum up their ideas in one sentence, with a moral stance, for example:

  • don’t follow others without thinking for yourself
  • question everything
  • don’t be too trusting.

Inform students that they will be deciding which theme is most relevant to their lives.

Discuss the following:

  • Which theme do you think you have most to learn from?
  • Can you think of a time when you behaved in a similar way to either Kayla from Kitchen Sink Soup or the animals in The Line?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
  • Which text do you prefer?
  • Does relating to the theme of a text influence your opinion of the text?

Inform students that they should sum up their ideas in a brief paragraph. Provide the following template, such as:


I relate to the theme in _______ because___________. The experience I had resulted in_______. This taught me__________. I enjoyed _____ less as______. I prefer stories__________.


Compose an example such as:

I relate to the theme featured in The Line because I once also followed what others were doing without thinking about my actions. The experience resulted in me getting in trouble at school. This taught me to think for myself. I enjoyed Kitchen Sink Soup less as I did not relate to the theme. I prefer texts with themes that I can relate to.

Allow time for students to sum up their ideas. Share responses, emphasising similarities and differences between students.