CONTENT AREA: Language Arts
Grade Level: 7-9
Objective 1: Students will identify the themes of "The Monkey's Paw" using textual evidence as support.
Objective 2: Students will use newly acquired vocabulary to understand the author's word choice and gain deeper insight into the meaning of the text.
Objective 3: Students will make inferences and predictions based on information in the text.
Objective 4: Students will use knowledge of theme, foreshadowing, and irony to develop a short story related to "The Monkey's Paw."
Option A: "The Monkey's Paw" (edited version, grade 5-7 reading level)
Option B: "The Monkey's Paw" (original version, grade 8-12 reading level)
Full text with annotations from CommonLit. Unfamiliar words are clickable. (Common Lit link in Virtual Classroom)
Introduction | Background Activities | Vocabulary | ASL Storytelling: The Monkey Paw | Reading Activities | Writing Activities | Insert Learning Activity | Theme | Culminating Activity: Short Story | Extension Activities
Small-Group Activity: Activate Prior Knowledge
Discussion: If you had three wishes what would they be (wishing for more wishes doesn't count!)?
Alternative Digital Activity: Flipgrid Response
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If you have your own free Flipgrid account, click here to access the topic and copy it to your own grid. You can create your free account here.
Background Activity 1: Presentation
Display and discuss the presentation above to ensure students have the facts they need in order to fully understand some of the details in the story.
Background Activity 2: Historic Timeline
Display and discuss the timeline of historic inventions and discuss what life must have been like in the early 1900s when the story is thought to have taken place.
Background Activity 3: Individual or paired Activity
What is the difference between and pound and a dollar? How much was a pound worth in 1900? Assign students to complete the Conversion Riddle to find out how much 200 pounds would be worth today.
Create a copy of the activity for your own Google Drive in order to capture student answers.
Also available as PDF
Classroom Word Wall
Vocabulary words ready to print, cut out, and use for your classroom word wall.
Virtual Word Wall
Students drag and drop words to "Know," "Don't Know," and "Sort of Know." Students use the wall throughout the lesson to keep track of the new words they learn.
Words are situated at the bottom or sides of the slide.
Collection of flashcards, quizzes, and matching games for "The Monkey's Paw."
Crossword and Word Search
Option A (grade 5-7 reading level):
Option B (grade 8-12 reading level):
Pre-Reading Guide: Small Group Activity
Help students prepare to read "The Monkey's Paw" with this group activity.
Or to use this worksheet as a Google Form, click here to create a copy for your Google Drive. (Note: Once saved, it will appear as a Google Sheet. Click on the "Form" menu, and click “Edit Form.”)
Guided Reading: Whole Group Activity
Ensure student understanding with these discussion questions during the reading of "The Monkey's Paw."
Critical Thinking Questions: Individual Activity
Help students exercise their critical thinking skills with these questions about "The Monkey's Paw."
Is the Paw Cursed? Prove It!
In the short story "The Monkey's Paw," the author provides ample evidence that the paw may be cursed. You will write a paragraph using textual evidence to prove the paw is cursed. First, identify three pieces of evidence (direct quotes from the story). After identifying the evidence, explain how each piece of evidence proves that the monkey's paw is cursed. The paragraph must follow the guidelines below:
- Indent the paragraph.
- Include the story title and topic in the topic sentence.
- Include three "evidence" sentences.
- An explanation sentence must follow each of the evidence sentences.
- Concluding sentence must include the topic of the paragraph and story title.
- Eight sentence minimum.
The following guide will help students collect evidence to write their paragraphs.
Teachers might find it helpful to refer to this manuscript with highlighted passages showing foreshadowing and irony.
Foreshadowing: An Introduction
Foreshadowing in "The Monkey's Paw"
Use the worksheet to find examples of foreshadowing and to explain those selections.
Irony: Verbal, Situational and Dramatic Irony PowerPoint
Choose whether the example Is Verbal, Dramatic, or Situational irony.
Word Doc / PDF / Fillable PDF / Google Doc
Irony in The Monkey's Paw
Use the worksheet to find examples of irony and explain those examples.
Insert Learning Activity
Insert Learning is a Google extension that allows teachers to annotate web pages with notes, highlighting, and questions. The short video below shows how students can interact with a "The Monkey's Paw" web page on commonlit.org.
By signing up for a free account, teachers can "insert learning," assign it to their students and capture the learning on the back end. You can monitor student responses in real-time and respond to students who need help the most.
If you already have the Google extension, you and your students can see the annotations that have been added to the text of "The Monkey's Paw" by clicking here. The page includes explanations of the text, open-ended questions, multiple-choice questions, a Google map showing India and England, and even a Flipgrid response at the end.
Sign up for a free account and access the Google extension by clicking here.
How to Find the Theme of the Story
Teaching Theme with Stone Soup
The Theme of "The Monkey's Paw"
Use the same handouts above to determine the theme of "The Monkey's Paw."
Examples of themes:
- Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
- Be satisfied with what you have, because greed can lead to tragic consequences.
- Don't interfere with fate, or tragedy may occur.
- You also might be interested in this free resource from Dominic Carrozino: "The Monkey's Paw": Determining Theme
Culminating Activity: Creative Writing Project
Display and discuss the video above. Brainstorm with students together to generate different story ideas.
The Story Arc
Understanding the rise and fall of the story arc is important to all story-writing. Use the video below to explain and discuss.
The Story Arc Practice
Use the worksheet below to discuss (in groups or as a class) the story arc of "The Monkey's Paw."
How to Make Your Writing Suspenseful
Students love scary stories, so why not help them write their own? Use the video below to jump-start their suspenseful writing skills.
Key points for discussion:
- Tell the story from the characters’ point of view.
- Choose the right setting like castles and spooky forests.
- Use imagery to paint a picture of your story.
- Use style to create tension like short sentences when you want to show something is happening fast.
- Use dramatic irony by revealing key parts of the secret to the audience, but not to the characters.
- You might want to use a cliffhanger, but some think this is a quick and easy trick.
Click below to expand each section's instructions with corresponding links and material.
Character text messages: Have students create conversations between the characters at http://iphonefaketext.com/.
Fate or Coincidence Debate: Students debate whether things happen in life because of fate or coincidence and use examples from their own lives to support their beliefs. Here is a great lesson plan for this activity.
Have students find another of W.W. Jacobs' short stories, read it, and write a brief analysis comparing and contrasting it to The Monkey's Paw.
Watch "The Monkey’s Paw" Reenactment. Students will write a comparative analysis in which they discuss the similarities and differences that exist in how the film and text develop the tone, events in the plot, complex characters, and setting. Students should take a position in their responses about how the film causes them to interpret the actual events in the short story.
The Monkey's Paw Escape Room Use your knowledge of the story to escape the room before the 45 minutes have elapsed.
Watch an adaptation. This is not a full list, as there are several adaptions that appear even in sitcoms (like Gilligan's Island) that are not listed, but it's a good start.
More Activities and Ideas
For more ideas on The Monkey's Paw activities, including writing tie-ins, bulletin board ideas, art projects and more, visit our Monkey's Paw Pinterest board.