Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Monkey's Paw: Be Careful What You Wish For


Margaret Salesky, Margaret Salesky, Susan McHale | Published: May 6th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course British Literature, Composition, Creative Writing
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2- class period(s)
  • Duration More 120 minutes


This lesson is based on the text of W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw" and is designed to help students understand the literary device of foreshadowing. Students identify passages of the author's text that predict the end of the story. They compare their prediction with the author's ending. Students write alternative endings to the story.  This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 8th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 7 through 8, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

What is foreshadowing? How do authors use foreshadowing in their writing? 



Students watch an "Aladdin" clip and discuss the desire for wishes to come true. Then, students participate in a Commit and Toss activity to answer the question, "If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?"


After reading part of the story, "The Monkey's Paw," students make a prediction about how the story will end.


Students identify and highlight text that supports their prediction about how the story might end. They pair with a partner to draw conclusions from the highlighted text and come to a consensus about their predictions. Students finish reading the story and compare the ending with their own predictions.


Students choose from three writing prompts to re-write the story's ending.


Students are evaluated on their writing assignment and the completed Frayer Model handout.


  • Sticky notes or half-sheets of scrap paper

  • Pens/pencils

  • Internet access for YouTube videos ("Aladdin" video clip and "Monkey Paw's" audio clip)

  • Student copy of "The Monkey's Paw" (attached)

  • Frayer Model student handout (attached)

  • 6+1 Writing Trait Rubric handout (optional)

  • "Be Careful What You Wish For" teacher slides


Display the title slide for this lesson, "Be Careful What You Wish For," on slide two. Ask students what they think the title means.

Tell students that today we will learn more about wishes. We will also learn about how our author for today's reading, W. W. Jacobs, uses sentences and phrases to help us predict how the story might end. The use of language to predict what might come next in a story is called "foreshadowing." Show the lesson's guiding questions about foreshadowing on slide three, and tell students that by the end of the lesson they will know more about this.

Show students a video clip from the animated movie, "Aladdin," which is about the title character's desire for a wish to come true. The full URL for the video can be found in the resources at the end of this lesson and in the notes on slide four.

Display slide five, and lead students in a Commit and Toss activity. Students will each need a sticky note or small piece of paper. On the paper, they will answer the question, "What would you wish for if you could have just one wish?" Ask students to categorize their wish in one of three ways: "Is your wish for (1) yourself, (2) for someone else, or (3) for something for the world?" Have students write only their answers on the paper (not their names), then crumple it up, and throw it toward the front of the room. You can have students toss the papers into a large basket or box if you prefer. After all of the notes have been tossed, each student should choose one of the pieces of paper (but not their own) from the pile. Have students stand. Call on about one-third of the students randomly to read what is on their new paper. Have students crumple the paper again and toss it back into the basket or box. Students then choose another, different crumpled paper. Again, call on one-third of the students to share the answer they found on the paper. Depending on the variety of answers, you may want to complete one more round of Commit and Toss. This activity allows students to share their own ideas anonymously and hear the ideas of others.


Tell students that the story they are about to read is about wishes. Pass out pages one through six of "The Monkey’s Paw" story, found in the attachments. On page six should be the words, "STOP HERE." Read the first part of the story aloud, through page six, as students read along. When you reach the stopping point on page six, ask students to participate in a vote. Ask for a show of hands for each of these questions: "How many think the story will end happily?" and "How many think the story will end badly for the family?"

Pass out the Frayer Model student handout to all students. Tell students that as they listened, they probably have gotten some ideas from the story of what might happen next in the story. This is called foreshadowing. Show slide seven, which explains foreshadowing. Read this slide aloud, then display slide eight. On the Frayer Model handout, ask students to write their own prediction about what will happen next in the story. Make sure they understand this is just their "best guess." If students have trouble getting started, use a sentence stem to help, such as, "I think the story will end badly (or happily) because..."


Pair students together in the class. Consider pairing students who are stronger readers with more struggling readers. Display slide nine and pass out highlighters. Student partners are to look for phrases or sentences in the part of the story they just read that foreshadow (give hints or clues) about what will happen as the story unfolds. On the Frayer Model handout, have them write down these phrases or sentences that they think foreshadow what might happen next. Encourage pairs to write four or five sentences or passages that demonstrate foreshadowing.

Then, ask student pairs to work together and write their own ending of the story, using the foreshadowing they have identified as a guide. Allow time in class for student partners to share their ending with the class.

Pass out the second part of "The Monkey's Paw" and read aloud the rest of the story, pages seven through eleven (or continue the audiobook found on slide six). Ask students to read along silently as you read aloud. At the end of the story, ask students to think about the questions on slide 10. Conduct a whole-class discussion asking the following questions as prompts: "Who was knocking on the door? What was the mother's reaction? What was the father's reaction? Was the ending what you expected? Why or why not?"

Ask student partners to return to their Frayer Model handout to complete it. Together, they are to write a summary of the author's ending in their own words.


You Be the Author: Display slide 11. Ask students to choose one of the following writing prompts:

  1. Write an ending where the White family’s life ends happily in spite of the wishes.

  2. There is one more wish left on the monkey’s paw. The paw has now been given to you. Do you still want a wish? Why or why not?

  3. Write an ending where Mrs. White manages to open the door. What happens next?


The evaluation of student knowledge will be based on their written response to the You Be the Author activity and completion of Frayer Model handout.