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The Third Wish by Joan Aiken

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Third Wish Include:

The Third Wish by Joan Aiken is a play based on the fairy tale structure where a character is granted three wishes, and things wind up going very wrong. In this delightful twist of a three-wish tale, Mr. Peters saves the Forest King, who happens to be in the form of a swan, and is granted wishes as a reward.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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The Third Wish Summary (Contains Plot Spoilers)

Mr. Peters is out driving along a pond when he hears a horrible splashing and crying sound. He decides he must help whatever or whoever is making the racket. It turns out to be a large swan caught up in some thorny bushes. Mr. Peters frees the majestic bird and is surprised when it magically transforms into a mean-looking little king. Mr. Peters feels that since this is a magical being which he has freed, he deserves to be rewarded with three wishes, no more and no less.

The Forest King grants him his request and hands him three leaves. He says that all he needs to do is to release the leaf and make a wish. He also warns him that men often don’t have very good luck with wishes. Mr. Peters contemplates his wishes very carefully, remembering stories of wishes granted gone horribly wrong. He sets aside two of the leaves in his briefcase. He make his first wish for a beautiful wife, and then he goes to sleep in the woods. When he awakes, he finds a gorgeous woman who says she is to be his bride. They marry.

Time passes, and Mr. Peters and Leita are happy. They live by a river, and Leita spends more and more time by its bank. Leita loves Mr. Peters very, very much, but she is desperately sad. She eventually tells Mr. Peters that she was once a swan and that she misses the water, but even more, she misses her sister, another swan. More time passes, and Leita spends more time crying by the riverbank. One night, Mr. Peters sees Leita at the water, hugging a large swan and crying. He decides then and there, despite how much he loves having her as his wife, he is going to use his second wish to undo his first. When Leita goes to bed that night, he takes a leaf from his briefcase and lets it free out the window. He wishes for Leita to be a swan again.

Lieta, lying in their bed, takes the form of a swan. Mr. Peters gently carries her, sleeping, to the river and places her in the water. He wakes her and she lovingly lays her head on his shoulder, then flies off into the woods. The mean Forest King appears behind Mr. Peters to heckle him and his wasted wishes. Mr. Peters says that he will not use his third wish because he wants to remain faithful to his wife, but swans should be swans and humans, human.

Mr. Peters lives out the rest of his life quietly. He is always visited by two lovely swans. On the night that he dies, the whole town can hear the sad song of two mournful swans.


Essential Questions for The Third Wish

  1. Which is more important to you: being happy or having your loved ones happy?
  2. If you were granted three wishes, what would you wish for? Why?

The Third Wish Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | The Third Wish Summary


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The Third Wish Plot Diagram

Exposition

Mr. Peters saves a swan who turns out to be the Forest King. Mr. Peters is rewarded with three wishes.


Conflict

Mr. Peters must decide what to wish for using his three wishes. He does not know whether to use the wishes on himself or for his loved ones.


Rising Action

Mr. Peters wishes for a beautiful wife, and one magically appears. They are wed, and seem to be live very happily.


Climax

Mr. Peters realizes that his wife used to be a swan, and that though she loves him very much, she’ll never be truly happy as a human because she was born to be a swan.


Falling Action

Mr. Peters uses his second wish to return his wife to swan form.


Resolution

Mr. Peters decides to live out his life in the company of his two favorite swans (his wife and her sister), and not use the third wish because he believes that he should be happy as he is.


The Third Wish Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION Mr. Peters is driving along when he hears a ruckus. He stops and sees an entangled swan and frees it. The swan is actually the Forest King. Mr. Peters demands three wishes as a reward for saving the King. Mr. Peters must decide what to wish for when he uses his three wishes. He does not know whether to use the wishes on himself, or for his loved ones. Mr. Peters takes one of his leaf wishes, carefully wishes for a beautiful wife, and then goes to sleep in the woods. When he awakes, his bride-to-be is waiting there for him. Mr. Peters and Leita live happily for years, but Leita grows more and more sad. She tells Mr. Peters that she used to be a swan, and she is so sad because she misses her sister desperately. Mr. Peters knows what he must do: he decides on a second wish. Mr. Peters blows the second leaf into the air, sadly. Instantly, Leita is a swan again. Mr. Peters, Leita, and her swan sister visit together often. They are known by all in town to be able to communicate with one another. Mr. Peters grows old, never using his last wish, and always being faithful to Leita. On the night he dies, the sad, forlorn song of two swans can be heard, mournfully singing all through the night. I expect three wishes, no more and no less. Three wishes, he wants, the clever man. Well, I have yet to hear of the human being who made any good use of his three wishes, they mostly end up worse off than when they started. Don't blame me if you spend the last wish in undoing the work of the other two. Yes I am. My name is Leita. Are you the wife that I wished for? I wish I had a wife as beautiful as the forest! It's clear, I know what I need to do... Rhea! Rhea! I can't understand you! Oh, wait for me, take me with you! He stooped down and kissed her goodbye, then took another leaf from his notecase, blew it out the window, and used up his second wish. Next moment, instead of Leita, there was a sleeping swan lying across the bed.

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Third Wish.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Story Outline Storyboard Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

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The Third Wish Character Map Graphic Organizer

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This character map allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a story, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets for your students to use while reading, is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom. Or, if you prefer, create a blank template for your students to complete!

The Third Wish - Character Map
Create your own at Storyboard That Mr. Peters Leita Forest King Physical/Character Traits: How does this character change over time? What challenges does this character face? Physical/Character Traits: How does this character affect the plot? Describe this character's feelings about the main character: Physical/Character Traits: How does this character interact with the main character? What challenges does this characters face?

Example

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Main Ideas in The Third Wish Graphic Organizer

Learning how to identify the main idea in a selection of text is an important skill for students to master. If readers are not careful, they can miss important information, plot advancements, or more. In this activity, students will identify main ideas and symbols from the story, and support their choices with details from the text.

Give your students selections from the text to illustrate. Using the grid layout or the traditional storyboard, students will recreate the text with a picture and one or two sentences that capture the main idea of the selection.

Three main ideas from The Third Wish are:

  1. Mr. Peters frees the swan from the thorny tangle. This is the task he completes to “earn” his three wishes.
  2. Mr. Peters realizes that it is hopeless to expect that Leita will ever become truly happy as a human. He decides to wish her back to being a swan.
  3. The mournful sound of two swans is Leita and her sister. They are singing because Mr. Peters has died.
The Third Wish Main Idea
Create your own at Storyboard That "The bird strruggled all the more frantically... and when he took hold of it to free it, it hissed at him, pecked him, and thrashed dangerously with its wings which were powerful enough to break his arm. Nevertheless, he managed to release it from the thorns..." "Then he knew that it was hopeless and she would never be happy as a human. He stooped down and kissed her goodbye, then took another leaf from his notecase, blew it out of the window, and used up his second wish." "One autumn night, passers-by along the road heard the mournful sound of two swans singing. All night the song went on, sweet and harsh, sharp and clear. In the morning Mr. Peters was found peacefully dead in his bed with a smile of great happiness on his face." FREEING THE SWAN MR. PETERS RETURNS LEITA TO SWAN FORM MR. PETERS DIES MAIN IDEA