Teacher Guide to The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Written By Rod Sterling

By Rebecca Ray

I remember reading this story as a play in middle school. There was something that immediately captured me about the ending, and it has stayed with me ever since. Using the story in the classroom can prove to be a great tool for teaching theme, lesson and moral. Watch your students flourish with this lesson plan, which is designed to generate creativity and discussion about what happens when human nature is left to its own devices.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
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    A Quick Plot Spoiler of The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    Twilight Zone- "The Monsters Are Due on Maple" Street was originally an episode of the 1960’s television show “The Twilight Zone.” Later, the episode was made into a graphic novel. The synopsis of the story deals with insight into human nature and paranoia.

    The setting begins on Maple Street as a shadow passes over, accompanied by a flash of light, a whooshing sound, and followed by a power outage. Immediately, people are in the streets conversing over the matter, and a theory of extraterrestrial visitors is mentioned. Furthermore, the characters believe that the aliens could be living as a family in the neighborhood who appear human. Soon after, hysteria begins and residents start to accuse their neighbors of various dealings in association with the events. Everyone is a suspect, and the neighborhood is growing uneasy.

    Panic of monsters steadily builds, until one night when a shadowy figure appears. Charlie, a main character, grabs a shotgun and shoots the shadow out of fear. Unfortunately it is Peter Van Horn, a neighbor returning from his scouting mission; he was killed instantly. Suddenly the lights in Charlie's house come on, and he panics as the crowd begins accusing him of being both a murderer and the monster responsible for the power being out. A witch hunt begins and the neighborhood, turned angry mob becomes hysterical, as terrified residents produce weapons. A riot breaks out, and fear causes residents to shoot each other.

    The ending scene reveals that the object that had flown overhead was indeed an alien spaceship. The alien observers watch the riot on Maple Street knowing they created the mass hysteria through the manipulation of the power. In the end, the residents of Maple Street were the real monsters leaving the aliens to conclude that to conquer Earth will be easy since the humans will destroy themselves.

    Essential Questions for “Monsters are Due on Maple Street”:

    1. How can fear control you?
    2. What are causes of modern day mass hysteria?
    3. How do dire situations cause people to act out of character?
    4. Do you believe that psychological warfare is more dangerous than artillery warfare, and why?

    Activities for The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    Follow the “Maple Street Monsters” by Creating a Plot Diagram

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

    Students can create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a story by creating a six-cell cell storyboard which contains 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.

    Plot Diagram Example The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street:

    • Exposition

      On a quiet suburban Maple Street, somewhere in America, the inhabitants notice a ‘meteor’ like object fly overhead. After it passes, all electronics and electricity go dead.

    • Conflict

      A young boy named Tommy tells a story he read regarding Aliens arriving from outer space. Believing his story, the people start to suspect each other of being a secret alien.

    • Rising Action

      A Neighbor named, Pete Van Horn leaves to check the next block over. Meanwhile; Mr. Goodman's car mysteriously starts. Everyone automatically accuses him of being an alien; so they stay up through the night watching him. Steve tries to talk some sense into the mob and fails. Suddenly, he becomes a suspect as attention is pointed to the "radio" in his basement!

    • Climax

      The mob sees a figure coming towards them. Charlie grabs a gun and accidentally shoots Van Horn, who has returned. Suddenly Charlie's lights go on, and now he is the prime suspect.

    • Falling Action

      Everyone is in hysteria, Charlie screams that the real alien is Tommy the young boy who knew the events before they happened.

    • Resolution

      In the end, the aliens are watching over the town, and they did nothing but plant an idea in the people's heads. Once they did this human nature destroyed the inhabitants of Maple St; they were the monsters, not the aliens.

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    Depicting Key Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    Valuable aspects of any work of literature are the concepts of theme(s), symbols, and motif(s). Part of the common core ELA strands is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult to get students to anatomize without much assistance. Howbeit, using a storyboard students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and master their ability to analyze broad literary elements. For best practices see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities for theme(s), symbols, and motif(s).

    An example of this in the classroom could be to track the themes this story uses to send a strong lesson to its readers.

    Themes Motifs and Imagery to Look For & Discuss

    • Fear/Paranoia: Fear and suspicion can cause normal and peaceful people (neighbors and friends) to turn on one another. Despite having known each other for some time, the thoughts of each other's idiosyncrasies drive them to re-examine how well they know each other.

    • Mankind as Its Own Worst Enemy: Ever noticed how mankind often pulls itself down? This theme is not only present in this story but is universally found throughout history. We create our issues and rarely do anything to solve them.

    • Prejudices: When people make prejudgments it is often a death sentence. Once a thought is put into someone's mind; it is often hard to reverse it. This is why prejudices are so lethal. In the search for a scapegoat the suspicion and prejudice lead to their consequences.

    • Reference to People as Wild Animals: Throughout the story the author uses literary elements to create metaphors about the people acting as animals. This is symbolic of the loss of control the humans have once hysteria and paranoia take control. They become no better than animals, living on instinct rather than rationale.

    Character Mapping The Maple Street Mob!

    While students are reading it is often helpful to use a storyboard that creates a character reference log. A character map allows students to recall relevant information on characters. When reading a story, it is often little attributes that later return and become an important detail in the plot. Through the use of character mapping students will not miss this information and will be able to follow along better and catch subtle fine points which make reading more enjoyable.

    Note that you can click on this map and create a copy to your teacher account. Feel free to use this one or edit it to make it easier or harder for more advanced classes! The easiest way to use this is to print it and use as worksheets for your students to complete while reading!

    For “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” a character map is so helpful to students because they can remember who were called out as scapegoats and will visually show them how quickly things escalated. Moreover, it will provide a reference for discussion about how each was involved in adding to the hysteria.

    Example Character Map

    • Name: Steve Brand
    • Description of character’s personality:
    • Leader, calming influence, intelligent, open-minded, tries to control the mob.

    • What causes the mob to focus on him?
    • He always works late in his basement on a radio.

    • Changes in character, physically or mentally?
    • He eventually gets angry and stops trying to help.

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    Depicting Conflict Using The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    Literary conflicts are another major element often taught during ELA units. As we are continually building upon prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. Have students choose one example of each literary conflict and depict this using the storyboard creator!

    In “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” conflict is not only present, but it is also an important recurring element. Much of the conflict that arises stems from the paranoia and hysteria that the people create themselves while they are searching to blame someone.

    Examples of Conflict from The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    • Man vs. Self: The inability for each person to control their own fears. This leads to the eventual climax when Charlie shoots Van Horn; he claims it was in self-defense because he didn't know who it was.

    • Man vs. Society: It seems that the only person who was not joining the ‘mob mentality’ was Steve. Throughout the entire story, he manages to keep a level head and tries not to jump the gun or accuse anyone. He remains logical and rational and tries to come up with a reasonable explanation that goes against the group.

    • Man vs. Man: Paranoia which causes neighbors to turn on each other. A perfect example of this is how Charlie turned on Les when his car mysteriously started!

    Depicting Literary Elements from The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

    Most short stories and screenplays are rich in figurative language and literary elements that are used to enhance the symbolism, motifs and themes within the plot. “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” is no exception. The use of similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia can be abundantly found.

    A great lesson plan, after you have read, is to ask your students to create a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them a list of figurative language to find and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the story! They will have an absolute blast and earn mastery of the words when they are completed. Check out this example below:

    Elements of Figurative Language - Motifs of Hysteria and Animal like Behavior!

    • Metaphor
    • A comparison without using like or as.

      Example: “Maple Street was a bedlam. It was an outdoor asylum for the insane.”

    • Metaphor
    • A comparison without using like or as.

      Example: "A fever had taken hold now, a hot burning virus..."

    • Simile
    • A comparison using like or as.

      Example: "They blinked foolishly at the lights, and their mouths gaped like fishes"

    • Simile
    • A comparison using like or as.

      Example: "Like a hippopotamus in a circus"

    • Onomatopoeia
    • When the spelling of a word mimics its' sound.

      Example: "Everyone on the street looked up at the sound of the whoosh."

    • Personification
    • Giving something human like qualities.

      Example: "The dull, dumb, blind prejudice of the man"

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    Modern Day Adaptation or Alternate Ending Option!

    Creating Parodies and Satires, and Modern Day Adaptation are rich with literary elements. Moreover, they are valuable assets for teaching students about literature. Through creative writing students learn to use literary elements in context committing mastery of these terms into their memory.

    A valuable assignment you can give students is to have them create their own modern day adaptation. For this assignment you can have students rewrite the ending, rewrite it in a more modern setting, or choose an event from history to depict that mimics the theme that fear and human nature are our worst destructors. Examples of times in history include; The Salem Witch Trials, Events leading up to the Holocaust, Japanese Internment Camps, Post 911 racial profiling.

    Don’t Let the Fun Stop There! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas.

    1. Use storyboard that show specifically causes and effects of events that happen.
    2. Use a storyboard to show how mass hysteria could start in your own classroom.
    3. Create a storyboard that helps learn new vocabulary words with Visual vocabulary.
    4. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

    From Stephanie (Head of Creativity)

    For inspiration when creating scenes and characters we watched the black and white episode of "The Monsters Are Due on Maple St." It's so cool that this story was converted from a black and white TV show to a screenplay and graphic novel! These formats give students a chance to read this story when chances were before, they would never have been exposed to it. Despite that the original was written in the 1950's its theme is still very relevant today, and the story is more appealing now than ever before.

    • Artist Favorite: Need a car? Use search! Our artist have created a bunch of great cars from all eras.
    • Pro Tip: A great way to create crowds for your storyboard is to make use of the ones in the Silhouettes category. You can copy them, invert them, and cut them to make any size crowd you need!

    Make sure to use our image search that has over 45,000 items!

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    Help Share Storyboard That!

    Check out Photos For Class a Website we Created to Quickly Find and Auto-cite Creative Commons Images!