The Lottery Lesson Plans | The Lottery Summary | The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson was so controversial that after its publication on June 26, 1948 in The New Yorker, readers canceled their subscriptions and peppered Jackson with hate mail and threats. The story began an important discussion of what happens when old traditions don’t evolve.

Published just three years after the end of World War II, the story echoes the frightening conformity that existed in Germany during the previous decade. It is rumored that the basis for Jackson’s story was rooted in her concerns about lingering antisemitism.

This story brings up several important themes for students to discuss, including the dangers of blindly following tradition, mob mentality, and the inversion of our culture’s family dynamics.

Student Activities for The Lottery

Essential Questions for "The Lottery"

  1. How important are traditions for a community? What kinds of purposes do they serve?
  2. Under what circumstances should a tradition be reconsidered or discontinued?
  3. What is conformity? When is it good to conform? To not conform?
  4. What is inhumanity? How do we know when something is inhumane?

    1. "The Lottery" Summary

      In a small village, somewhere in America, on a warm summer day (June 27th to be exact), the 300 citizens begin to gather in the square. The young boys of the town, fresh out of school for the summer, gathered stones into piles. Slowly, the families trickle into the square, and there is an air of expectation for this annual event, something that is rooted in deep tradition started by the founders of this town years ago. Mr. Summers places a black box filled with slips of paper, on a stool in the square. The box is as old as the town, and while Mr. Summers talks about making a new one every year, the people are reluctant to change such an important symbol of their tradition, even though they’ve forgotten many of the other pieces of this annual ritual.

      As the lottery commences, the heads of each household walk up to the box and pick out a slip of paper from it. They then go back to their spot and wait for all of the names to be called. Typically, the heads of households are the men; however, if a woman is widowed, she becomes the head of the household, at least until her eldest son reaches 16.

      When Mr. Summers reaches the end of the names, the heads of households unfold their papers. There are whispers that, “Bill Hutchinson’s got it.” Bill’s wife, Tessie Hutchinson, begins to yell and accuse Mr. Summers of not giving Bill enough time to pick the paper he wanted. The other women chide her, telling her that they all took the same chance, and that she should be a good sport. This is the reader’s first indication that the lottery doesn’t involve winning a fortune; there’s something more sinister behind this particular ritual.

      Tessie, Bill, and their three children, Bill Jr., 12-year-old Nancy, and toddler Little Davy, are called up to the box. Mr. Summers takes Bill’s paper, and puts in four other blank ones. He stirs them up, and each member of the family draws a paper. Bill, and the children’s papers are all blank, but Tessie’s is marked with an ominous black spot. She begins to scream that this isn’t fair, or right. The reader begins to understand the purpose of the stones the children have been gathering. Within moments, the entire town gathers their stones and surrounds Tessie. Tessie continues to protest, perhaps realizing for the first time the barbarism behind this ugly tradition. She isn’t able to scream for long, however, as the story closes with the townspeople “upon her”.

      Buy The Lottery on Amazon

      Ideas for Post-Reading Activities

      Storyboard That is an excellent tool for students to create fun and engaging projects as a culminating activity after finishing a novel. In addition to our premade activities, here are some ideas that teachers can customize and assign to students to spark creativity in individual students, pairs, or small groups for a final project. Several of these ideas include Storyboard That templates that can be printed out or copied into your teacher dashboard and assigned digitally. All final projects can be printed out, presented as a slide show, or, for an extra challenge, as an animated GIF!

      1. "The Lottery" is filled with many interesting literary devices for students to explore. One element that is used so well throughout this powerful short story is irony. Students can storyboard the examples of irony they come across in the text! To learn more about how to teach irony in the classroom, see our article: The Three Types of Irony which includes an example storyboard pertaining to "The Lottery"!

      2. For Groups: Choose a scene from the story and write a short play to reenact to the class. Use the traditional storyboard layout to plan out your scenes. You can add text to your storyboards, or simply use the cells to visualize each scene of your play.

      3. Using the timeline layout, retell the story in chronological order. Our timeline layout gives you the options to include year, month, day, and even hour! You may also choose to omit these altogether.

      4. Choose a setting from the story and create a map of the setting using the small poster or worksheet layout. Use free form or other text boxes to include a key or label the different parts of the map.

      5. Using one of Storyboard That’s board game templates, create a game based on the book for your classmates to play!

      6. For Groups: Divide the chapters of the book amongst your group members. Each member of the group creates a storyboard for their assigned chapter. This can be done as a collaborative project, or separately for longer novels.

      7. Using the worksheet layout and Storyboard That’s worksheet assets, create a test or a quiz for other students in the class. You can create all kinds of questions such as multiple choice, short answer, and even matching! When you are done, be sure to make an answer key.

      8. Using one of Storyboard That’s biography poster templates, create a poster about the character of your choice. Be sure to include important biographical features such as: place and date of birth, family life, accomplishments, etc.

      9. Choose a chapter from the novel and create a storyboard that shows that chapter from another character’s point of view. For an extra challenge, use the T-chart layout to compare the original point of view with another character’s point of view!

      10. Create a book jacket of the novel using one of Storyboard That’s book jacket templates. Use Storyboard That art to create the cover, and write a summary of the story on the back, just like real books have!

      11. Using one of Storyboard That’s social media templates as a starting point, create a social media page for one or more of the characters in the novel. Be sure to think how the character thinks while creating this page.

      12. Create a scrapbook page made by one of the characters in the novel. Storyboard That has lots of premade templates that you can use as is, or change to fit your character’s personality! Check out our scrapbook templates today!

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our English Language Arts Category!
View All Teacher Resources
*(This Will Start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)
© 2024 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
StoryboardThat is a trademark of Clever Prototypes, LLC, and Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office