A Writing Contest for Frankenstein Day

Frankenstein Day takes place on the last Friday of October. Do your students know the story of Frankenstein? Do they know the story behind the story?

Listen or Read The Story Behind Frankenstein

Mary Shelley was in a writing group. The writers challenged each other to think of a ghost story. They talked about scary things that were happening in the world to help inspire each other. Mary Shelley tried to think of an idea, but she couldn’t come up with anything. The other writers were busy at work! Finally, Mary Shelley had a bad dream about a scientist who created a monster that ended up coming to life. According to legend, Mary Shelley had the dream while she was awake! She was afraid of her own dream, and she decided to write it down. Her idea turned into a novel and a film. Many people think the monster’s name in the story is Frankenstein. It’s not! In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein is actually the last name of the scientist who created the monster. Over the years, it’s almost like the monster claimed the name for itself. Creepy!

Here is a fun activity that you can do with your students this week. If you tried this week’s Lesson of the Week on writing Adventure stories, you can use a similar approach with this writing activity.

1. Share the background about Mary Shelley and Frankenstein with your students. (You can play the listening above, read it out loud yourself, or paraphrase it.)

2. Put your students into small groups just like Mary Shelley and her writing friends. Ask the students to tell each other about some dreams that they have had recently. They can share funny, scary, or strange dreams. They can also talk about things that scare them.

3. Have students brainstorm a list of at least five scary words. Allow them to use a dictionary or thesaurus. Encourage them to use at least three nouns and at least two adjectives. If they can come up with ten words, that’s even better!

4. Challenge each student to go home (or back to their desks) and write a spooky ghost story for Frankenstein Day! They should try to use all of the scary words their group thought of.

5. On Frankenstein Day, ask your students to hand in their stories. Give them the option of being part of the contest. (Read the stories first, to make sure that they are appropriate for class.) Ask students to hold a secret vote for the scariest story! Give the winning writer this Mary Shelley Award for Spooky Fiction. Ask for permission from your student, then copy and paste the winning story in the comments below.

Mary Shelley Spooky Fiction AwardDownload the PDF

Tell other teachers about the Mary Shelley Spooky Fiction contest!

Note: If your students are too young, and you don’t want to use a “scary” theme, you can still hold a writing contest on Frankenstein Day. Have groups come up with their own theme like Mary Shelley and her friends did. It can be a story about anything, as long as everyone in the group uses the same topic and word list. Alternatively, you could try last week’s Draw a Monster activity for Frankenstein Day.

Find this week’s featured Writing Lesson in the Project Depot.


Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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