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The Pearl, by John Steinbeck Teaching Ideas

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 2/8/2012

These teaching ideas will help your students better comprehend and analyze "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck.

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    Pre-reading Writing Prompts

    Help students prepare for reading The Pearl with these writing prompts.

    Before Reading

    1. Have you ever received or accomplished something you thought would be great but turned out not so good? Write a narrative explaining what happened. (narrative essay)
    2. Write about an experience that taught you something about money. (narrative essay)
    3. What family or cultural traditions have shaped your attitudes or beliefs about money, family, and education? (informative essay)
    4. Education provides freedom and opportunity. Do you agree? (persuasive essay)

    During reading

    1. End of Chapter 1: Have you ever been angry enough to punch a steel gate? Describe what made you so mad. (narrative or cause and effect essay)
    2. End of Chapter 2: What is the role of money in your life? Does/would it solve your problems? Can it bring happiness? What negatives and positives come with instant wealth? (persuasive essay)
    3. End of Chapter 3: What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to accomplish them? (informative essay)
    4. End of Chapter 4: Have you ever felt everyone and everything was against you. How did you overcome it? (narrative essay)

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    Teaching Ideas During Reading

    Pearl of Great Price 

    Help students interact with the reading with these teaching ideas for The Pearl by John Steinbeck.

    1. The Doctor
      • Steinbeck gives an excellent description of the doctor on pages 10-11. Instruct students to draw the doctor (individual whiteboards work great for this assignment). Along with the drawing, write down what the doctor's description implies.
      • Analyze Steinbeck's word choice when describing the doctor and discuss word connotation--"puffy little hammocks of flesh," his mouth drooped with discontent," "his voice with the fat that pressed on his throat," "the furnishings were heavy and dark and gloomy."
    2. The Pearl
      • The Pearl of the World is a symbol. Instruct students to list possible symbols. You may wish to discuss The Pearl of Heaven from the New Testament (Matthew 13, 45-46): "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
    3. Literary Devices
      • Symbolism Lesson Ideas - Discuss the pearl, the canoe and the scorpion.
      • Personification - The town itself takes on a life of its own. Instruct students to describe their home town, giving it human characteristics.
      • Irony - Modify this great irony lesson plan and use it for The Pearl.
      • Plot - Make a chronology chart and analyze cause and effect as a chain of events. Discuss if and how the tragedy could have been avoided.

    How did these work for your class? Do you have any additional ideas to share? Let me know in the comments (teachers everywhere will thank you).

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    Photo Credit

    Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Pearl Teaching Ideas

Make teaching The Pearl easier with these ideas.
  1. The Pearl, by John Steinbeck Teaching Ideas
  2. Fun Activities for Students Reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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