Teaching "The Most Dangerous Game" Activities and Lesson Ideas

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Use this activity for teaching “The Most Dangerous Game” and teaching writing. Have each student do the following after reading the short story:

  1. Write a brief summary of the story, 100-200 words.
  2. Write a brief analysis the story, extolling its literary merit, 150-200 words.
  3. List lesson activities for “The Most Dangerous Game”: 3-4 ideas in a bulleted list.
  4. Give each section a rating of 1-5 stars.

A Short Summary of the Story (5 out of 5)

Sanger Rainsford discusses hunting with his friend Whitney as the two travel by boat in the Caribbean just off Ship Trap Island. Whitney goes to bed and Rainsford falls into the “blood warm” waters of the Caribbean as the boat motors toward its destination. Rainsford hears gunshots, swims toward them, and reaches the shore where he finds a mansion inhabited by the eccentric hunter General Zaroff.

Zaroff tells Rainsford he hunts the most dangerous game on his island, people. Rainsford is mortified when he is chosen to become the most dangerous game in Zaroff’s most dangerous game. Zaroff has several chances to kill Rainsford, yet chooses not to. Zaroff appears to have won the game, but Rainsford jumps off a cliff, swims to the other side of the island, and beats Zaroff back to his mansion, where he feeds Zaroff to his dogs.

Teaching Literary Devices (5 out of 5)

The following literary devices are worthy of discussion:

  1. Irony: Examples include Rainsford turning from hunter to hunted back to hunter, Zaroff passing up several winning opportunities, and Rainsford’s surprise at the end.
  2. Pun: What is the Most Dangerous Game? Game in the title of the story refers to the animal/person being hunted; it also refers to the sport of hunting, specifically Zaroff’s version of the sport.
  3. Suspense: Connel uses dangerous action, pacing, and foreshadowing to create suspense.
  4. Foreshadowing: Ship Trap Island and Whitney and Rainsford’s conversation at the beginning of the story are two obvious examples of foreshadowing.
  5. Hunting: Some students hunt; others oppose it. Sounds like a good time for a debate.
  6. The 2nd amendment: Zaroff governs Ship Trap Island, owns several guns, and strips Rainsford’s right to possess a gun. Zaroff’s advantage is superior.
  7. Conflict: The Most Dangerous Game contains a classic man v. man conflict.

Learning Activities (5 out of 5)

Use these lesson activities to improve your teaching of this short story.

  1. Prereading Surveys: Create a simple True/False survey before reading the story.

    • ___ Hunting is a sport.
    • ___ Animals have no feelings.
    • ___ Hunting is evil.
    • ___ Hunting is unfair.
    • ___ Animals have emotions.
    • ___ Strength is more important than intelligence.
    • ___ Bringing a gun to a knife fight is fair.
  2. Prereading Activity #2 (geared toward students who need motivation):

    • Write “The Most Dangerous Game” on the board. Put a square around it.

    • All around the square write the following words: hunting, reason, ship, survival, dangerous, mansion, dogs, island, game.

    • Tell students you’re going to read “The Most Dangerous Game.” The words around the box are associated with the story.

    • Instruct students to make a prediction using each word in a sentence.

  3. Character/Conflict Activity: Instruct students to fill out a chart on the two characters:

    • In the far left column, write “Rainsford” on the top row, “Zaroff” in the middle row, and “Me” in the bottom row.
    • In the top row, write “Intelligence” in the 2nd column, “Hunting Ability” in the third column, “Strengths” in the fourth column, “Attitude Towards Animals” in the fifth column, and “Attitude Towards Humans” in the last column.
    • Instruct students to fill out the chart as they read.
  4. Adapt this suspense lesson plan or irony lesson plan.

  5. Write an analysis of the title of the story.


  • Classroom experience.

This post is part of the series: Teaching Short Stories in High School

Teaching short stories forms an integral part of teaching high school English.

  1. Lesson Activities for “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
  2. Teaching Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”
  3. Teaching Harrison Bergeron: Ideas & Activities
  4. Teaching Ideas for “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
  5. Teacher’s Guide to “The Pit and the Pendulum”: Activities, Lesson Plans, Summary and Analysis