Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Twilight Zone in the Classroom

If you know anything about my teaching style, you know that I love to use movies in my classroom to teach literary elements. Kids get tired of doing the same old assignments for identifying and analyzing these elements so sometimes I have to get creative! I also like introducing students to films (or T.V. shows as the case may be) that they would not normally interact with. 


The Twilight Zone

I decided to compile a few of my favorite episodes and what literary elements can be reviewed within each episode. Really any episode of The Twilight Zone will contain most of the literary elements, but I sometimes like to have my students focus on just one.

I was able to find most episodes on both IMDB and Youtube for free and have included those links. 

(Check back tomorrow for a post on how to view Youtube videos in your classroom even if it is blocked at your school!)


“Time Enough at Last”

Foreshadowing Clues:
1. The narration as Bemis is called into his boss’ office
2.     His reading has gotten him in trouble previously (Boss, wife, customers)
3.     His glasses fall off as Helen rips up the novel
4.     Newspaper headline about bomb being capable of total destruction
5.     Continued references to time
6.     He does not seem to care for his glasses very often
7.     He knocks the counter over breaking the glass before he finds the gun.
8.     “If there were only something to do!”
9.     “All the books I’ll EVER need”
10. He starts planning his life in books
11. He mentions that he has ALL the time in the world

Bonus: You can also discuss irony with his glasses breaking at the end and his having ALL the time in the world. 

“Eye of the Beholder”

Foreshadowing Clues:

  1. Why doesn’t the audience see the actor’s faces? They are always hidden or in shadows and silhouettes.
  2. Red Herring foreshadowing with all the references to how “Ugly” the patient is makes us think she will be odd looking to “us”
  3.  Narrator, “Don’t be surprised by what you are about to see.”
  4. We know the society is odd because they mention:
    She wants to “fit” in with society
    They don’t want to spend more money to help
    They won’t let her go outside
    They have segregated off people of her ”kind” like a ghetto or concentration camp
    She can’t live a life around “normal” people
    There are rules against people like her
    Ugliness is a crime
    Doctor is not compassionate and lacking bedside manner
    Doctor is supposed to be careful about saying out loud that people should be allowed to be different
    The “leader” discusses glorious conformity
    Society can terminate undesirables

“To Serve Man”

The story of how our main character came to be aboard the spaceship is told through flashback.

“The Living Doll”
  1. Supernatural/Technology: Father is against the doll which could be considered both technology and supernatural
  2. Character: Father is against daughter and mother who don't want him to get rid of the doll
  3. Character: Father is against the daughter because he makes her feel rejected due to the fact that she is just his "Stepchild"
  4. Character: Father is against mother for buying a doll the daughter doesn't need/can't afford
  5. Self: The mother cannot have children
  6. Self: The daughter goes to therapy because of her feelings of rejection
  7. Self: The father is bitter about his lack of children and his deep seated issues with his family.

“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”
Potential themes:
  • Fear and suspicion can cause peaceful people to turn on one another.
  • Mankind is its own worst enemy.
  • Prejudices can kill.
  • Suspicion can destroy
  • Thoughtless, frightened searching for a scapegoat will have a fallout.

Fun companion idea:
Have the students read “They’re Made out of Meat” and compare the two stories. 

Symbolism (the masks):
“The Masks”

Jason wants his family to wear masks that are the "opposite" of their personalities. Son-in-law Wilfred, who claims he’s “friendly,” wears the cold, calculating mask; granddaughter Paula, who’s arrogant and selfish and obsessed with her own beauty, wears a mask with a stuck up nose and high cheekbones; and so on. In the end, the masks bring to light each of the family member's true personalities. The masks symbolize who they are on the inside and bring them to the outside where they cannot be hidden.

Some other fun episodes to use for plot/characterization/conflict/theme:

“Nick of Time”:

“The Obsolete Man”

It’s a Good Life”

“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”

“Five Characters in Search of an Exit”

Fun Companion Idea:

Have the students watch the Felicity  “Help for the Lovelorn” and compare the two. (I know that it is rated TV-14, but I didn’t re-watch that episode to know how appropriate it is for younger audiences).

I thought that my kids would complain about watching these old black and white episodes, but they really got into them! Although, I may have scared a few for life with "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" but I'm okay with that!

I created some handout for students to fill out that could work for any movie (or in this case, T.V. Show). You can find those:


  1. I began teaching some of my more advanced classes different themes and ideas with this
    TV show and they seem to enjoy it quite a bit so I googled some tips. This is how I found your page, and oddly enough, your first three entries (Time Enough At Last, Eye of the Beholder, and To Serve Man) are in the exact same order that I have started showing the episodes to them. How funny XD