Short Story – “Three is a Lucky Number”

Hey everyone,

Today’s lesson is based on the short story “Three is a Lucky Number” which is part of Crime Story Collection (Penguin Readers – level 4). I must say readers are great to develop reading skills, especially when it comes to reading for pleasure. In this lesson students are going to read a short story because it is faster and sometimes more practical to read and most of the time, it is easier to contextualize and have students find detailed-information.

Before you read it, keep in mind all my lessons are developed for one-to-one classes, however, they are quite adaptable so you may just add some changes such as group interactions and it’s done.

Three is a Lucky Number

Lesson Goal: Develop reading skills; work on vocabulary (random words); speaking practice by discussing regrets and creativity to write a different ending of the story.
Suitable for: Adults and intermediate students.
Grammar Focus: Past modals to talk about regrets (should have + past participle) and hypothetical past situations (would have + past participle)

Note #1 : download the printable worksheet at the end of the post so you follow all the instructions to each activity.

Warm up/Discussion:

  • Start the discussion part by asking students about crime stories and encourage them to come up with soap operas, novels or even real events related to crime stories.
  • You may either ask them to read the story one lesson before or let them read it in the classroom.
  • Encourage everyone to speak, including lower-level students who can simply mention names of stories and tell you if they like it or not.
  • Make sure all students have the story available or group them so everyone can take a quick look at the reader and look up words and information throughout the lesson.

Words in the story 

  • If you teach groups, it’s a good idea to group or pair them and assign each group a set of words. You can easily add more words to the task or even ask them to include a few unknown words to the task.
  • The goal is to explain what the words have to do with the story, however you may use this moment to expand vocabulary, play with synonyms, antonyms allow students to use dictionaries to check meaning of new words.

Speak up!

  • To make it more fun, make ask students to move their chairs to form a cirle and then, the first student to raise its hand to answer, gets a point. Just be careful not to make shy students afraid of speaking and getting their answers wrong. As I always say, it’s up to you to know your group and check what is worth trying or not. Grouping them instead of having an individual task is quite efficient as well.

What would you have done?

  • That’s the moment you may introduce the grammar point with lots of examples on the board. Start by asking them:“What would you have done if you were Edyth?”
    “Would you have killed him?”
    “I think I would have called the cops… no, no. Maybe I would have tried to get out of the house.”
    “Oh… I wish I had done things differently! I regret not doing them!
    “I should have killed him, or maybe I should have told all my family about my new relationship.”

    A little body language here is essential so students understand what you are saying – things you shoud/could have done If you were Edyth, but you didn’t. This way, students tend to focus on what you say and how you feel, not on the structure you are using and that’s exactly what we want: focus on meaning!

    Come up with more examples on the board and elicit more ideas. After that, ask the questions in the worksheet to help them become more familiar with the new structure.


  • Finally, assign the writing section as homework and ask them to use the words given in their paragraph. It’s always good to remind them about the most common connectors used in writing to make it sound more ‘natural’.


I hope you enjoy this lesson and please feel free to make any comments and suggestions.

DOWNLOAD: Printable worksheet