“Lamb to the Slaughter” – Classroom Activities

These exercises were sent in by Frankie Meehan, an ESL Teacher at United World College of SE Asia, Singapore. If you have any questions, please email him at [email protected]. Thanks Frankie!

NOTE: Any page/line numbers below refer to Tales of the Unexpected, Penguin, 1979. You may need to change them to reflect the particular version of the story you’re using.

ANOTHER NOTE: Mr. Meehan acknowledges that the “Perfect Murder” activity is not original. However, he is unaware of the original source.


1. Jigsaw

The following excerpts all come from the short story. They are jumbled up. Try to arrange them in the correct order.

  • “For God’s sake,” he said, hearing her, but not turning round, “don’t make supper for me. I’m going out.”
  • “Tired, darling?”
    “Yes,” he said. “I’m tired.”
  • “It’s the old story,” he said. “Get the weapon and you’ve got the man.”
  • “This is going to be a bit of a shock to you, I’m afraid,” he said.
  • When the clock said ten minutes to five, she began to listen, and a few moments later, punctually as always, she heard the tyres on the gravel outside…
  • “Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.”
  • All the old love and longing for him welled up inside her, and she ran over to him, knelt down beside him, and began to cry her heart out.
  • “Quick! Come quick! Patrick’s dead!”
  • Soon, other men began to come into the house. First a doctor, then two detectives, one of whom she knew by name.

2. The Perfect Murder

What would be the ingredients of the “perfect murder”?

Put the following ideas into order of importance. (Add ideas of your own if you want to.)

      a) It should be easy to arrange.
      b) It should leave no clues.
      c) There should be no noise.
      d) It should look like suicide.
      e) It should take place in a lonely, isolated place.
      f) It should be cheap.
      g) No violence should be necessary.
      h) It should look like an accident.
      i) It should be quick.
    j) The murderer should have a good alibi.

3. Vocabulary

Find the following words in the story and try to work out their meaning. Join them to the definitions on the right. The first one has been done to get you started!

Word Line Answer Definition Letter
anxiety 8 F confused, not understanding A
tranquil 12 a heavy stick with a knob at one end, for hitting someone B
punctually 17 extremely happy C
blissful 30 a very strong feeling which guides someone D
amber 55 in the building E
bewildered 89 feeling worried F
instinct 111 comforting someone who is sad, cheering them up G
club 137 annoyed, irrittated H
peculiar 161 turned from liquid to solid I
frantic 206 being kind to visitors J
grief 206 on time, not late K
congealed 244 mad, wild L
on the premises 290 calm, peaceful M
exasperated 309 extreme sadness after someone dies or goes away N
consoling 322 strange, unusual O
hospitality 338 an orange-yellow colour P