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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans

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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans


Instant Resources for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain!


Whether you're looking for a short story to pair with the novel you're teaching, or you need a 2- to 3-day sub plan to use with the stories in your textbooks, Prestwick House Instant Short Story Packs go beyond basic comprehension to help students learn how to analyze literature. 

Each downloadable pack addresses key skills through 5-10 standards-based analysis questions by guiding students through a series of scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities. 

This Instant Short Story Pack for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain includes:

  • Scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities
  • Standards-based objectives
  • Introduction and pre-reading notes
  • Complete short story text
  • Rigorous analysis questions
  • Detailed teacher's answer guide


About The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was Mark Twain’s first successful short piece of writing—the first one to win him national attention. It was published in 1865 under the title “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.” In 1867, Twain included it in his first short story collection, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches.

The story was written because a friend of Twain’s asked him to submit something to a book the friend was compiling. Twain struggled so long for an idea and reworked that idea so many times that he missed the deadline for his friend’s book. The friend, however, submitted it to The New York Saturday Press. “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” appeared in the November 18, 1865, edition.

Like many short stories you’ll study in school, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog” is not packed with “meaning.” There are no philosophical, social, or cultural themes to debate. It is entertainment, pure and simple. You might ask: then why do we study it?

One answer is that Mark Twain is one of the most important figures in American literature, and this is the story that made him famous. For that reason alone, it’s worth being familiar with. Another reason is simply that it’s fun. The most important reason, however, is that “Jumping Frog” is an amazingly well-crafted story, and there is a lot you can learn about humor and storytelling by looking at the techniques Twain uses to get the story to you. Many scholars like to examine Twain’s attempts to re-create the sound of his characters’ speech. Some scholars like to focus on the three levels of narration involved in telling this tale.

Make no mistake about it: Jim Smiley’s tale about his frog is pointless. Simon Wheeler’s telling this story about Jim Smiley—who is clearly not the man the narrator is trying to find— is pointless. The impatient narrator’s telling Wheeler’s account of Smiley’s story to us is ironically the most pointless act of all.

Why would he repeat—virtually word for word—this tale, which has nothing to do with the task appointed to him by his friend—especially when he himself suspects the search for Leonidas W. Smiley was a prank to begin with?

So, don’t overthink it. If the odd spellings (which are supposed to be phonetic) make the reading more difficult, read the story out loud. Maybe find a recording of someone reading the story—and read along with it.

But mostly, just enjoy the story.