This is an activity I whipped up for class a few weeks ago - and which I spent this morning modifying just a tad. It's designed to accompany chapters 3 and 4 of the ESL textbook, Passages 2. The grammar points that these chapters focus on include ~ing clauses (Ex: Hoping to find proof of life on Mars, NASA launched the Curiosity probe.), active-voice reporting clauses (Ex: Scientists claim (that) they have found proof of life on Mars.), and passive-voice reporting clauses (Ex: It is believed (that) life once existed on Mars.). The main topics of Chapter 4 are superstitions, beliefs, and legends.
I adapted the short story, The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs to contain language that my students would be able to comprehend. I also changed the sum of cash featured in the story from £200 to $20,000, to make it both American (as my students are studying here in the US) as well as modern. Lastly, I made sure to include examples of the three grammar points mentioned above, as well as to use some of the vocabulary from the chapter. If you'd like to take a look at (or use) my version of the story, you can download it from here. (I have highlighted the grammar points in hot pink, and the relevant vocabulary words in yellow. Also, dropbox seems to have done something wonky to my formatting; I promise everything was properly formatted in my original!)
After reading through the story, I also showed my students a clip from The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror II, in which the Simpson family acquires their own magical monkey's paw. Unfortunately, it's not readily available for free online, but you can download the episode from Amazon for $1.99.
This lesson works really well! The students seem to enjoy it, and they get to review the grammar and vocabulary without realizing that they're doing a grammar/vocab review. Also, a big hat tip to my friend YH who first came up with the idea of using The Simpsons' version of The Monkey's Paw as an accompaniment to Passages.