Using ESL Drama with There was an old lady who swallowed a fly

Image result for there was an old lady images childs play

This well-known rhyme lends itself well to using some creative and interactive drama activities with children. It is also useful for young ESL learners as there is a lot of repetition in it. Even though young children may only be able to join in on the first line introducing each animal, the repetition helps build memory and fluency.

Teacher Role play

  1. To introduce the story you could simply adapt a kitchen apron sewing/gluing or stapling  a transparent front pocket to  represent the old lady’s tummy. You could then cut out and color the story animals that are swallowed by the od lady.(laminate the cut outs so they can also be re-used for other activities in future lessons)
  1. Instead of simple reading the book – for extra fun and to add a surprise element, before your class arrives, dress yourself up as the old lady using a wig or head scarf, pair of eye glasses, walking stick and your apron of course.
  1. As the children walk into class you can delight them with your “old lady” saying things like “I’m hungry, I’m very very hungry- have you got something to eat?” Look around the room,  in children’s pockets, in their ears! Children love it! Don’t forget to dramatize your character using a squeaky voice and aching back!!
  1. Sit the children in a circle on the floor and set the animal flashcards in front of them. Start telling the story using lots of mime and animation as you introduce the animals encourage the children to indicate the correct correct animal before you swallow it loudly and hungrily and put it in your transparent tummy.
  1. For an extra role-play exercise – dress the children up and get them walking and talking and imagining they are 100 years old. Or to imagine how it would feel to have a spider wriggling inside!
  1. You could also provide them with their own zip-lock bags and get them to make their own personal animals or finger puppets to put inside. Repeat the story again with everyone choosing their correct animal to eat.

Here is an interesting animated version of the story.

The following link to shadow puppet play I found on youtube may give you some creative ideas on how to stage the story

 

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2 thoughts on “Using ESL Drama with There was an old lady who swallowed a fly

  1. This seems a fun idea, and I see where you could take this with a number of nursery tales and rhymes. The repetition of phrases is helpful to new English learners, and I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t enjoy puppets!

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