The Enormous Turnip – Role Play

The Enormous Turnip is a super simple story for children learning English as a second language. Instead of using a book to read from I prefer flashcards as you the (teacher or parent) are free to adapt the language you use according to the abilities of the children.

With storytelling whether I am using a book or flashcards I try to always include some theatrical props to add extra interest and encourage group participation. With the Enormous Turnip I made a little shovel, an envelope full of seeds (rice) and a watering can. I also include mask cut outs which I stick to plastic spoons for the children to hold for role play work.

You can create a mini role play by simply using props similar to the ones I use in the video and involve children by asking them to sow the seeds and water them instead of yourself. Or , if you have enough children in your class, add to the fun by asking them to interpret the story characters . Give them a mask and tell them in turn to pull the “flashcard”!

I also find a great exercise after I have told the story is get the children to act it out!

1. Play some relaxing music to the children

2. Tell the children to lie on the floor and make themselves as small as possible

3. Tell them that you are the farmer and using the little shovel indicate digging holes around the children

4. Sow the seeds

5. Water the seeds (make some whooshing water sounds)

6. Tell the children to imagine they are tiny turnip seeds growing slowly under the earth

7. Growing bigger and bigger and bigger until they become the most ENORMOUS TURNIPS! (bodies and faces)

Great fun and an interesting way to repeat key vocabulary.

Happy Teaching

Miranda Flynn Legge


10 thoughts on “The Enormous Turnip – Role Play

  1. Thanks for share these interesting videos. I copy on my blog the video “5 little monkeys” I hope you don´t mind. It´s a blog for an activity I’m doing in the university for be an English teacher.

    Gracie mile

  2. Hi,
    No problem! I’m glad you find the video useful and good luck with your course.
    A big hello also to Spain:-)

  3. Your lesson drama is great, but I was a little bit (for an hour :)) shocked while watching the tale “Turnip”. I was always sure that this is a Russian tale, all Russian children know it by heart. But why in English version it is word-by-word similar, I wonder… And I wonder, is there such a tale in Spanish?

  4. Hi
    Thanks for your message. I was also very surprised to find out today (thanks to Wikipedia) the origins of this popular fairytale. “The Giant Turnip” or “The Enormous Turnip”, as we British know it by, is in fact of Russian or Slavic decent and was first published in 1863 in the collection of Russian Folk Tales, edited and published by Aleksandr Afanas’ev. Wow !!! I had no idea!!
    If you are interested in a Spanish version of the story “El nabo gigante” check out the link for this bilingual version in English and Spanish.

  5. Hi,
    Just wanted to say I’m very new to teaching young French children English as a foreign language and your videos have massively helped, not only as content ideas but also in showing me how to present the stories to children. Thanks very much! Hope to see some more videos soon!

  6. Hi Rosie
    Many thanks for your kind comments. I’m really glad that my videos are of some help with your students. The Enormous Turnip is a favourite with children as it is quite simple to get everyone actively involved especailly if you add costumes and props. Happy teaching and I hope to publish some new videos soon.

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