The Enormous Turnip – Role Play

The Enormous Turnip is a super simple story for children learning English as a second language and useful for introducing or revising family and animal vocabulary. An alternative to reading directly from a book is to use picture cards and adapt the language according to the children’s language abilities

Storytelling using theatre props and costumes add extra elements of curiosity, facilitate comprehension and encourage group participation.

To accompany  The Enormous Turnip  try making a little paper shovel, an envelope full of seeds (rice) and a paper watering can.  Include simple coloured masks and 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  and water the seeds.  Add to the fun by encouraging children to interpret the story characters . Give them a mask and tell them in turn to pull the “flashcard”!

show 3

http://www.teatroinglese.it  The Enormous Turnip end of year production

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

1. Play some relaxing instrumental music for the children to listen to

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

3. Explain that you are the farmer and using the shovel, pretend to dig holes around the children

4. Sow the seeds (by shaking the envelope of rice over the children’s heads)

5. Water the seeds (make some whooshing water sounds over the children’s bodies)

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

7. Continue watering the “seeds” and then explain to the children that the sun is coming out and becomes warmer and slowly the seeds begin to grow, bigger and bigger and bigger until they become the most ENORMOUS TURNIPS waiting to be pulled out of the earth by the farmer (play act with the children and show examples of how they can express the growing seeds using their bodies and faces )

Great fun and a theatrical way to review key vocabulary.

Miranda Flynn Legge

The Three little Pigs (simple finger puppet play for Esl learners)


I wrote this mini play for a class of 4-8 year old children. I tried to make it super simple and comprehensive for both children learning English as a second language or very young children who are still unable to memorize longer pieces of dialogue. I also used hand puppets and encouraged the children to make simple prop houses made out of cardboard, sticks and straw. A puppet theatre can be shop bought or if you have a tight budget, a black curtain can be positioned over a hung washing line to create a puppet stage.

2- 10 Characters

1-4 Narrators

Mummy pig

Timmy pig

Sam pig

Jack Pig


Brick/Hay/Stick salesman


Mother pig’s kitchen

Narrator: A Mummy Pig has three baby pigs called Timmy, Sam and Jack. (pigs enter) Timmy likes singing, Sam likes fishing and Jack likes sleeping (Jack can be heard snoring)

Mummy pig: You are too pig for my little house. You must build your own houses

Pigs:  Goodbye Mummy 

Mummy pig Goodbye little pigs. Be careful of the big bad wolf. He’ll eat you!


Along the road

Narrator 2 :  Timmy Pig meets a man

Salesman : Hello little pig do you want some straw?

Timmy Pig:  Yes please, I want to build a strong straw house. (the man gives him some straw) Thank you.

Narrator 2: Sam meets a man

Man: Hello little pig do you want some sticks?

Tommy Pig Yes please, I want to build a strong stick house. (the man gives him some sticks) Thank you.

Narrator 2: Jack meets a man

Salesman: Hello little pig do you want some bricks?

Jack Pig:  Yes please, I want to build a strong brick house. (the man gives him some sticks) Thank you.

Timmy pig: This is my new house (a straw house appears)

Sam pig: This is my new house (a stick house appears)

Jack pig: This is my new house (a brick house appears)


Timmy’s house

Narrator 3: Oh no…here comes Mr Wolf

Wolf: I’m hungry, I’m very very hungry grrrhhhh ! I smell pigs , yummy yummy . Little pig , little pig, let me come in

Timmy pig: No you can’t come in Mr Wolf! Go away go away !

Wolf: Then i’ll Huff, puff, huff, puff ,huff, puff and blow your house in!

(Timmy pig runs away)


Sam’s house

Narrator 3 The wolf comes to the stick house

Wolf: I’m hungry, I’m very very hungry grrrhhhh ! I smell pigs , yummy yummy . Little pigs, little pig, let me come in

Timmy pig and Sam pig No, no, no you can’t come in Mr Wolf! Go away go away !

Wolf: Then i’ll Huff, puff, huff, puff ,huff, puff and blow your house in!

(Timmy and Sam run away)


Jack’s house

Narrator 3 The wolf comes to the brick house

Wolf: I’m hungry, I’m very very hungry grrrhhhh ! I smell pigs, yummy yummy.  Little pigs, little pig, let me come in

Timmy pig and Sam pig and Jack Pig : No, no, no you can’t come in Mr Wolf! Go away go away!

Wolf: Then i’ll Huff, puff, huff, puff ,huff, puff and blow your house in! (repeat 3 times) Ahhhh, I’m very tired!

Narrator 4 : The pigs put a big pot of boiling water on the stove

Timmy pig and Sam pig and Jack Pig:   Mr Wolf, we are ready now! 

Narrator 4: The wolf slides down the chimney and falls into the big pot of boiling water

Narrator 4 Timmy, Sam and Jack live together in Harry’s house and are very happy.



How to Make a Shadow Puppet Theatre


View Make a simple shadow puppet theatre

Today I have been preparing my first ever “Shadow Puppet Play” which I will perform with my class of pre-schoolers.

Shadow puppetry is a form of puppetry, in which you move puppets, cut out of paper, between a light source and a screen. The audience on the other side of the screen only sees the shadows. It is great for storytelling, a lot of fun to prepare and children love it. You can make it as ambitious as you like with moving body parts and different props and scenes.

Having very little previous experience with shadow puppets I decided to keep it simple, play safe and chose a well known fairy tale ”Little Red Riding Hood”. I am no great artist and I rely heavily on stencils from the internet for masks, paper puppets, flashcards etc. Today I came across a great website www.hvanrossum.com which really helped me out for stencils and how to stage a puppet play for young children. “Heleen Van Rossum“ will give you step by step advice on how to approach your first performance.

I recently purchased a cardboard puppet theatre from IKEA for about $7 which is simple to assemble and  practical for transporting around as it folds flat. In the photos you can see I simply attached,with masking tape, a piece of paper table cloth or baking paper (just as Heleen van Rossum suggests) and I’m happy to go.

Start out by narrating the story slowly animating your voice and using the puppets. (I suggest to practice a few times at home in front of a mirror).You can stop during or at the end of each scene and ask the children what they understand. Don’t let the play last for more than 7 mins (keep it short and sweet to maintain the children’s full attention)

Now invite the children to come “behind the scenes” and become the puppeteers themselves as you retell the story. To finish, prepare a simple shadow puppet character template for each child to cut out and make their own.

Happy teaching





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



The Teddy Bear Song

The Teddy Bear Song

Here is lovely chant that works well with very young children. Ask the children to bring to class their own teddy bear or cuddly toy to do the song with ( have a few extras in case some children forget)  

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Turn around (turn around)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Touch the ground (touch the ground)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

Tie your shoe (hit your shoe)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

How old are you?

1-2-3-4 ………


Song and Role-play for “The Wheels on the Bus”

Song and Role-play for

“The Wheels on the Bus”


My 4-5 year old class loves doing the following song and role-play activity . It’s physical, lively and engaging. Try it!


I got the following song and activity from super simple songs


Language focus: Round and round, open and shut, beep beep, up and down, wheels, bus, door, wipers, horn, people, babies, mommies.

Classroom benefits: The Wheels on the Bus introduces a lot of very useful vocabulary for young learners while allowing them to get up, move around the classroom, and engage their imaginations.

Preparation: Before singing the song, introduce a toy bus or a picture of a bus or a bus-themed picture book. Point out the wheels, the door, the wipers, etc. Now, seated in a circle, you are ready to introduce the song.

Lyrics and actions:

(Everybody stands in big circle. You may want to give all of the students some props to act as steering wheels. Tambourines work great! Honk the horn!)

(Everyone stops and faces into the circle.)

The wheels on the bus go round and round. (Move your hands and arms round and round in a circle.)

Round and round. Round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round. Round and round. (Go! Between each verse, everyone pretends to drive a bus and honk the horn.)

The door on the bus goes open and shut. (Clap your hands together on “shut” and open them on “open”.)

Open and shut. Open and shut.

The door on the bus goes open and shut. Open and shut.


The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. (Mimic the motion of windshield wipers with your hands and arms.)

Swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish.

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish.


The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep. (Pretend to be honking the horn on the steering wheel of a bus.)

Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.


The people on the bus go up and down. (Stretch up and then squat down.) Up and down. Up and down.

The people on the bus go up and down. Up and down.


The babies on the bus go wah wah wah. (Place your hands next to your eyes and pretend to cry.)

Wah, wah, wah. Wah, wah, wah.

The babies on the bus go wah wah wah. Wah, wah, wah.


The mommies on the bus go shhh shhh shhh. (Place your finger in front of your mouth as you make the shhh sounds. You can also pretend to cradle a baby in one arm).

Shhh shhh shhh. Shhh shhh shhh.

The mommies on the bus go shhh shhh shhh. Shhh shhh shhh.



After the song is great time to “play bus”. Set up rows of chairs like the inside of a bus. Make a bus stop by putting some tape or rope down on the ground. Give each of the children several “coins” (colored chips work great, marbles will do… or use real coins). Make a small box into the fare collection box.

The teacher or parent can put on a bus driver’s cap and use a tambourine as a steering wheel. “Open” the bus door and invite the children on. Ask, “Where are you going?” Elicit responses like “To the park/to the pool/to the zoo/to the library/etc. Say, “Two coins, please.” and help the children pay. After all the kids have boarded, start “driving.” Sing The Wheels on the Bus together. Turn left and turn right, having the kids lean with you as you turn. Call out the stops. “Next stop…the park!” “Next stop…the zoo!”

Kids LOVE this role-play. Let them take turns being the driver too!


Using Esl Drama with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

Using Esl Drama with

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar“



Young children love this story , it’s ideal for revising food and numbers and introducing days of the week. Why not add a simple creative improvisation to make it even more fun and memorable for children.


Here are a few suggestions on how to introduce the story:


1.     Tell the simple story using the book, get the children actively involved – show them the pictures bring to class some “real” fruit, elicit and count the fruit and food together. Ask them what they understand from the story in their native language.


2.     You could use this beautiful and very well made video that I came across on the web  to introduce the story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qoYPLtqqVk


3.      For those more adventurous and creative you could make and use a simple sock puppet to tell the story  (I’ve used the following user-friendly site in the past to make great sock puppets http://www.daniellesplace.com/HTML/puppets.html ).

4.  For simple paper puppets the following blog has some interesting ideas http://babybilingual.blogspot.com/2007/04/very-hungry-caterpillar-very-hungry.html





1.      Tell the children that they are now going to re-tell the story of the “Hungry Caterpillar” themselves – and that they are going to “act” being the caterpillar.


2.      Make some space in the room free of tables and chairs.


3.       Put on some soft/slow instrumental music


4.      Ask the children to lay down on the floor and pretend to be a little egg laying on a leaf under the moon. Use the book to show the children the illustrations so they know where you are at in the story.


5.      Coax  the children to act and push themselves out of the egg and become a little tiny caterpillar. Ask the children how they think a caterpillar moves and get them to show you physically .  Ask how many legs and feet they think a caterpillar has. What does his face look like? Remember- he’s very hungry! Start to really wriggle and crawl like hungry caterpillar looking for something to eat.


6.     Get the children to imagine and mime how the caterpillar eats and crawls into an apple…munching away until he pops out the other side. Still hungry! Try not to let the children talk.. they should remain concentrated and really imagine that they are the hungry caterpillar.


7.      You don’t have to do go through all the fruits as it can get a bit long..but you could get the children to mime eating different foods like a “piece of cake” or “an ice- cream”. See how sticky and mucky their faces get!


8.      Get the children to mime “feeling ill” after the caterpillar eats too much.


9.     “The following day the caterpillar becomes big and fat”.. get the children to mime being very heavy and moving slowly.


10. For the caterpillar’s  “cocoon” use a large blanket and get all the children to crawl under and hide together. (kids find this part great fun)


11. Tell them to slowly come out from the blanket transformed into a beautiful butterfly. Get the children to flitter and fly around the room as beautiful brightly colored butterflies.