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.



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



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.