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

Peter, my new bilingual teaching assistant….what a squawker!!


Get children actively involved in English lessons using a little English friend. A great teaching assistant!

Greeting “Peter” and introducing him to your class:

  • Hello Peter!
  • Good morning Peter!
  • Peter, where are you?
  • Peter ? there you are!
  • How are you today?
  • (Ask the children to say hello)

Ask “Peter the Toucan” some general questions:

  • What’s this?
  • What’s that?
  • What’s your favourite food?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • Where’s your pen?
  • Where’s your red bag?
  • Which do you prefer – the red or the green?
  • Which do you want?
  • Why are you happy/sad/tired/angry?

Tips on preparing your first ESL Drama lesson

 Tips on preparing your first ESL Drama lesson

miranda teaching

Your objective

Be clear what you want the children to learn during the lesson. For example colors,  body vocabulary, prepositions,  group cooperation, trust etc.

Choose appropriate games

Play drama games that reflect your lesson’s objectives. Children learn more by  being actively involved and by absorbing ideas and concepts directly so hands-on activities are perfect.

Try and free the children from any traditional classroom restraints (even if it’s for a short time!) and get them up moving, jumping, dancing, exploring the space around them, using their bodies and voices in strange and different ways. Sing songs, and play drama games and you will find it encourages them to get over any initial shyness or embarrassment when speaking in English

Speak loudly , clearly and briefly!

I believe a warm and enthusiastic voice is imperative. You really need to be able to introduce the game and it’s rules quickly with no fuss so that all the children can understand and feel encouraged to join in. Avoid talking for long periods of time as the energy level drops lower and lower and is difficult then to recuperate.

When introducing a new game keep the energy moving, SMILE and use mime and gestures or visual aids like puppets and flashcards to initially captivate the children’s attention.  If you see a child’s attention wondering try jumping up and using more active body language .

Try avoid using a monotone voice by changing your rhythm and pitch and always maintain direct eye contact with all of the children (and not just one or two). If you find that the rules of a certain game are complicated and the children haven’t understood  it ‘s quicker to repeat the rules in their native language  so they can get on with the game itself.


Trial runs  of games are a great way to ensure that everyone has understood the rules. Great results come from children who feel considered and not just part of a big group so try and interact with children individually even if it’s a comment or two at the beginning or end of each lesson. Finally remember children need lots of stimulation all the time.

Game playing

Be present and guide the children during each game to keep it on track. If you see the game going flat or not going according to plan , jump in and make some suggestions or change tactic or if the game really cannot be saved change it altogether – Quickly before energy levels drop! Remember to remain positive with your voice and never let the children see that you are disappointed with the outcome it could block their spontaneity with future games. Praise the children a lot as it builds their self esteem and encourages them to try again.


Note: in Drama there are no wrong answers!

Review and repeat games and songs

New language is never learnt (and remembered) in just one lesson so reviewing new concepts is imperative . Songs are great for reviewing  and you will find that children will love to repeat their favorite games again and again.

Happy teaching!