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

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 object game

Many traditional drama games for adults can be easily adapted for teaching children English. The following game is great fun and all my students adore it! It encourages team work, self expression, independence, and quick thinking. Suitable from ages 5 upwards.

Call out the name of an object and the group as a whole or split into smaller groups of 4-5 have to make the shape of that object out of their own bodies, joining together in different ways while you count down slowly from ten to zero. Usually the group will find a different way of forming the object. Examples could be: numbers, letters, a car, a number, a letter, a clock, a washing machine, a fire, a happy machine, a sausage machine. Encourage the children to make a sound to accompany their machine or object. One of my children’s favourites is a birthday cake. Some children act as candles we sing Happy Birthday and I blow out the giant “body” candles and the children fall to the ground. Great fun and makes the language memorable.




Tips on Stage Make-up



Face Painting adds great excitement and novelty to any Drama class.  With stage make-up, children finally feel like professional actors!

If you are far from being a professional face painter, like myself, I suggest you use very simple creations to maximum effect!! You also should consider “time”, as any  group of children will find it difficult to wait patiently and quietly while you create individual masterpieces for each child’s face!

So I personally suggest that you always keep it:

1.     QUICK and SIMPLE

2.       Make your life easier by investing in a stage make- up pallet and paintbrush, base pancake and sponges. The paints are water based, very allergy friendly and easy to wipe off after. You can also make animal whiskers and moustaches, and rosy cheeks precisely and in seconds.


1.       If you have a large class and want to make-up everyone before a show ..try and get the children to arrive early and straight into costume. As soon as one child is ready start making up. So you don’t have a line of impatient children waiting.

2.       Also, prepare beforehand what kind of faces you are going to do and for whom so you don’t waste valuable time thinking when you have the children in front of you!

3.       Avoid eyes, children don’t like make-up too close to their eyes as they get irritated and start to water.

4.       Remind the children not to touch their faces until the paint is dry, you don’t want 20 smudged faces before the curtain even goes up!

5.      Get  inspiration and ideas for face painting on the internet or try  some books here are some from Amazon you could check out. I really like all Usborne books for children and find them really user friendly.

 Here is an interesting video I found on you tube that could get you motivated in doing something more sophisticated.


The magic chair

The magic chair



1.            Put a chair in the centre of a circle of children. 

2.          Tell the children that it is hot, sticky, covered with paint or glue, cold, soft, has a pin on it, is broken, very comfortable etc. 

3.          Any child who wants to gets up and sits on the chair. They act out the situation. Eg. If it is hot they sit down and jump up screaming “Ow!”.