'MONKEY PUZZLE' LESSON PLAN

From book to performance!

Here’s our ‘Monkey Puzzle’ lesson plan, based on the book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler, published by Macmillan Children’s Books 2000. 

As you’ll already have guessed from the monkey puppets Charlie and Manu, we love monkeys!  But this book can tie in well with pretty much any wild animal puppet you may have!

It’s really more than a single lesson plan, as we’ll go all the way from warmers and activities to simplifying the script ready for a class show.

So what’s the book about?

Can butterfly help little monkey find his mum?  Yes, finally, but only after a lot of trial and error as butterfly misunderstands monkey’s descriptions and leads him to all sorts of unsuitable animals. 

Chris storytelling with 'Monkey Puzzle'

Why do we like it?

Well, apart from the story itself, which young learners love, it has fantastic visuals.  It’s also available in large format, which is perfect for class storytelling (see link below).

Furthermore, it’s easily adaptable for different age-groups – for younger learners you’ll need to simplify the story and make sure to include lots of repetition (eg. ‘Come, little monkey, come, come, come’ and ‘No, no, NO!  That’s not my mum!’ every time the butterfly makes a mistake), accompanied by gestures (waving ‘no!’ fingers, hands on hips, etc).  Older children really enjoy doing the rhymes (you can always simplify them too).

Linguistic areas

Linguistic areas include animal names and colours, animal body-parts, adjectives, comparatives, have got, present simple for routines … There are also excellent opportunities for CLIL-type classroom activities: animals and their young (caterpillars turning into butterflies), animal classification (mammals, reptiles etc), natural habitats, eating habits (carnivore, omnivore etc), some or all of which could be incorporated into the performance.We hope the following will give you some ideas on how to start dramatising the story.  There are links to some useful websites (although these change frequently, so some may not still be valid).

 

First, get to know the story!  

If you haven’t got the book yet, or as a follow-up to your storytelling, watch these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmvWf0gCAT4   (US version: Where’s my Mom?}

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIn8sjN1pgw    (Musical version)

Monkey Puzzle storytelling at Valencia Book Fair and in Kamalavathi School, Tuticorin, India

MONKEY PUZZLE LESSON PLAN: Getting Ready

Flashcards

Enlarge, print & laminate pictures of the characters from the story.  You can use these first as flashcards, then stick them on the backdrop or around the classroom for use in the song later. Use other jungle animals too – don’t just limit yourself to the book.  And remember to exploit your materials for other things too – not just for the Monkey Puzzle lesson plan.

Finger-puppets

After first reading the book with the class, get the children to make and/or colour in finger-puppets and start dramatising the story on the next reading.  Distribute the characters for the children to use as each animal makes its appearance (in a large class you’ll obviously have several of each) and they start joining in more.

You can adapt these templates to include all the characters in the story:

http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/printable-animal-finger-puppets/

https://mrprintables.com/snake-finger-puppets/

http://www.kidspot.com.au/omofunzone/create-jungle-finger-puppet-template+5375+568+sponsor-article.htm

http://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/88628

We also use little knitted finger-puppets from Peru – look out for them at craft markets.  See Using Finger Puppets in the EFL Classroom for more ideas.

Mask templates

Once the children are familiar with the story and have acted it out with their finger puppets (first as a class, then in small groups), get the masks ready for the show.  Half-masks are best.  Paper plates are great starting points, but don’t use whole-face masks, as you can’t hear what the children are saying – cut away the lower part, or cut a hole for the mouth as well as the eyes.

Again, you can adapt these templates to include all the characters in the story.  If you have a large group, include more animals – remember, the book is only a starting-point.

http://zoomenglish.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/eso1-carnival-time-animal-masks.html

http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Animals/paperplateanimals/paperplateanimals.html

Young learners in animal masks

SONGS:  WALKING THROUGH THE JUNGLE 

We use this song both to prepare in class for the animal roles and then to sing as the grand finale just before the little monkey finds his mum (the last animal they spy is obviously Mummy Monkey!).  

Make binoculars out of toilet rolls and go round spying all the animals on the jungle backdrop/walls or wearing the masks, with the children taking it in turns to be spied – doing the animal noises and actions, of course!

This is a more involved variation, downloadable from YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plvY0quSyJg  (basic song)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhZjNXEJe9Y  (song with big lyrics, karaoke-style)

There’s also a storybook by Julie Lacome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b6yOw5ds-I  (Storytelling)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o39rNZ5Bqxs  (Plasticine Animation)

There are many other animal songs, plus fingerplays and jazz chants that could easily be incorporated into the story at various points – just google them!  For example:

http://musicmakersforkids.blogspot.com.es/2008/12/animals-fingerplays.html

Monkey Puzzle children's performance, all wearing animal masks
Baby Monkey finds his mum!

And finally, the ‘MONKEY PUZZLE’ SHOW!

I found this worked really well with my little group.  Obviously, if you have a larger class, include more animal characters and/or double up the roles.

And always remember that it’s important to have a good clear start to any performance – an intro, maybe a narrator or someone holding a title poster, etc – and a good clear finish, so that your audience know when to burst into rapturous applause, give a standing ovation, ask for autographs …!  

 

MONKEY PUZZLE CHARACTERS

BABY MONKEY, BUTTERFLY, ELEPHANT, SNAKE, SPIDER, PARROT, FROG, BAT, BUTTERFLY BABIES, DADDY MONKEY, MUMMY MONKEY

 

MONKEY PUZZLE SIMPLIFIED SCRIPT

 

BABY MONKEY: I’ve lost my mum!

ENTER BUTTERFLY

BUTTERFLY: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She’s big! Bigger than me!

BUTTERFLY: Bigger than you?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER ELEPHANT

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s an elephant!

ELEPHANT: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She’s got a long tail!

ELEPHANT: She’s got a long tail? Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER SNAKE

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s a snake!

SNAKE: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She’s got legs!

SNAKE: She’s got legs?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER SPIDER

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s a spider!

SPIDER: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She lives in the trees!

SPIDER: She lives in the trees?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER PARROT

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s a parrot!

PARROT: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She can jump!

PARROT: She can jump?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER FROG

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s a frog!

FROG: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She’s brown and furry!

FROG: She’s brown and furry?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER BAT

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s not my mum! That’s a bat!

BAT: Hush, little monkey, don’t you cry! I’ll help you find her! What’s she like?

BABY MONKEY: She’s not so little!

BAT: She’s not so little?
Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER ELEPHANT

BABY MONKEY: No, no, no, no, NO! That’s the elephant again! Butterfly, butterfly, don’t you see? None of these animals look like me!

BUTTERFLY: She looks like you?
But don’t you see?
None of my babies look like me!

ENTER BABY CATERLILLARS

BABY CATERPILLARS: MUMMY, I’M HUNGRY! etc

BUTTERFLY: So she looks like you?  Then I’ve seen your mum!
Come, little monkey, come, come, come!

ENTER DADDY MONKEY

BABY MONKEY: No, no, NO! That’s my DAD!

DAD: Come, little monkey, come, come, come! It’s time I took you home to MUM!

ENTER MUMMY MONKEY

BABY MONKEY: MUM! etc

 

FIN!

‘Monkey Puzzle’ by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler.

It’s also available in large format, which is perfect for class storytelling:

https://amzn.to/2UrgZ2y

These are affiliate Amazon links. If you buy through our site, you’ll pay the same price and we’ll get a micro-commission. This would go towards site maintenance.  Thanks in advance!

2 Responses

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a message Joyce. Let us know how you got on or any more ideas you’ve got. We’re going to be updating the website soon, so come back for more ideas.

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