Books as starting-points

Teachers who’ve been to my workshops know how much I like improvisation and student-devised stories. But it really helps to have a story everyone knows as the backbone for staging a show. I really like using Rosie’s Walk with young learners (see link below). It works really well if you’re preparing students for Trinity Stars or any end-of-course show. (In case you don’t know the story, there’s a link to an animated version of the book below.)

At first glance, it seems quite a simple tale, but the more you read it, the more ways you’ll find to exploit it in an EFL class for young learners.  The plot is very simple. Rosie the hen goes for a walk around the farm and is totally oblivious to the danger (a fox) as she goes, and also to the chaos she leaves behind her.        

Ideas on using Rosie’s Walk with young learners

This is based on the book Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins.         

In addition to animal vocab, this story introduces prepositions of movement: across the yard, around the pond, over the haystack, past the mill, through the fence and under the beehives, all of which can be mimed as the story is told (no need to teach them).                

First read and/or watch Rosie’s Walk, so that the children understand the story.  Keep their interest in the story by asking them to predict what’s going to happen next. Then tell them that they’re going to role-play the story (maybe not all on the same day!).  

Think about how to set the scene, as there are many shows that can be set on a farm. Make a big poster of a farm as a class project, or just use the whiteboard or a wall and blu-tack pics onto it as a storytelling backdrop.  This creates a good storytelling atmosphere (and is perfect as a backdrop for the shows later).

Making the puppets

We use balloon puppets of Rosie and the fox, with faces blu-tacked on; you can easily print these out from Google images.  Use a pencil as a holder, and for the feet use polystyrene cups or balls.

The bees are simply cut-outs taped onto straws.  And for the mice and frogs you can make envelope puppets.

Give the children their roles, using puppets, masks and/or costumes.  (If you have a large group, you can always have more than one of each character.)  Some children are the animal characters (hen, fox, frogs, mice, goat, bees), and others do a TPR (Total Physical Response) version; they act as the henhouse, haystack, mill, fence, beehives.

Now re-read the book, this time with the children acting out the story.  Don’t be afraid to add to or cut from stories.  Add some simple dialogue, and don’t underestimate the importance of repetition; Rosie greets all the animals she meets on her walk (‘Hello goat!’ ‘Hello Rosie!’) and the fox always says ‘Yummy yummy yummy, chicken in my tummy!’ every time he thinks he’s going to catch her.

Once you’ve done all that work making your backdrop and all your puppets, look for more farmyard stories to dramatise!

The animated version of the story on YouTube v=UcsTDSB_pyk&

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

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