A Story for Preschool ELLs

Free ESL Story and Activities - Part Two


    Here now is the story Hetty and the Lion along with the colour illustrations, and some tips to use during the story telling itself..

    Pictures are used with kind permission from Valentina, using this story and these ideas at douafetecucuiete in Romania.

    If you are happy to have this free story would be kind enough to "like" it and share with your buddies ?


    Link to the Colour Illustrations for the ELL Story

    Tell your friends with young children and teaching colleagues about this excellent free ESL stuff!  

    Firstly before you begin make sure your children are familiar with the key vocabulary as outlined in your first email. 

    Pre-Teach the word Lion

    You need to introduce the word lion to the children before you read the story as that word is not taught in the lesson plan provided in the first email.

    To do this, show the children the lion flashcard and repeat the word to them a few times and have them say it back to you.  Next ask the children to move around the room as if they were lions with sound effects.  You can tell them to be a lion but whenever you clap they must freeze.  Make them free for 10 seconds and say, be a lion.  Next time make them freeze for only 8 seconds, then 6, then 4, then 2, then 1 second and that will make them quite excited and enjoy being a lion a little more.

    Then you can sit the children in a semi-circle, show the first picture of the story and start to tell it.

    Story-Telling Tips


    • Have the children seated in front of you on the floor where they can all see the pictures.  The pictures are key to understanding so it is vital that the children can see them easily.

    • Show the first picture and you can ask the children what they see, asking them to name the animal or objects.  It is OK if the children use their own language to reply, but as you will have pre-taught the key vocabulary, see if you can also elicit the words in English.

    • Start the story, using as much vocal and facial expression as possible, and acting out the story with gestures wherever you can.

    • Use dramatic voices to fit the personality of your characters.  Practise beforehand with high and squeaky, low and gruff and any variation in between.  As well as the pitch you can make the voice loud or soft, slow or fast, breathlessness, sound sad or happy.

    • Use gestures.  Hang your head in sadness or look worried and tearful, or happy as appropriate depending on the event in the story.  Get the children to imitate the character in the story and look happy or sad.

    • Add in animal noises, or a little song or rhyme that you might make up.  For example in the marching ants story you could do some sound effects of the marching ants and have the children join in with you.  Sound effects can be vocal or with instruments or improvised instruments such as clapping or tapping body parts of items.

    • Ask some simple questions such as, "Where is the giraffe?" or "Is the bird hungry?" depending on whatever is relevant to the story. 

    • Ask the children to guess what will happen next, and they can do this in their native language.  The guessing game helps draw them in to be more curious about the story.

    • If the children are engaged then continue to elicit vocabulary, and the guessing game with each picture.  However you may also want sometimes just to read the story and only stop to ask a few questions here and there so that the process does not drag on too long.  You can decide that each time depending on the feeling you have in the classroom.  Certainly reading the story should be enjoyable and you do not want to make a meal of it and spoil the fun by eliciting vocabulary the whole time.

    • It is not necessary to insist the children sit tight; as long as they are quiet they will be hearing the words regardless.  However if there is global restlessness then you are probably making too much of a meal eliciting vocabulary and dragging the story out, so you can tell it quicker and move on to an activity involving movement as a change from the quiet sitting period.


    Link to the Colour Illustrations for the ELL Story


    Hetty and the Lion Download


    Now you have everything you need to tell this story: games and ideas to pre-teach all the target vocabulary, flashcards to do that, the story itself, tips for story telling, and the colour illustrations.  

    In the next email I will give you ideas you can use after story telling to give you opportunities to review the language and vocabulary in fun ways.  Of course the children will be happy to hear the story many times over.

    'Just wanted to let you know that yesterday was my first day teaching English in the Kindergarten. I had two groups each for an hour and we ROCKED! 
    We all had so much funwith the Hetty and the Lion story, running around and laughing; we were all sweaty and happy after the class!

    Couldn't have done it with out all your great advice and wonderful story. Thanks so much.'     Molly Sommer, Germany

    Do let me know how you get along with the materials and I shall email you again soon with more ideas to use after story telling, and particularly with more speaking ideas.

    Kind regards

    Yours sincerely


    Shelley Ann Vernon

    Teaching English Games

    P.S. Make the most of the Special Price


    1. 96 colour illustrations over ten stories

    2. Black and white sketches for colouring

    3. Dozens of colour flashcards to pre-teach vocabulary used in the stories

    4. Over one hundred ideas for games and activities to use in lessons

    5. Quiet games, games with movement, games with music, finger plays and rhymes

    6. PLUS 16 different bingo sets of the vocabulary used in the stories!
      A complete teaching kit or games and stories for your preschool English language learners