A Story for Preschool ELLs

preschool ELLs playing with puppets

Hetty and the Lion Story

Welcome back teachers and parents,

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

Hetty and the Lion Story Pictures

Hetty and the Lion Story Text

Before you begin make sure your children are familiar with the key vocabulary as outlined in this blog, a lesson plan for English Language learners, (ELLs), to prepare for this story.

Pre-teach "Lion"

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.

Since you have already taught all the fruits in the lesson plan, you are now ready to tell the story.

Pictures of preschool ELLs using Hetty and the Lion are used with kind permission from Valentina, at Douafetecucuiete in Romania.

Young ELLs playing with lion puppet

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 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.

Engage with questions

–  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.

Keep things moving

–  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.

Great results and fun learning

I 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 fun with 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

Keep me posted

Do let me know how you get along with the materials.

All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon

P.S. Make the most of the great price for my story package with everything you need to give great lessons to your Preschool ELLs (English language learners!)

  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!

1 thought on “A Story for Preschool ELLs”

  1. The advice is really helpful,about the way you should interpret the story.I’m convinced that the children will learn and hale fun în the same time.

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