Generic filters
Exact matches only

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly – 3 and 4 year olds

We had a fun lesson today with my group of six 3 year olds and two 4 year olds, based on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. The lesson included songs, flashcard games, storytelling, puzzles and a jigsaw colouring craft.


old lady who swallowed a fly matching cards 1
Matching cards

(from There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly Activity Pack

These are cards that make an image from 2 parts. I arrange half the cards containing half an image face-down on a table and I hold the cards with the matching halves in my hand.

We usually start class with me greeting the children at the door. I offer them a card and ask them what it is, or simply make a comment based on the image, e.g, “Oh, it’s an orange cat! Can you find the orange cat?” The child then goes to the table and turns over cards to find the matching half.

old lady who swallowed a fly matching cards

This continues until all the children are in the room, gathered around the table. We finish matching up the cards then play a quick game of ‘Listen and point’. The kids point up and we chant, “I can see…(a cat)” and point to the different images in turn. Finally, I ask for the different images and the children, listen and give them to me, one by one.

I find this is a nice way to spark curiosity and interest at the beginning of a lesson. It’s also great for transitioning into being a member of a group and is great for revising or introducing target language.

Active songs

We started with a hello song and a song to learn emotion language.

SEE our galleries of classroom management songs and emotions songs for more options.


Active colours practice

“I can see…”

We went on a treasure hunt for colours around the classroom to revise colours.

We did an action chant:

I (point to self) can (clap hands) see (point to eyes) x3

Then I said a colour for them to find. We did this a few times and the kids were keen to shout out the names of the colours as they found them. Once they had the hang of it, I nominated different children to tell us the colour to look for.

Settled songs

After moving around a lot, it was time to settle into a circle. I don’t use video at this stage because I want the kids to focus on each other and me. I’m also able to adapt the song lyrics to suit the language I want to practise.

Make a circle – we added in ‘dance’ and ‘jump’ verses.

One from the left – we counted the fingers at the end of each verse before hiding them behind our backs with a dramatic ‘whoosh’!

Find more classroom management / transitions songs here.

Find more fingerplays here and more settled songs here.

Flashcard games

Still sitting in a circle, we went on to introduce and practise key language in the story.

First we did Mystery Flashcards and then played Teacher STOP!


Old lady flashcards - There was an old lady who swallowed a fly Activity Pack
Mystery Flashcards

All the flashcards were in a bag. We chanted:

What is it? What is it? What is it?

I invited one child to pull a card out of the bag.

Ooh! It’s a dog! It’s a purple dog.

The child placed the flashcard face-up in the circle.

We continued like this until all the flashcards had been ‘discovered’.

As the activity continued, the children started joining in the chant and some were repeating the vocabulary too.


Teacher STOP!

1.After pointing to and repeating the phrases illustrated by the flashcards, I gathered up all the cards and started shuffling them.

2. I indicated to the children to say “STOP!” and I stopped shuffling the cards.

3. I placed the card that was facing me behind me. Well, I sat on it, actually! The children didn’t know which card it was and I tried to create as much suspense as possible with facial expressions and body language.

4. I then placed each card, one by one back in the centre of the circle so all the images were visible. Each time I placed a card, I said the phrase, e.g., It’s a blue fly.

5. After all the cards were on the floor, I pulled the one from behind me (so the kids still couldn’t see it) and asked “What is it?

6. The children had to guess and if they said the wrong item, I pointed it out on the floor, e.g.,  No, it isn’t. The cow is here. When they got it right, I revealed the flashcard: Yes! You’re right! It’s a red bird.

We repeated the game 4 times.

This game is great for including lots of exposure to new language in a fun way!

Story Time - There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

Next, it was time to read, or rather sing, the story.

I encouraged the children to predict each new animal the lady was going to swallow. This version of the book by Pam Adams has clues on each page too to help.

I also gestured to indicate ‘I don’t know why’, ‘swallow’, ‘catch’ and ‘die’.

The kids really enjoyed the colourful pictures and a few were able to use the English words to say what animal was coming next.



Jigsaw Craft

We went to our table and I showed them the jigsaw pieces. I gave each child 1 or 2 pieces then we completed the puzzle together. While doing this, I was repeating key language, e.g., Oh, look. It’s a dog. Who has the dog?; I can see a red bird. Who has a red bird?

Now that they had seen the completed puzzle, I gave them the template to colour. We did this by singing the song again and pausing at each stage to colour the animals.

We didn’t cut the jigsaw pieces in class. The children still need support with using scissors. I did, however, tell the parents after class that they could help cut the puzzle at home and use it to revise the song and language. I also sent them the link to the story page so that the children could listen at home too. 

old lady jigsaw_2

Closing and goodbye

Finally, we cleaned up the crayons along to a Clean Up song. I asked them about the colours of the different animals in their jigsaw, e.g., What colour is your dog?; Who has a blue bird?

We put our goodbye video on, while I helped them putting on coats etc. then we went out to meet the families and said goodbye till next week.

SEE our gallery of classroom management songs for more options.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly – 3 and 4 year olds

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.