The Tiger Child by Joanna Troughton

Troughton, J. (1996) The Tiger Child, published by Puffin. ISBN: 0140382380

This lively and funny folk tale from Orissa, India, explains why tigers eat their food uncooked and why cats live with people. The Tiger Child is sent to fetch some more fire from the village, but on the way he gets distracted by his friends. By the time he gets to the village, he has forgotten what he has been sent to fetch.

Joanna Troughton’s popular book is available from, and

Below are a range of drama and storytelling activities suitable for reception and key stage 1. Further explanations of some activities can be found by following the links. The session has been used with many children and is great fun! David Farmer often demonstrates it on the Primary Drama Across the Curriculum courses.

If you don’t know the story, you can watch this five-minute video showing an animated version.

And now for the drama lesson itself:

Remember to click the sub-titles if you want to find out more about any of the activities.

Ten Second Objects

Before reading the story, ask the children to make three objects such as a fish, a comb and a fire. This will give added interest as later on they will hear these objects mentioned in the story.

Soundscape/Sound Picture

The teacher acts as the conductor, whilst the students are the “orchestra”. Using their voices (and even body percussion!), the group is asked to paint a sound picture of the jungle where the Tiger Child lives. The teacher controls the shape of the piece by raising her hand to increase the volume or bringing it to touch her lap for silence.

  • One way to do this is to allow everybody to choose their own sound – discuss what types of sound might be appropriate before you start.
  • If it is a large group (or very lively) you can divide the participants into sections, giving a particular sound for each section, then conduct them accordingly.

Now – Tell the Story!

Tell or read the story to the children. Show them the beautiful pictures which accompany the text.


You are going to tell the story again, or extracts from it. As you retell the story, go round the circle and ask children to step into the middle to become objects or characters and to act out that part of the story.

Teacher in Role

The teacher can play the role of one of the characters in the story. Below are some suggestions for playing the Tiger.

The teacher explains that she will be playing another character – without saying who it is. She puts on an orange hat or scarf and says “I’m a bit sad because my fire has gone out and I can’t cook my food.” The children will realise which character is being portrayed. This can lead into a discussion (in role) with the children about food they like: “What food do you eat? Do you eat it raw? Do you like raw food?” The Tiger of course really prefers cooked food.

Then the Tiger can ask for advice about getting or making some fire – “How could I get fire from the villagers?” This might lead on to ideas about creeping into the village in disguise, rubbing sticks together, giving gifts to the villagers and so on.

Finally the Tiger thanks the children for their help and says goodbye, removing the token costume.

This can lead to writing or drawing recipes for the Tiger, or acting out ideas for getting fire from the villagers.

Offering Objects

Ask one child to sit in the centre of the circle to play the role of the Tiger Child. You can give them an orange scarf or hat to wear. Explain that the other children are the villagers who are going to try and help the Tiger Child. Use the repeated lines from the story (which the children are likely to remember by now):

Tiger Child: I have come for the thing my uncle wants but I can’t remember what it is.

Now ask the children if they can think of an object to bring to the Tiger Child. It can be from the story or something new. Choose a child to bring the first gift to the Tiger Child.

Villager: Is it a/an…

The Tiger Child should play with the mimed object (or maybe eat it!) before saying:

Tiger Child: No I don’t think it was that.

If the children are reticent the teacher can model how to be the Tiger Child at first. After the group activity, children will enjoy repeating the game in pairs, with one offering objects and the other trying them out. Make sure they both have a turn at playing the Tiger Child!

Lesson plan © David Farmer 2015