Literature Studies: Chaucer – A Play of the Nun’s Priest’s Tale


We only do Chaucer studies once a week on a Tuesday, or at least that is the plan.  I have, as always, over estimated what we can fit in, so the children aren’t getting much time to do each activity.  Sometimes that is good.  The last activity felt pressurised and therefore less enjoyable.  This activity was just plain fun, and whilst the children didn’t have enough time to completely do it justice, it was done on their own, with absolutely no input from me at all.  The best thing about this is that it means the children worked really well together as a team, each bringing to the table their strengths.

The assignment was to rewrite the Nun’s Priest’s Tale as a play, make up puppets from anything we had lying around the house and put on a play for their Granny and parents.  I gave them this on Tuesday and they had until Friday lunch time when we had arranged for my mum to pop in to watch.  The only school time I gave them was on the Tuesday, but they really got into this project, especially since they have had no computer time during the day, and they happily used their spare time to complete it.

The purpose for this assignment was two-fold.  I wanted to do an activity linked to the Nun’s Priest’s Tale, because this encourages an understanding of both the story and the way it was written.  The second reason was to test the enthusiasm the children had for putting on puppet shows.  I didn’t want to spend any money on puppetry supplies until I knew they would utilise them fully.  As part of their Shakespeare studies I thought a puppet play might work out well, but only if their enthusiasm and interest drove them.  They really did all enjoy the whole process and we will definitely be exploring puppetry further.

C11, who loves to write, wrote a very clear version of the Nun’s Tale.  She decided it would be a narrated play, whereby she would narrate the story whilst the puppets acted it out.  This was a sensible choice due to the time restraints:


T12 was in charge of sound, back ground scenery, curtain calls and the like.  He really didn’t have long and with only resources he could find around the house, he also kept it simple by using their presentation card and painting sheets of paper to stick on them:


L11, our resident artist, drew and cut out three or four simple shapes from foam and stuck them onto pipe cleaners to create some simple, easy to move puppets:



I was impressed at how simple they all kept things.  This could have got out of hand with them planning big stuff but failing to produce anything in time.  By choosing simplicity they were able to complete the assignment in the given time and put on a very good show for my mum and their dad.  The younger ones were also able to get in on the fun and play with everything without worrying about breaking anything:


The play begins with C11 narrating:


Whilst L and T tell the story through the changeable scenery and puppets:

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It ended with them all taking a bow to the applause of their adoring audience!


Much fun, learning and creativity occurred this week.  Role on Shakespeare!!

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  1. Good stuff! I love how the children work together to deliver the play, given the time constraints. The puppets and changing scenes look fantastic. Well done to them! 🙂

  2. Wow! That was a lot of work in a short time. It is so wonderful how they work together. The puppets look fantastic. Bravo to the children!

    1. It wasn’t as in depth as our usual studies but I am wanting to do so much with Chaucer but couldn’t decide what to drop so I am trying to squeeze everything in!

  3. Great project. I love how the children work so well together. They really did learn how to meet a deadline too and make decisions on the type of end result they could complete. That is a huge thing to learn!

    1. Thank you Christy. That was probably what I was most impressed by – the fact that they had finished the task on time and in time for my mum to come and watch it (we had prearranged a time with her).

    1. I think we will look into puppetry in a bit more depth next year, in particular how to make handmade larger sized hand puppets. Ooooh, it’s like having a second childhood!

  4. Oh we love Chaucer:) My eldest read Canterbury Tales last year and found it incredibly enjoyable. Do you look at the origional text with the children? We used a book which retold the tales in modern day English but also had a quick look at the origional English version. I was surprised by how easily he was able to translate the origional text. You have inspired me to build in a study of Chaucer next year ( I’m in the process of pulling it all together this week).
    I adore the play – I need more children so that we can do similar activities:)

    Wonderful and inspirational – thank you.

  5. I am in awe! It amazes me how you get your children exited about assignments, how they cooperate and work together, and have fun at the same time! You are obviously doing a great job of being a mom and homeschooler!

    1. Thank you Sylvia! I think I am quite a unique situation in that I have three very similar aged children which of course helps greatly with the team work and building enthusiasm.

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