The Enormous Turnip Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about The Enormous Turnip with this lesson plan. They will draw pictures of enormous turnips and create their very own stories and songs.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe the plot and theme of the folk tale, The Enormous Turnip
  • Explain the ultimate moral of the story
  • Name the author of the work


1 - 1.5 Hours


  • Colored markers
  • Image of a turnip
  • Internet access
  • Poster board, one large sheet per student

Key Characters

  • Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
  • Babka (grandmother)
  • Dedka (grandfather)
  • Koshka (cat)
  • Myshka (mouse)
  • Repka (turnip)
  • The Gigantic Turnip
  • Vnuchca (granddaughter)
  • Zhuchka (dog)

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges, or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.


Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Instructions and Activities

  • Explain to your students they will be learning about the Russian folk tale The Enormous Turnip.
  • Display the image of the turnip.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with the story.
  • Review the key characters.

Activity One

  • Inform your students they are going to be drawing their very own pictures of enormous turnips.
  • Divide up your students into pairs.
  • Pass out colored markers and large sheets of poster board, one per student.
  • Tell your students the following information:

a) You can use the photo I showed you, or you can go onto the Internet and find a suitable photo of a turnip.

b) There are three main parts to a turnip, which are the main body, the green leafy top, and the root on the bottom.

c) Also note the difference in coloring between the top and bottom of the turnip as well as the transition in between the top and the bottom.


  • Have your students take a short break from their drawings and ask them the following questions:

1) When was the original version of The Enormous Turnip written? (1910)

2) Who was the author? (Alexsey Nikolayevich Tolstoy)

3) Who are two other Russian authors with the last name Tolstoy? (Leo Tolstoy and Alexsey Konstantinovich Tolstoy)

4) In what collection was the story published? (Russian Fairy Tales)

5) What is interesting about all of the names of the characters in Russian? (they all rhyme)

6) What is another name for the tale that is sometimes used instead? (The Gigantic Turnip)

7) How many versions of the story are there? (many, in lots of languages including English)

8) How are turnips grown? (they are root vegetables similar to carrots)

  • Now, have your students return to their drawings and complete them.
  • Finally, have the students share their drawings with the entire class.

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