Aim & Outcomes


To challenge children to solve numerical problems in a story context so that they may further understand practical application


Throughout Bag of Beans children will:

  • Apply and develop numeracy skills through practical application within the context of the story
  • Consider storytelling devices and actively contribute to a re-interpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Work collectively to develop their speaking, listening skills as well as voice their own and challenge others opinions in the drama

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Programme Outline

The Teacher/Actor arrives in the class, to meet the children, in role as a Story Smith, he is working on a new version of Jack and the Beanstalk and needs the children’s help. The Story Smith asks the children if they know it. Together they piece together the main events of the story. In order to explore further they need more space so they leave the classroom for the hall.

Laid out in the hall is a 100 number grid similar to a snakes and ladder board. Beginning at number one, Jack’s house, the children and the Story Smith imagine what it must be like doing the chores. When each exercise is complete a number challenge card is read out and the children attempt to solve the puzzle to move on along the board. The children, in the collective role of Jack, meet Jack’s Mother she talks to them about the need to get some money and they help decide to sell the cow. The next number challenge leads the children to meet a strange little old man on the road to market; a child takes on the role of Jack while two others represent the cow. The exchange of the cow for the bag of beans is played out.

Meanwhile Jack’s Mother is excitedly planning what to spend the money on once the family debts are paid off. Jack returns with his bag of beans and children play out the scene between Jack and his Mother until he is sent to bed and the beans are thrown through the window. We see Jack in his bedroom alone with his thoughts before going to sleep.


Arriving back after break the children see that the Beanstalk has grown and join Jack as he climbs up, and bounces his way across the clouds to the castle. The door is very large and the children estimate how big the giant might be based on a footprint. Jack sneaks into the castle and find himself in the kitchen. Lost in exploring the giant kitchen Jack is caught by the cook, who is persuaded by Jack to let him live because he can help preparing the Giant’s supper. The Giant is having Bean Feast Soup and the different ingredients have to be weighed out, but some of the weights seem to be missing. The children work to combine different weights to make the right quantities.

The Giant returns from his night of plundering and Jack hides, the Giant eats and falls asleep while counting his loot.

With the teacher as the sleeping giant the children try to sneak up and take the bag of money, each time the giant is disturbed by too much noise he
stirs in his sleep and the children in role as Jack freeze. When the Jacks haev all the money, they sneak off and climb down the beanstalk.

The children help count the money but quickly realise there is not much and will not last long. Jack decides to climb the beanstalk once more.
At the Giant’s castle Jack lies in wait once more and watches as the Giant return as before and as well as money being counted Jack sees the Hen that lays the golden egg. Jack has to decide whether to take the money, the golden eggs or the Hen. As Jack grabs the Hen the clucking wakes the Giant and he runs, Jack makes it to the beanstalk and as he climbs down he calls to his Mother for the axe and she chops the beanstalk down. The Giant falls and dies.

There is a discussion as to whether the treatment of the Giant is fair, votes are cast by putting beans in a yes or no pot the outcome is assessed . And what became of Jack and his Mother? Did they live happily ever after? What happens when the rest of the village hear about the wonderful Hen? Do Jack and his Mother share their good fortune? Why is nobody talking about the huge dead giant lying on the village green? They are all stories for another time.

The programme ends.

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Curriculum Links

Bag of Beans makes connections with the National Curriculum in a number of different subject areas.  Due to the nature of the programme the majority of participation makes links with the Mathematics curriculum.  Other areas of the curriculum which the programme touches upon are English, SMSC and Citizenship and Design Technology.

An ancient book has been found that throws a very different slant on the traditional tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. By using their mathematical knowledge the children investigate the world of the giant, and by undertaking a challenging quest, unlock his secrets in the hope of finding their way to his treasure.

This programme helps children to practice mathematical principles in practical applications and encourages the imaginative processes which are at the heart of solving many mathematical problems.


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Resources & Links


The Princess Bride. Director Rob Reiner  (1987)
This film is a celebration of storytelling and adventure that challenges typical storytelling conventions.

Shrek. Director Andrew Adamson (2001)
Shrek is a well known intertextual children’s film that you may have heard of!  It plays with the genres of storytelling and fairytales.

The B.F.G. Director Brian Cosgrove (1989)
The B.F.G is a classic children’s story about a big friendly giant and accepting difference; written by Roald Dahl and made in to an animated film. This film features many different kinds of giants from the the Bloodbottler and the Childchewer to the Bonecruncher and the Fleshlumpeater!

The Labyrinth. Director Jim Henson (1986)
This is a fabulous film in which a young girl must figure out puzzles in order to find her baby brother and save him from the goblin king (David Bowie). This film is full of imagination with puppetry, song and dance. For teachers it might be a bit nostalgic!

The Never Ending story. Director Wolfgang Peterson (1985)
A new take on storytelling featuring all sorts of magical creatures: A troubled young boy steps into a fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

The Crystal Maze. Director Weiner World Studio (2002)
The Crystal Maze is a popular television programme that has been around for decades where the contestants must solve many puzzles and problems.


Revolting Rhymes. Roald Dahl – Jonathan Cape ISBN-10: 9780224029322
Wonderfully horrid rhymes from Roald Dahl including his twisted version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The Selfish Giant. Oscar Wilde – Longman ISBN-10: 0582456096
A classic tale of the giant who would not let the children play in his beautiful garden so his garden was punished with eternal winter until the children melt the giant’s heart.

The Book of Giant Stories. David L. Harrison – Boyds Mills Press ISBN-10: 1563979764
Mighty giants meet a down-to-earth. In each tale, the villains are overshadowed by good sense and practical wisdom.

Website Links

Link 1:

This is a link to the Story of Maillardet’s Automaton: A brief history of the automata toy and its inventor whose ideas are the foundation of the levers, pulleys and mathematical toys that you may see within this production.

Link 2:

This website includes descriptions of various kinetic mechanized toys and machines similar to those within our story and how they work. You may also want to follow the further links to videos of the toys in motion.


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Spring 2018 tour:

Performed by Simon Turner
Directed by Malcolm Jennings

Floor cloth designed and painted by Sandra Field
Props by Liz Vass
Thanks to Baseema Mills and the staff and pupils of Robin Hood Academy


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