Esio Trot – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

Welcome to the beautiful world of Esio Trot! As teachers, we are always looking for ways to add variety and intrigue to our classrooms, and this particular classic by Roald Dahl is just perfect.

Not only do students love it, but its engaging storyline and entertaining characters also provide an excellent opportunity to delve into learning activities that boost interdisciplinary academic skills.

In this post, we’ll help you plan a successful Esio Trot unit in your classroom – from preparing materials and outlining your lesson plans to generate activities that promote literacy development.

We hope you find it helpful as you plan particular ways to bring Mr Hoppy’s story alive for your students!

Related: For more, check out our article on Once by Morris Gleitzman  here.

Esio Trot

Synopsis Of Esio Trot

“Esio Trot” is a children’s novel by Roald Dahl that tells the story of Mr Hoppy, a retired bachelor who lives alone in his apartment and secretly loves his neighbour, Mrs Silver.

Mrs Silver owns a tortoise named Alfie, whom she loves dearly but wishes would grow bigger.

Mr Hoppy hatches a plan to win Mrs Silver’s affection by pretending to have invented a magical spell that will make Alfie grow larger by reciting a series of words (“Esio Trot”) and switching out the tortoise with progressively larger ones over time.

The plan works, and Mrs Silver falls in love with Mr Hoppy after seeing the growth of her beloved pet.

In the end, Mr Hoppy reveals his scheme to Mrs Silver, who forgives and agrees to marry him, despite his deception. The story emphasises the power of love and the lengths people will go to for those they care about.

Themes and Characters In Esio Trot


  1. Love: The central theme of “Esio Trot” is love, particularly the lengths people will go to for those they care about. Mr Hoppy’s elaborate scheme to make Alfie grow larger is driven by his desire to win Mrs Silver’s affection, and he ultimately succeeds.
  2. Deception: Another prominent theme in the book is deception, as Mr Hoppy pretends to have invented a magical spell to impress Mrs Silver and gain her affection.
  3. Loneliness: Mr Hoppy’s life as a retired bachelor living alone in his apartment highlights the theme of loneliness, which drives him to seek companionship with Mrs Silver.


  1. Mr Hoppy: The story’s protagonist is a retired bachelor who lives alone in his apartment and secretly loves his neighbour, Mrs Silver.
  2. Mrs Silver: Mr Hoppy’s neighbour and object of his affection, who owns a tortoise named Alfie that she wishes would grow larger.
  3. Alfie: Mrs Silver’s beloved pet tortoise is the centrepiece of Mr Hoppy’s plan to win her.

How Does Mr Hoppy Deceive Mrs Silver

Mr Hoppy deceives Mrs Silver by pretending to have invented a magical spell that will make her tortoise, Alfie, grow larger if she follows specific steps, including reciting “Esio Trot”.

He then starts swapping different-sized tortoises while pretending Alfie is increasing because of her efforts. Eventually, he replaced him with one much larger than before.

Mr Hoppy goes to great lengths to keep his plan a secret, even going so far as to purchase and care for many tortoises to ensure that he can continue the deception over an extended period.

This elaborate scheme ultimately succeeds in winning Mrs Silver’s affection, as she is impressed by the apparent growth of her beloved pet and grateful to Mr Hoppy for his help.

When Mrs Silver discovered Mr Hoppy’s deception, she initially felt shocked and betrayed that he had lied to her about the growth of her beloved tortoise, Alfie.

She was hurt that Mr Hoppy had gone to such great lengths to deceive her and questioned whether his feelings for her were genuine or a means to an end.

However, as she reflected on the situation and talked with Mr Hoppy, she realised how much he truly loved her and how far he was willing to go to make her happy.

In the end, Mrs Silver forgave Mr Hoppy for his deception, and their relationship became more potent due to their newfound understanding of each other’s feelings.

Esio Trot

Teaching Opportunities In Esio Trot

Here are some teaching opportunities where you could teach a key feature of writing using Esio Trot

  1. Characterisation: Students can analyse the characters in Esio Trot and discuss how Roald Dahl creates memorable and unique characters through their actions, dialogue, and physical descriptions.
  2. Plotting: Students can study the plot structure of Esio Trot and identify the key events that drive the story forward. They can also discuss how Dahl builds tension and suspense throughout the story to keep readers engaged.
  3. Descriptive Writing: Students can practice descriptive writing by focusing on Dahl’s vivid descriptions of Alfie the tortoise or Mr Hoppy’s apartment building. They can analyse how Dahl uses sensory details to create a rich and immersive world for readers.
  4. Dialogue: Students can study the conversation between Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver in Esio Trot and identify how it reveals character traits, advances the plot, or creates humour.
  5. Theme: Students can explore the themes of love, deception, and kindness in Esio Trot and analyse how they are developed throughout the story. They can also discuss how these themes relate to real-life situations or experiences.
  6. Point of View: Students can examine the point of view used in Esio Trot (third-person limited) and discuss how it affects their understanding of the story’s events and characters.
  7. Humour: Students can study Roald Dahl’s use of humour in Esio Trot and identify different types of humour, such as irony, hyperbole, or puns. They can also practice incorporating humour into their writing.
  8. Symbolism: Students can analyse symbolism used in Esio Trot, such as Alfie’s growth representing Mrs Silver’s love for him or Mr Hoppy’s balcony flowers expressing his love for Mrs Silver.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more opportunities to teach various writing features using Roald Dahl’s classic tale, Esio Trot!

Esio Trot Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan: Exploring Characterisation in Esio Trot


Students will be able to analyse the characters in Esio Trot and identify how Roald Dahl creates memorable and unique characters through their actions, dialogue, and physical descriptions.


  • Copies of Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
  • Chart paper or whiteboard
  • Markers


Introduction (10 minutes):

Begin by introducing the book Esio Trot to the class. Provide some background information on Roald Dahl as an author and explain that he is known for creating memorable characters in his stories.

Ask students if they have read Dahl’s other books and what they enjoyed about them.

Finally, introduce the focus of today’s lesson – characterisation – and explain that students will analyse the characters in Esio Trot to see how Dahl creates such vivid and unique personalities.

Reading & Analysis (30 minutes):

Have students read chapter one of Esio Trot independently or with a partner. As they read, ask them to pay attention to the physical descriptions and actions of Mr Hoppy and Alfie, the tortoise.

Please encourage them to take notes on what they notice about each character. After reading, bring the class back together and create a chart on chart paper or whiteboard with two columns labelled “Mr Hoppy” and “Alfie”.

Ask students to share their observations about each character from chapter one, including their physical appearance, personality traits, interests/hobbies, etc. Add these observations to the chart.

Discussion & Application (20 minutes):

Lead a discussion with the class on how Roald Dahl uses physical descriptions, actions, dialogue, etc., to create memorable characters like Mr Hoppy and Alfie. Ask students why it is essential for authors to create unique and special characters in their stories.

Next, divide students into small groups or pairs. Assign each group/pair one character from Esio Trot (either Mr Hoppy or Alfie) and have them create a character sketch or portrait detailing their assigned character’s physical appearance, personality traits/interests/hobbies based on what they learned from chapter one.

Please encourage them to use descriptive language similar to what they saw in the text.

Conclusion (10 minutes):

Bring everyone back together as a whole group and have each group/pair present their character sketch/portrait for either Mr Hoppy or Alfie. In contrast, others listen attentively, asking questions if necessary.

Finally, wrap up by discussing how understanding characterisation can help us become better readers as we can connect with different aspects of each character, leading us deeper into understanding the story.


Students will be assessed informally during discussion sessions and formally through presenting their created sketches/portraits.


For an extension activity, encourage students interested in writing creatively to write short stories featuring either Mr Hoppy or Alfie using all that they have learned through this lesson plan about characterisation techniques used by Roald Dahl.

Website Resources

  1. This website provides a range of teaching resources for the book “Esio Trot” by Roald Dahl. It includes lesson plans, activity ideas, and printable worksheets that cover different aspects of the story, such as characterisation, plot, and themes. The resources are suitable for both primary and secondary school students.
  2.–en-gb This website offers a comprehensive teaching guide for “Esio Trot” by Roald Dahl. The guide includes a book summary, discussion questions, writing prompts, and activities exploring different literary techniques used in the story. It is designed for teachers in upper primary or lower secondary schools.
  3. This website provides a full-book reciprocal reading lesson plan for “Esio Trot” by Roald Dahl. It includes detailed instructions on implementing shared reading in the classroom and printable worksheets for each process stage. This resource is aimed at upper primary or lower secondary school students.

Overall these websites offer a variety of resources that can be used to teach “Esio Trot” by Roald Dahl across different age groups and levels of ability. Teachers can use these materials to create engaging lessons that help students develop their literacy skills while exploring essential themes and ideas in the story.


We trust that the guidance provided here will significantly enhance your ability to bring Mr. Hoppy’s enchanting tale to life in your classrooms. Remember, the ultimate aim is not just to teach, but to inspire curiosity and foster a love for learning.

The extraordinary world of ‘Esio Trot’ serves as an excellent tool in achieving this. So, embark on this delightful journey with Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver, and watch as your students engage, learn, and grow. Happy teaching!


1. How can I incorporate the story of Mr. Hoppy into my lesson plans?

You can use the story as a catalyst for various activities – from creative writing tasks to character analysis, and even exploring broader themes such as love, patience, and cleverness.

2. Can I use ‘Esio Trot’ to teach subjects other than English?

Absolutely! The story offers numerous opportunities to delve into different subjects. For instance, you could use Mr. Hoppy’s unique problem-solving methods to teach maths or Mrs. Silver’s pet tortoise to discuss animal care in science.

3. Is ‘Esio Trot’ suitable for children of all reading abilities?

Yes, Roald Dahl’s storytelling style is accessible, engaging, and suitable for a wide range of reading abilities. It provides less confident readers with a sense of accomplishment and offers proficient readers the chance to explore deeper themes and character dynamics.

4. How can I use ‘Esio Trot’ to encourage a love for reading in my students?

The captivating narrative and relatable characters in ‘Esio Trot’ are perfect for instilling a love for reading. Encourage your students to imagine themselves in the story, discuss their favorite parts, and even create their own endings to further enhance their engagement.

Remember, each child’s interaction with the story will be unique. It’s your role as an educator to facilitate these interactions and help your students uncover the magic within the pages of ‘Esio Trot’. Good luck!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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