The Minpins

Age Range: 5 - 11

Little Billy doesn't really believe there are monsters in the wood, but the red-hot smoke-belching gruncher is real enough, and so are the tiny minpins, whose minature world is in danger.

Book Author: Roald Dahl

See More Books from this author

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Write a new story about a boy or girl who ventures into an unusual forest. What will they find?
  • 'Little Billy was awfully tired of being good'. Write a new story with this as the first line. What happens next?
  • The author makes up the names of different creatures that might live in The Forest of Sin. Can you make up a name for a new creature? What does it look like? What happens to it?
  • Make a list of words to describe The Forest of Sin when Little Billy first goes into it.
  • Use drama activities (e.g. Conscience corridor) to discuss whether Little Billy should go into The Forest of Sin and how he feels about it.
  • Look at the illustration of Little Billy first entering The Forest of Sin. Think of synonyms to describe the size of the trees and words to describe Little Billy.
  • Entering The Forest of Sin is 'like being among the dead men an enormous empty green cathedral'. Can you think of similes to describe different places??(see Resources below)
  • Stop reading the book at the point when Little Billy sees 'a sight that froze is blood and made icicles in his veins'. Discuss what this might be? Could you describe / draw what Little Billy has seen?
  • The Gruncher makes lots of strange sounds, e.g. Whooshing, swooshing, whiffing. Can you think of any other examples of onomatopoeia?
  • The Gruncher is 'ravenous'. Can you think of synonyms for this word?
  • Write about a new adventure that Little Billy has while he is away travelling with the Swan.


  • Little Billy goes out through the garden gate in a 'jiffy'. How long is this? Can you think of other ways of describe different periods of time. Which ones are the shortest / longest?
  • If you were going to measure the height of a Minpin, what equipment would you need? How tall is a Minpin? What percentage of your height is the height of a Minpin?


  • When Little Billy first enters The Forest of Sin he can hear absolute silence. Can you find a place where there is absolute silence? What things make sounds? How are they made? How are sounds measured? What is the loudest / quietest sound that you can make?
  • The Gruncher uses his sense of smell to find humans. What other animals use smell? How are their noses adapted for this?
  • Find out about the different types of birds in the story. How are they similar / different?
  • Can you try birdwatching at your home / school. What types of birds live in your local area? Can you spot a Minpin flying on their backs?


  • Use publishing software to make a sign telling people to keep away from The Forest of Sin.
  • Imagine that you are an estate agent trying to sell a Minpin's house to a new Minpin family. Make a poster using publishing software to advertise it.

Design Technology

  • Make a scale model of a Minpin. Could you make families of Minpins with your friends?
  • Make a set of Minpin puppets and perform a play using them. Use the 'Tiny Door' picture?(see Resources below) or a picture of your own as a backdrop.
  • Design (and build) a new house for a Minpin. How large would the different parts need to be?


  • Make a storyboard that retells the main events of the story.
  • Use different types of media to show some of the other creatures that might live in The Forest of Sin.
  • Little Billy stares into 'the everlasting gloom and doom of the forest'. Can you create a picture that uses perspective to show this?
  • Use the descriptions in the text to draw / paint a picture of the Gruncher.
  • Cut out your own Minpin pictures and add them to the Forest picture?(see Resources below).


  • Draw a map of The Forest of Sin, including the different places, people and creatures mentioned in the story.
  • Draw a map of the tree in which the Minpins live, showing the different rooms that they have inside it.
  • Imagine that you could fly on a bird to anywhere in the world. Where would you choose to go? Why?


  • ?The Minpins wear clothes that are 'the sort of thing people wore two or three hundred years ago'. Find out about clothing and fashion from different periods in history.


  • 'Little Billy's mother was always telling him exactly what he was allowed to do and what he was not allowed to do'. Make a list of things that you are / aren't allowed to do. Can you think of reasons why you aren't allowed to do certain things??(see Resources below)


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