The kids and I had fun learning about Shakespeare this past month. We managed to cover two plays, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest”, as well as a bit of history about Shakespeare himself, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.We followed the same strategy for each play.
For each play, we first read an adapted version of the play that highlighted the action without using Shakespeare’s language. There are two older adaptations that are great for kids – E. Nesbit’s Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers and Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare. Both are available free online from either the Kindle store or Gutenberg. I tried both this past month, and couldn’t really see a big difference between the two. After reading the adapted play, I looked for a graphic novel of the play, to give the action a more visual element. We also looked through Marcia Williams’ Tales from Shakespeare. She combined a summary of the play with key lines from the play told by actors in a comic strip format.
Once we finished reading about the plays. we were ready to watch the play. One of the reasons I had thought to do Shakespeare was because PBS was showing Shakespeare Uncovered. It’s an hour-long program that
reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and the still-potent impact his plays have today. The films combine interviews with actors, directors and scholars, along with visits to key locations, clips from some of the most-celebrated film and television adaptations, and illustrative excerpts from the plays staged specially for the series at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
We managed to find an episode on both plays we were studying. Finally, we were ready to watch the play. By this time, we had such a good idea of what was going on that we had no problem following along with the play, despite the typically difficult language.
To go along with all of our reading and watching, I decided we should play with Shakespeare’s words as well. I found a few websites that provided a list of words Shakespeare coined. We used these words to do MadLibs. While it works with any MadLibs book, I found a couple of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies turned into MadLibs, which was even better!
Finally, we studied a bit of Shakespeare’s life as well as his works. Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, provides some information on Shakespeare’s life, including what we do and do not know for sure, in narrative form. Shakespeare: His Work and His World, by Michael Rosen, talks more about his plays, incorporating Shakespeare’s words into the narrative.
There’s all kinds of information on Shakespeare and his works. These are just the ones that worked well for us. Hope you find something useful in the list.
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!