William Shakespeare! What does that name do for you? Do you get giddy with delight or does it send shivers down your spine? Now what if I were to tell you, you can teach your children about Shakespeare and they actually enjoy it? Do you say, it's impossible? Well, it isn't and you can. And, it isn't that hard to do. It all depends on the approach you take.
A bit of background.....how did I begin to love Shakespeare? It all started in about 8th grade when my English teacher read our class my first ever Shakespeare play, Julius Ceasar. I remember not completely understanding all that was going on but with the efforts of his excellent teaching and interpretation and later a stupendous video viewing of the play, I fell in love. Of course, I kept it to myself. What kid in high school adores Shakespeare anyway, at least in my high school? Each year, I looked forward to the play we did. I loved it when we saw Romeo and Juliet in person and then later A Midsummer's Night Dream. I fell away from it in college because I was working and going to school full time and then dating my future husband. Then, I had my first child. And, then, subsequent children and realized I wanted them to know Shakespeare, too. But, how? I couldn't just yank out my anthology of Shakespeare and start reading it aloud. It would bore them to tears! So, I started looking. And researching. And over time have developed a way to teach them Shakespeare. Now, not all of them love him like I do, but they do have plays they love. And, for me, that is enough.
So, how did I go about that? Well, in a nutshell, I started on their level. When my children were young, we listened to audio dramas by Jim Weiss. He has three cd's of Shakespeare to date and if you have never heard of Jim Weiss, you are missing a real treat. You can find his stories here. With the listening of these stories, it peaked my children's interest. Then, I used visualization. This video series is absolutely astounding in how it engages the child. Obviously, you have to decide for yourself if your child is ready for a couple of them due to their darker themes. But, they are very well done for the child (or any age for that matter, we all like them). With all this great mental and physical visualization, I felt they were ready for the next level.
There are 3 major books that I use as they grow up in working with my children. I am listing them according to age level.
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by E. Nesbitt
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
The Complete Works of Shakespeare by....well, you know :)
I find the first two at times can be exchanged but I like to use them myself in that particular order. Twice in their education years I have them listed in their reading list, just so they get a good feel for them. If you don't want to hand them a whole anthology or even want something more engaging, there is Shakespeare can be Fun (elementary) and Shakespeare Made Easy (middle school/high school). The Shakespeare can be Fun series has great little illustrations drawn by children themselves to give the series some added fun.
The books in the pic above are recent books I have discovered. All are very well done. If you want know more about Shakespeare as the parent, the book by Paul Edmondson is the one for you. The writing is very readable and gives you a great overview of his life. I would even recommend it for a high schooler. How to Teach your Children Shakespeare is a gem! A gem! It gives wonderful tips on how you can teach Shakespeare to your children. Ken Ludwig has played in several of them himself. If you would like to here a podcast of him explaining how to use this wonderful resource, click here. Well worth your time listening and money spent. Shakespeare for Kids is a great little book you can reference as you teach them about the man himself.
Speaking of which, what if you want to teach them about the man himself? And what about his globe? Then, the library is the place to hit (or a bookstore). I have used all the books pictured here and highly recommend any of them to you. The Who was William Shakespeare is an excellent biography for children to understand who he is. And I just love Welcome to the Globe and William Shakespeare and the Globe.
If you want to add a lapbook to check their knowledge, here is one that we did a few years ago.
You can find the links for the various pages that we used for our lapbooks here:
Activity village - This has all sorts of other things as well - coloring pages, copywork, notebooking pages etc.
Scribd - the fun poster we put on the back of the lapbook folder
Hubpages - where the rest of our lapbok components came from
Timeline - it is one I created myself, but with a little research, I am sure you could do something similar
His gravestone - another that we made up ourselves and added his epitaph to
You could also just stick to simple notebooking pages (like the one I have listed above) or use copywork (also listed above or you can find some free ones here).
We have also made a cute cubee of Shakespeare and a fun mini globe. There is also a youtube video on how to assemble it!
Did you know that Shakespeare was coined words and phrases you use every day? Just look at this list here and see how many of them you recognize. And here is super fun video to help your kids remember it as well.
Lastly, Shakespeare can be very very fun!
Marcia Williams writes and illustrates some of the best little graphic novels for kids on mythology and Shakespeare! Shakespeare has even influenced the world of LEGO (these are some of my sons favorite books) and Star Wars. They could color or even use puppets to relive their listening moments.
So, you see, no need to be intimidated by the name William Shakespeare. It can be easy and very fun to learn. And, with the 400th anniversary of his death coming up April 23rd, no time like the present to begin to let your kids in on this wonderful playwright.
How do you teach Shakespeare or do you? Have you been inspired to start? Links are provided throughout for most of the various books you see. (affl. links are included. Your purchase helps our family in a small way and I thank you.) Be sure to watch my facebook page as I share Shakespeare findings as we gear up for his birthday next month. https://www.facebook.com/apeekinourwindow/