Well, I am a former high school English teacher and I have been told three times that these students won't learn Shakespeare. I took those words as a challenge and smiled, we'll see. Perhaps you are facing a class full of students who have no interest in reading, never mind reading Thee's and Thou's. It is possible to teach Shakespeare to a class that doesn't want to learn it. Teach Shakespeare in a way that gets students interested This article offers ten strategies for teaching Shakespearean plays to your class You too can introduce the world's great playwright to a bunch of very reluctant teenagers who would rather have been playing video games, or texting their friends. These strategies will help your bored class turn into an Shakespearean enthusiasts.
Main menu • • • English • • • • • • • • Maths • • • • • • • • Topic • • • • • • • • • • • • • Science • • • • • • • • Subject • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • School Year • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Topics • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Who was William Shakespeare?
William Shakespeare is a famous British playwright, which means he’s someone who wrote plays. Shakespeare lived around the late 16th century and early 17th century, and in between the reigns of and King James I. Both of them saw some of the plays he wrote, which are still performed today. Some of the phrases that Shakespeare wrote have even become parts of our everyday language!
Top 10 facts • William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564. • Shakespeare’s wife’s name was Anne Hathaway.
• Shakespeare had three children: Susanna, Hamnet and Judith. • Shakespeare worked as actor with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later called the King’s Men. • Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets and around 40 plays. • One of Shakespeare’s first plays is Henry V. • Shakespeare’s plays were performed for both and King James I – James I was the patron of Shakespeare’s theatre group. • Shakespeare’s theatre group performed in the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre.
• Some phrases that Shakespeare wrote in his plays are things we still say today. Timeline • We don’t know the date that William Shakespeare was born – we just know the date that he was baptised. • Shakespeare had three children named Susanna, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet and Judith were twins. • Before Shakespeare wrote plays, he worked as an actor with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. • The Lord Chamberlain’s Men changed its name to the King’s Men in 1603, which is when James I was crowned king and became the group’s patron.
• Shakespeare wrote both poems and plays – he started out by writing poems first. • Most of the poems Shakespeare wrote are called sonnets. He wrote 154 sonnets! • Shakespeare is sometimes called ‘The Bard of Avon’ – a bard is another word for a poet. • Shakespeare wrote almost 40 plays. • Someone who writes plays is also called a playwright. • Not a lot of people could read and write in Shakespeare’s time, so the Globe Theatre hung different coloured flags to let people know when a play was going to be performed, and what kind of play it was going to be (if it was sad or funny).
• The Globe Theatre was shaped like an octagon – it had eight sides. • Women didn’t act in Shakespeare’s time, so boys would have to play the roles of women.
That means that Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ would have been played by a boy! Look through the gallery and see if you can spot all the following: • William Shakespeare • William Shakespeare’s birthplace • William Shakespeare’s grave • Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where William Shakespeare is buried • A drawing of what Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre would have looked like • A replica (copy) of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, which was built in London in 1997 • A painting by 19th century Scottish artist Thomas Faed called ‘Shakespeare and his friends’ Gallery Even though they lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married in a village called Temple Grafton.
At some point between 1585 and 1592, Shakespeare moved to London. His wife and children were still in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Shakespeare didn’t move back there until 1611. Shakespeare mostly wrote plays and sonnets, which are a kind of poem. Sonnets have 14 lines with 10 syllables in each line.
Shakespeare’s theatre group, The King’s Men, worked in two theatres – the Globe and the Blackfriars. Actors in Shakespeare’s time had a bad reputation – people thought they weren’t very nice people, and couldn’t be trusted. So, groups of actors – called troupes – tried to get someone rich to sponsor them. This sponsor would give them money and things that they needed.
Shakespeare’s theatre group would have had to show people a piece of paper with their sponsor’s name written on it if they wanted to be welcomed somewhere. Shakespeare’s theatre group worked in two places – the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre. The Globe theatre didn’t have a roof on it, but the Blackfriars Theatre did so it could be used when the weather got cold.
Seeing a play at the Globe Theatre was comfortable if you could pay for a seat with a cushion, but if you paid just one penny you could stand in the middle. Shakespeare was part of The Friday Club, a group for actors, poets, authors and playwrights (like Shakespeare). The explorer Sir Walter Raleigh began the group in 1603, and they all met in the Mermaid Tavern, so they sometimes called themselves the Mermaid Club.
Shakespeare wrote three different kinds of plays – comedies (funny plays), tragedies (sad plays) and histories (plays about a real person). A different colour flag would be flown from the top of the theatre so people would know which play was about to be performed – white meant a comedy would be performed, red a history, and black or dark colours meant a tragedy.
Shakespeare’s comedy plays are: All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, Love's Labour's Lost, Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and A Winter's Tale.
Shakespeare’s tragedy plays are: Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, and Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare’s history plays are: King Henry IV Part 1, King Henry IV Part 2, King Henry V, King Henry VI Part 1, King Henry VI Part 2, King Henry VI Part 3, King Henry VIII, King John, Richard II, and Richard III.
Shakespeare wrote his sonnets and plays around 400 years ago, but some of the phrases he wrote have become a part of our everyday language. For instance, you might have heard someone in trouble say that they’re ‘in a pickle’, or heard being greedy described as ‘the green-eyed monster’. Famous friends: Sir Walter Raleigh (c.1552 – 1618) – Sir Walter Raleigh visited America and helped start colonies there, and some people think that he was the first one to bring tobacco and potatoes into England.
He also founded the Friday Club in 1603, which was a group for poets and playwrights that Shakespeare belonged to. Ben Johnson (1572-1637) – Ben Johnson wrote plays and poems around the same time that Shakespeare did. Both he and Shakespeare belonged to the Friday Club that Sir Walter Raleigh began. Ben wrote a poem in the introduction of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which is the collection of works that was published a few years after Shakespeare died.
Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (1573-1624) – Henry Wriothesley was a wealthy man, and the patron of William Shakespeare. He loved the theatre and plays. Richard Burbage (1568-1619) – Richard Burbage was a famous actor, and part of William Shakespeare’s theatre group.
He often played the lead role in Shakespeare’s plays. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) – Christopher Marlowe was born the same year as Shakespeare, and also famous for writing plays. Shakespeare didn’t start writing plays and having them performed until after Christopher Marlowe died. Related Videos • about William Shakespeare and his plays • in Shakespeare's time • • Scroll down the page to play a about William Shakespeare and the theatre • or an • • Try a few of our suggestions to • Watch a on the BBC Schools Radio site • Find out • Star in a Shakespeare story, play games and complete a digital sticker book with the for iPad • In , 10 of Shakespeare’s most famous plays are the inspiration for a new stories by leading children’s writers; listen to them online • is an free interactive game for desktop computers from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust • is a digital passport to Shakespeare, a series of interactive online challenges to complete Children's books about Shakespeare Shakespeare stories rewritten for children Shakespeare's famous stories have been reworded and illustrated for different ages and offer a great introduction to his classic plays.
We love these five series, or look through our : • ' comic-book retellings • • • from Orchard Books • Find out more: • • The Royal Shakespeare Company's offers loads of information on Shakespeare's plays, including key facts, key scenes, pictures from past productions and videos of actors and directors working on and performing the plays • • • • • Discover • • • • Watch clips and play games on • Use a brilliant to 'translate' Shakespeare into today's English • Children's newspaper First News has produced a Shakespeare special edition which offers a brilliant kids' introduction to the Bard: (£3.50) See for yourself • Visit to find out more about his life.
• At you can explore classroom where Shekespeare studied between the ages of 7 and 14, find out about the kind of lessons he went to and even try some Tudor homework!
• While you’re in , see where Shakespeare is buried at the Holy Trinity Church. • A was built in London near the spot where Shakespeare’s theatre stood. You can or take a if you can't get there in person! • A cartoon version of Midsummer Night’s Dream:; ; . Lots of are available. Also see
best dating shakespeare plays to read in middle school english class - What is the best way to teach Shakespeare to middle and high school kids?
Think teaching Shakespeare is all toil and trouble? Methinks thou dost protest too much! These Shakespeare activities and printables will help you screw your courage to the sticking place and remember that the play’s the thing! Shakespeare Activities 1. Solve a Cold Case Ripped from the headlines! Set up a crime scene and challenge your class to find the motivation behind Caesar’s murder. Who says Shakespeare has to be boring?
Source: 2. Craft Bumper Stickers This works for any play. Have your students design bumper stickers! Simple concept but lots of room for creativity. Source: 3. Build a Globe Theatre Model Knowing about the theater where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed is essential to understanding the plays themselves.
Have your students build this simple paper model as you learn about the Globe Theatre. Get it: 4. Design a Mask for the Ball Have students create a mask for a specific character to wear to the Romeo and Juliet masquerade ball. They must justify their color and style choices for that character—a fun way to do character analysis. Source: 5. Transl8 a Scene 2 Txt The language may be archaic, but the stories are endlessly modern.
Have your class re-write a scene or sonnet in text, tweets, or other social media for a fun twist. Source: 6. Replace Words With Emojis Take things a step further and remove words from the equation entirely!
Have students devise book covers or re-write a scene or sonnet using only emojis to tell the tale. Discuss the difficulty of encapsulating some concepts in brief images and compare them with Shakespeare’s word choices.
Source: 7. Design a Book Cover Combine art and graphic design with literature when you have kids originate book covers for a Shakespeare play. They make a fun classroom display too! Source: 8. Dress the Part Dramatic readings are much more fun with a few props and costumes! This easy DIY paper ruff is made from coffee filters, and younger kids will love dressing up while they learn. Source: 9. Make Shakespearean One-Pagers Challenge students to represent a play visually—all on one page.
Templates are available at the link below to help get you started. Source: 10. Generate Word Clouds Use a computer program like or to build a word cloud identifying important words from a play or sonnet. (Tagxedo allows you to create word clouds in a variety of shapes.) Discuss these words and their importance. Source: 11. Try Running Dictation Get kids up and moving with “running dictation.” Print out a sonnet, prologue, monologue, or other important speech. Cut it up by lines and hang the sections up around a room or other area.
Students find the lines, memorize them, report them to a scribe, and then put them in order. Source: 12. Fashion Upcycled “Laurel” Wreaths Need some impromptu costumes for Julius Caesar or Coriolanus? These clever “laurel” wreaths are made from plastic spoons! Source: 13. Write a Scene in Comic Form Like storyboarding, writing a scene in comic form helps capture the essence of the action. Kids can use the actual text from the scene or add in their own sense of humor.
(Mya Gosling has re-written most of Macbeth in this form. For inspiration, check it out at the link below.) Source: 14. Write Concrete Poems Turn pivotal quotes from a play into concrete poems, using shapes that represent the concept. Students can do this by hand or using the computer. Source: 15. Stage Scene Snapshots Performing an entire play takes a lot of time. Instead, have student groups stage scene snapshots capturing key moments from the play. Assemble them into a storyboard that covers the whole play.
Source: 16. Enjoy a Musical Interlude Compile a playlist for the play, act by act. Have students explain their song choices and listen to some of them in class.
Source: 17. Write in Style Get younger kids excited about Shakespeare when they write with their own “quill” pens.
Color, cut out, and tape around a pen or crayon for old time fun! Source: Shakespeare Printables 18. William Shakespeare Coloring Page Meet the Bard! Use this coloring image to introduce Shakespeare to young readers or as an anchor for other creative activities. Get it: 19. Cheer Up, Hamlet! Paper Doll Have a little fun when teaching Hamlet. This free printable paper doll collection includes standard costumes but also hilarious extras like Captain Denmark and Doctor Who.
Get it: 20. Shakespeare Mad Libs Remove key words from scenes or sonnets, fill in some new ones, and let the fun begin! Hit the link below for several pre-made games. You or your students can also make your own. Get it: 21. Shakespeare Lettering Sets Download these free letter sets (one for general Shakespeare, one for Macbeth) to create bulletin boards or other classroom displays. Get it: 22. Elizabethan Language Terms Print a copy for each student to keep handy as they tackle Shakespeare’s works.
Get it: 23. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Coloring Pages Introducing younger students to A Midsummer Night’s Dream? These printable coloring pages and finger puppets are just the ticket. Get it: 24. Phrases We Owe to Shakespeare Poster Shakespeare’s language becomes much more relatable when you realize .
Hang this poster to introduce your students to some of these phrases. Get it: 25. Shakespeare Notebooking Pages Keep students organized with these free printable notebooking pages for a variety of Shakespeare plays. Get it: 26. Shakespeare’s Life Poster Hang this tongue-in-cheek timeline of the man himself to give students an overview of his life. Get it: 27. Shakespeare Plays Word Search Print this simple word search to familiarize your class with Shakespeare’s plays.
Get it: 28. Chalkboard Shakespeare Quote Printables These four printable posters will look great on your classroom walls. For a fun activity, challenge your students to create a poster of their own favorite Shakespeare quote. Get it: 29. Vintage Shakespeare Quote Printables These pretty vintage images with Shakespeare quotes will add a touch of class to your classroom. Get it: 30. Shakespeare Plays Flowchart Wondering which Shakespeare play to see? This flowchart has got you covered!
You can print your own version for free or buy a full-size poster. Get it: What are your favorite Shakespeare activities and printables? Come and share in our on Facebook.
The best of the Bard’s plays, with some interesting facts about them Every Shakespeare play is a classic, of course. But left behind nearly forty plays, including his collaborations with John Fletcher and others, and it would be disingenuous to claim that they all have equal ‘classic’ status among the Bard’s work.
What we’ve compiled here, then, is less a definitive list of ‘best Shakespeare plays’ and more a small selection of some of his most talked-about, reread, performed, and adapted plays. We’ve included some facts about them as we go. We’ve not attempted to place them in any preferential order: that would be a step too far. But what, if you had to choose, would be the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays?
Romeo and Juliet. The most famous scene in this play, written in the mid-1590s, is the ‘balcony’ scene – though about whether it would have originally contained a balcony when originally performed. (Shakespeare simply has Juliet appearing ‘at a window’ in the stage directions.) Nevertheless, Romeo and Juliet has captured the world’s imagination as a classic tale of doomed young lovers (though the story, as with most of Shakespeare’s plays, wasn’t originated by the Bard himself, but adapted from earlier sources). Thousands of Valentines are written to ‘Juliet’ each year in Verona.
Macbeth. Based on a real king and queen of Scotland named Mac Bethad mac Findlaích and Gruoch, Macbeth was composed shortly after the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605, the Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London and, with them, King James I of England.
James, of course, was already King James VI of Scotland when he came to the English throne in 1603, and he claimed descent from Banquo – hence the prophecy surrounding Banquo’s descendants in the play. In 1849, the play , which arose after two rival actors fell out. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. One of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, this play is about ‘the course of true love’ and how it never runs smooth.
The enchanting story of magic and fairies has inspired some unusual adaptations: in 1911, Herbert Beerbohm Tree staged a celebrated production of the play which . It’s even influenced Hollywood blockbusters: the director of the 1988 action movie Die Hard, John McTiernan, was by reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream. King Lear. This play, which opens with the titular king preparing to divide his kingdom up between his three daughters Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, was based on an earlier play about ‘King Leir’, king of ancient Britain.
In the original chronicle on which that earlier play was itself based, – but Shakespeare saw the potential for tragedy in this tale of parents, children, siblings, and civil war. The play also, somewhat pleasingly, contains the – though footballers weren’t paid nearly as much in Shakespeare’s day. Hamlet. Based on an earlier play, now sadly lost, Hamlet is often considered Shakespeare’s masterpiece. It certainly marked a turning point in his development as a playwright, seen in the more intense and psychologically complex soliloquies spoken by the title character.
Composed in around 1600-1, Hamlet has . The Klingon Hamlet, whose full title is The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo’noS, was translated by Nick Nicholas and Andrew Strader of the ‘Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project’, using the fictional language from the television series Star Trek. Is this Shakespeare’s best play of all? didn’t think so, as . The Tempest. Often read as , this play was first performed in 1611 and was, indeed, the last play Shakespeare wrote entirely on his own.
After writing this play about a shipwreck and a magical island, Shakespeare went on to collaborate with John Fletcher on several plays, including Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and the lost play Cardenio, based on a story from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Richard III. Interest in this play has always been high, but it has received a boost in the last few years following the discovery of the real King Richard III’s remains underneath a Leicester car park. One of the most intriguing discoveries that followed was the fact that the real King Richard, although not exactly a ‘crookback’ (he is described, in brilliant Shakespearean metaphors, as a ‘bottled spider’ and a ‘bunch-back’d toad’ in the play), did suffer from scoliosis and a slightly deformed spine – meaning that the propaganda which Shakespeare’s play helped to perpetuate had some basis in fact.
Othello. Shakespeare’s great tragedy about the dangers of jealousy – memorably described in the play as ‘the green-eyed monster’ – is subtitled The Moor of Venice, pointing up Othello’s ethnic and religious identity as a North African Muslim.
In Shakespeare’s source material for the play, a short Italian novella titled Un Capitano Moro, , but all except one are simply known by their rank or title. The one exception is Desdemona. Her name, fittingly, means ‘ill-fated’. 1 Henry IV. This is probably Shakespeare’s most widely praised history play, although Henry V is also much-loved. The standout scene takes place in the Boar’s Head tavern, the favourite haunt of young Prince Hal (later to become Henry V) and his friend, the avuncular knight Sir John Falstaff, whose favourite pastimes are eating, drinking wine, and having his end away.
Having received a summons to appear before his father – King Henry IV, of course – the young Hal and Falstaff play-act what they imagine the meeting will be like, revealing, in the process, more about the distant relationship between the king and his son, compared with Hal’s warm friendship with that personification of England, fat John Falstaff. But at the end of the scene comes a twist – though we’ll say no more here, for fear of offering spoilers… Twelfth Night. This play was , or Candlemas – which was the end of the Christmas festival at the time.
Twelfth Night focuses on two twins, Viola and Sebastian, separated as a result of a shipwreck. Viola disguises herself as a boy to get close to Duke Orsino (whom she loves), in the process attracting the attention of Olivia, who falls in love with the new ‘boy’ at the Duke’s court.
This play , starring Mark Rylance as Viola and Stephen Fry as Malvolio, the steward trying to dampen everybody’s holiday fun. So much for Shakespeare’s ‘greatest’ plays – but what about his lesser-known ones? Continue your Shakespearean journey with , and some interesting stories behind them.
For more play recommendations, check out our pick of , , and . Image (top): Poster for Thomas Keene Macbeth production, c. 1884 (author: W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith.); . Image (bottom): A scene from Twelfth Night by William Hamilton, c.
1797; . What are the unclassic Shakespeare plays? Of course any lover of Shakespeare will wish to drop one or more off and put another one or more on of this mostly good list. I certainly don’t like it that ,As you like it,is not there. But then, the ieea that there are TEN Shakespeare plays that everyone should read rather than twenty or thirty or more is the problem, not the list itself.
And Troilus! This is the play that has most come into its own after neglect. David Bevington’s edition is best according to me. Reblogged this on and commented: I’ve been following Interesting Literature for some time now. Sometimes the site introduces new (to me) writers and their works. Other times, like today, I’m reminded of reading I did many years ago – some of the above, when I was in high school. Reading this post tempts me to do a study of Shakespeare’s works again.
Macbeth was my fav.
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