You’ve likely heard your students complain about Shakespeare before. Every teacher has. He is hard to read. His work is boring. His work is not easily relatable. As a teacher, you know these complaints are quite untrue except perhaps for the difficulty in reading Shakespeare’s English. But how do you share the joy of Shakespeare’s work with your students while still making it fun? This article will explore several Shakespeare-themed activities which you and your students can do, and at the end if they still do not like Shakespeare, at least they will be able to say they had fun and learned about this brilliant wordsmith anyhow.
All The World is a Stage
Set the stage. If you are going to study Hamlet, for example, turn off the classroom lights, and set LED tea lights on tables and desks throughout the classroom to give the feel of a dark, slightly spooky night. Be sure to set the tea lights somewhere where they are not a distraction to students. You could even create a night backdrop. If you are going to teach Romeo and Juliet, you could create a scene that looks like the iconic window. Use inexpensive props, and your classroom will look like a Shakespeare set in no time. As a bonus, students will realize something is different, and will likely pay more attention.
As you study the sections of a Shakespeare play, make sure to ask your students their thoughts on the characters. Discuss the character’s motives and personalities so that your class gets to know the characters. Then ask them to do a 3-5 song playlist of their favorite characters. With each song choice, ask them to include a two-paragraph mini essay explaining why they chose the song they chose. If you wanted, you could even ask them to properly cite song lyrics. Your students will much more easily remember that Justin Bieber was Romeo than simply answering questions about who Romeo killed on a reading quiz.
If you are studying Hamlet, you could have a discussion of the various ways to create Hamlet’s father’s ghost. Have your students discuss various ways of creating the ghost, including puppets, bedsheets ghosts, and anything else your students think up. Then discuss how the ghost was created in Shakespeare’s time. Be sure to discuss what makes the ghost foreboding.
Perform a Mini Play
A full play would be difficult to perform in a small space, but you could perform one scene from the play you are studying. Assign each student a character part. If you have more students than characters, assign some to make sound effects, flash the lights to make lightning or raise and lower backdrops. This way, your students can feel as if they are part of the Shakespeare experience.
Your lessons on Shakespeare do not have to be boring! They can be fun, informative and memorable. With the above activities, you can teach your class Shakespeare in a way they will never forget. Also, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. Use your imagination and creativity, and you can probably come up with many more. Believe us, your students will thank you.