If you weren’t already aware, Shakespeare Week is almost here! Primarily celebrated in the United Kingdom, Shakespeare Week celebrates the classic works of the Bard between March 18 and March 22. But since William Shakespeare’s work is universally beloved and taught, it can and should be celebrated everywhere! As a homeschool parent, how can you and your students enjoy Shakespeare Week?
- Study some classic Shakespeare works. There are obviously quite a few works from which to choose. Between 1590 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, including 17 comedies, 10 historical plays, as well as tragedies. You’ll recognize most, if not all, of these famous works: Romeo & Juliet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Richard III, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Pick a few titles and read through them with your (age-appropriate) children, then discuss some of the themes, plot points, and characters. Then take a deeper look at the dramatic structure of a play to see how a playwright like Shakespeare would approach writing.
- Write a mini play. Use Shakespeare’s work as inspiration for your student to write a short play. This can be done while teaching the structure of a play. Your kids can choose from Shakespeare’s characters or create their own. Or, perhaps even more fun, they can bring one of Shakespeare’s works into the 21st century, keeping the general story frame but modernizing the characters and situations to reflect today’s world. Either way, it’s a fun exercise that can teach history and writing.
- Act out some Shakespeare scenes! Get the kids dressed up and have them act out some of the Bard’s most famous scenes. Most children love the chance to wear costumes, so take advantage! They’ll have a great time while learning!
- Shakespeare activities! The BBC Teach website has some amazing Shakespeare-related activities for kids. They can watch short animated films retelling some of his classic plays. There’s a video focused on the famous Globe Theater, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were originally put on. There’s a biography of Shakespeare made just for kids. And that’s just naming a few. There are literally hours and hours worth of Shakespeare-related content just waiting to be discovered.
- Follow Folger. If you’re within driving distance of Washington, DC, take the trip to the nation’s capital and visit the Folger Shakespeare Library (though you may want to wait until its renovation is complete before making the trek). This library is dedicated to all things Shakespeare, and it holds the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials. It also serves as a world-class research center and features Folger Theatre, which hosts many types of plays.
If you’re not close to DC, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s website features plenty of teaching resources that you can use in your home classroom, including digital texts of Shakespeare’s works, publications, lesson plans, and free teaching modules!
- Shakespeare quizzes and games. Check out Sporcle for some cool quizzes and games related to the Bard to test your student’s knowledge of Shakespeare.
- Movie Night! While some of the movies adapted from Shakespeare’s plays are better suited for adults, there are some films that are either directly or loosely based on his works that are perfect for kids! For younger students, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Lion King (loosely based on Hamlet), and even West Side Story (based on Romeo & Juliet…probably more appropriate for tweens and young teens) are great choices. For teens, Romeo + Juliet (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) takes the Bard’s language and transports it to modern day. There are others like 10 Things I Hate About You (starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, based on The Taming of the Shrew), O (starring Mekhi Phifer and Julia Stiles….again!, based on Othello), and Warm Bodies (a loose interpretation of Romeo & Juliet…but with zombies!) that are fun and entertaining for older kids.
William Shakespeare’s works are all around us. And while any week is a great week to learn about and enjoy the Bard’s stories and characters, Shakespeare Week is an even better time to add some Shakespeare to your homeschooling.
Do you plan on partaking in Shakespeare Week? If so, what types of activities will you use? Share in the comments below!