Today is Shakespeare’s birthday and in our Summer of reading and we have been reading Shakespeare… lots of it!!! I know, it’s a weird homeschool thing!!! When we started blogging a couple of years back we mentioned that Hood #1 was mad about Shakespeare. In the first few years of homeschooling we covered quite a bit of Shakespeare but my younger kids haven’t experienced hours of Shakespeare so this was the summer to rectify that…
To begin with we needed a Globe Theatre. Seriously, no Globe then no Shakespeare. Once our super quick theatre was in place we were able to tackle quite a few of Shakespeare’s plays week by week. We had a reading plan that we worked through week by week, ending with a movie on Fridays.
- A Quick and Easy Theatre: So folded up some newspaper for sturdiness and wrapped it in brown paper for “wood.” Then we drew and decorated and turned it into a circular theatre. Added a box from the recycling as the stage and with a handful of players and finger puppets we were good to go. Yes it is a bit wonky, but a peep through the door and you can see that the players are happy…
- An Easy Reader: This book is such a great place to start learning about Shakespeare. So we began our study of each play by reading the short story in this book first. These stories are a couple of pages long, bedtime-tale length, and really easy to understand. They give a very good picture of the story, it is a great place to start understanding the topic at hand. These stories are a fabulous introduction and you walk away with a working knowledge of the members of the cast, the main theme and what they got up to in the play.
- Chapter Books: The next step was to read the same story of the play again in these books, retold by Leon Garfield and excellent illustrations by Michael Foreman. The stories in these books are longer and have more details than the retellings in the previous book. The Leon Garfield books have a lot of wonderfully vivid word descriptions that paint a great picture of the original play. These stories are fuller and richer and provide heaps of additional insights to the play we were reading about.
- Making Comic Sense: Once we had a good understanding of each play we moved on to Marcia Williams’ brilliant series of books. I know you would think to begin with the “comic” books… but Marcia Williams is too clever for her books to be mere comic books. These books are awesome, there is a lot going on – on different levels, so quite a tricky read. It really helps to have a good understanding of the story before you dive into them. However, by the time you have read through one of her stories you will have a brilliant working knowledge of the play you are studying and you will understand how the audience felt and reacted to the play as well… That is because all the cartooning that happens in the borders, outside of the picture frames, is actually the audience of the day reacting to Shakespeare’s play, which happens on stage and in the book, all the action from the play occurs with in the cartoon frames on the stage. Of course the reaction of the audience as well as the play going on throughout the book makes for lots of interesting insights into the actual play.
- BBC Movies: Years ago the father person bought this box of dvd’s, it would be useful for school one day… He was right and we have been enjoying our story on the screen, once we had learnt about the play and mastered the theme we were ready to watch the play on the TV screen. It just makes perfect sense to watch a production once you know the story. Yes the language is not what we are used to !!! We knew the stories well by the time we watched them and found that once we watched for a few minutes we could follow along quite happily. I can warn you that there will be hours of swashbuckling sword play, and there will be extremely “polite” conversations within the family members: “Their’s and thou’s” and “Lord’s and Ladies” talking to each other in fine accents!!!
- Lots of Links: And just so that you don’t go away empty handed here are a heap of fabulous links… to help you explore Shakespeare…
- BBC Schools has a fabulous fabulous site for kids!!! Packed with details and facts… A wonderful site to explore.
- Shakespeare for Kids from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
- Playing Shakespeare is a fabulous resource for older kids to learn about plays: present and past that they have performed – really really good stuff.
- Here is a great resource for virtual tours – really pop over and tour the Virtual Globe, it is a lot of fun!!!
- Behind the scenes at the Royal Shakespeare Company for lots of lovely details on putting on a production.
- Shakespeare Reviews in 60seconds… these look like newspaper pages and full of resources for older students.
- Sparknotes have video notes – very fun!!!
- Usborne Shakespeare: If you are looking for real live books with a Shakespearean theme… then look no further than Usborne books. They are delightful!!! Gotta say that while our library does have a couple of ancient Shakespeare resources … I am so looking forward to the day that they get some lovely Shakespeare books from Usborne… I believe as a publisher they have gone the extra mile to make classic literature available to kids. And if you click over to their site and look at any one of their books you will notice a Quicklink page… take a look!!! Heaps of lovely links and resources available on the world wide web… all you have to do is visit them to look inside and find their quicklinks.
- A Shakespeare Gallery: It wouldn’t be complete, if you didn’t get to see a couple of journal pages.
In fact their is a thriving troop of actors…
Whichever way you look at it…
“A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” in full throw…
And the se7en + 1th thing:
A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream:
The Taming of the Shrew:
That’s it!!! Hope you have a great week full of fabulous literature!!!