Shakespeare for Kids
Don't wait until high school literature to enjoy Shakespeare's plays.
Unit Study and Projects on Shakespeare for Kids
Is Shakespeare for kids and teens, or just for scholars? Consider that Shakespeare intended his plays to be watched
He probably never imagined they would be assigned as an academic exercise somewhat akin to literary torture.
Admittedly, there is enough philosophy in Shakespeare's writings to merit literary analysis. However, like all good literature, it should be enjoyed first.
You can read Shakespeare for kids to enjoy as well as teens and adults. Kids as young as 3rd and 4th grade can participate in the Shakespeare Unit Study described below.
Shakespeare Unit Study
Here is a simple structure that we used for several years for an annual Shakespeare Unit Study.
(Of course, you can do your Shakespeare study any time of the year.)
FIRST, choose one of the many Shakespeare plays. Try starting with a familiar commedy.
SECOND, read a short, simple synopsis of the play. You can use one of the Shakespeare story books like we have listed below, or simply do an on-line search.
THIRD, watch the play. This can be a live performance, or more likely, a video from the library or on-line.
FOURTH, read the play. You can get several books and read it together taking parts.
FIFTH, watch a different version of the same play.
Ideas for Shakespeare Projects
A Little Drama, Please
Perform one part of a Shakespeare play with at least one other actor.
Use only a few props. They didn't have many at the Globe Theatre.
Video your performance. Post it on Facebook or You Tube - if you are brave and talented. Perhaps a new career in acting awaits you.
Translate a part of a Shakespeare play from Elizabethean English to modern English.
Hey, like you could even talk in the vernacular - like street talk, ya know.
Elizabethean English Rules
Write a favorite scene from a modern-day movie as a play. Don't forget the list of characters at the front, the stage directions, and all the speaking parts.
Write it in the language of the Elizabethean era.
"O Batman, Batman, wherefore art thou Batman."
Hmmm, just doesn't sound as good as "Romeo," does it?
Look up the dimensions of the Globe Theatre. Walk out the area of the stage and audience in your neighborhood.
You might also want to draw blueprints or construct a model of the famous theatre.
Compare Disney and Shakespeare
I'm guessing most people would think of Disney as the antithesis of Shakespeare. Not necessarily.
Many of the plays Shakespeare wrote had older versions that were well known before he wrote his own version. Consider a well known tale such as Cinderella or Snow White. There are many versions of these stories, some of them quite old.
However, once Walt Disney studios makes a story into a movie, it often becomes the "official" version in the public mind.
Many of Shakespeare's plays had other versions: some earlier and some later than his renditions. What other versions are there of one of the plays you are studying? How did Shakespeare change the play?
Fairy Tales Retold
Modify a common story like The Three Little Pigs
. Retell the story, but weave contemporary issues into your version.
For instance, you could include current political leaders, celebrities in the news, or current legislation being debated. How much of your version would make sense to your descendants five hundred years from now?
Shakespeare and the Gallup Polls
Alter a Shakespeare play to include at least three current events.
Maybe the Montagues and Capulets could fight over the hottest issues in the latest presidential debate.
A tragedy is defined as a bad outcome caused by a character flaw in the protagonist (good guy, or main character.) Write a paper explaining the character flaw and the tragic outcome.
Let the Artist Speak
Illustrate the climax of a play using any artistic media. Try to capture the emotion as well as the details.
A Person In Time
Make a timeline of Shakespeare's life with at least five personal events. Also include at least three social/political events that occured in the same era.
Shakespeare Resources for Kids
Ten Tales from Shakespeare
By Charles Lamb
4th - 6th Grade
These stories were adapted from Shakespeare plays by Charles and Mary Lamb in the 1800's to bring the stories to life to the children of their generation. This book is now a classic of itself
Shakespeare Stories for Young Readers
By Edit Nesbit
Another collection of Shakespeare tales particularly written for children. Nesbit wrote 12 of the most popular plays as short stories filled with adventure, tragedy, and humor. An easy introduction to the Shakespeare plays that can be enjoyed prior to embarking on the original editions.
Great Characters From Shakespeare PAPERDOLLS
By Tom Tierney
Another out of the box way for your youngsters to enjoy the Shakespeare plays and become aquainted with the characters. Of course any paper-doll lovers in your family will love to play with these dolls and their historical era costumes. But even your less doll-loving kids can use the paperdolls to re-enact the plays for the family.
Shakespeare: A Book of Quotations
By Wm Shakespeare
Just what you need when you are trying to remember the perfect Shakespeare quote! Actually, this book comes in handy for those students who like to write literary analysis (granted, not everybody does.) Use a Shakespeare quote to illustrate a point made by a more modern writer.
Who's Who In Shakespeare
By Francis Stokes
Want to keep all those Shakespeare characters straight in your mind? Need a quick refresher? Here's a dictionary of characters and proper names in the Shakespeare plays.