Sunday, February 10, 2013

For the Love of Shakespeare

From the first time I read it (at about 16), I have always loved Shakespeare.  I love the language, I love the challenge of understanding what is going on, what the words mean, and his style of bringing the characters and plot to life.

In fact, Poppa gave me the complete works of Shakespeare as a gift early in our courtship. I never imagined I could start teaching Shakespeare to a child in first grade, but I have found that it is a joy for them; as well as, me.

At first, I was a little leery about teaching Shakespeare in all of its complexity and adult themes.  Then I read Why Shakespeare for Christian Students. It shed light on aspects of the plays that I had not considered.

Grades 1-3
When I read Shakespeare to kids in grades 1-3, we use Lamb’s and Nesbit’s versions of the plays. Before I read, I have the child make puppets of the main characters. While reading, we use the puppets to tell the story. After we are finished, the child glues the characters onto his/her favorite scene.

There are cartoon videos of some of Shakespeare plays that are great for young kids. They use the original language and are in animated form.

Grades 4-8
For kids in fourth through eighth grade, I read Shakespeare after All before reading the play. I enjoy the background information on the play and the explanations of themes. It opens my eyes to things I might not have noticed and makes it possible for me to introduce my child to those concepts.

I break the readings into chunks of 3-4 scenes to be read weekly. I spread the play over 12 weeks. I read the sections and create an introduction for each scene. I tell them about each scene before I read it. After each reading, the child narrates to me orally. Then I tell about anything that stood out to me.

I generally try to find movies of the plays that are true to the time period dress and use language of the original work.

When children are in grades 9-12, they should read the play themselves. I read Shakespeare after All and break the readings into chunks of 3-4 scenes to be read weekly over 12 weeks. I read the sections and create an introduction for each scene. I tell them about the reading selection before he/she reads it. After each reading, the child does a written narration.

This is a great age to watch modern translations of movies.

If you don't enjoy Shakespeare, you should give it a try. It has really been worth it for us.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,



Phyllis said...

This is a wonderful post. I love the way you gently but consistently offer Shakespeare. Shakespeare is like an oasis in a desert if you can give it in a way the person can understand. It is so full and rich.

Bethany said...

Thanks. I think so too! I think what makes it so difficult for folks is that their first exposure to it is as teens. It is like jumping into a foreign language in a way. When we share it with kids early, they are able to understand more and grow with it.

Leslie said...

I LOVE these ideas! We have read a little too, but not enough yet. I like the puppet idea a lot! Usborne had a book on Shakespeare that we read last year that was an easy reader. And simple Romeo and Juliet that is cute.

Bethany said...

I'll have to check those ideas out. :)

Meg said...

Ooh. I adore Shakespeare and the puppets sound like a great idea.

Bethany said...

It has really made a difference in the way my kids interpret what's happening!

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