When I was in middle school, I was placed in a supplemental class called AVID. The goal of the class was to help teach quick-witted kids how to find key ideas in books and lectures, take notes, learn to present information and provide a rich learning environment for kids whose minds seemed to always want more. I hated keeping my binder in the one organized format they wanted us to use, it didn’t work for how my mind worked. I hated oral presentations, I am shy and turned red in front of everyone ever time.
I LOVED the play studies and poetry.
The average person cringes when they hear the name, Shakespeare. The old English, the complex storylines, the numerous characters, and long scripts. Often times it has been the same two plays that people have dealt with over and over again until they were sick of them. Often times, these plays were not fully read or shown to students but were just snippets of them. Shakespeare is not an easy writer to work into lessons with kiddos but it is one that is more tolerable if they get the full picture. Shakespeare’s plays are difficult sometimes to expose our children to.
It is doable though.
The first Shakespeare play I went to with my class was Midsummer Night’s Dream. I remember sitting in the audience totally transfixed on the story which we had been reading in class together. I was so excited about the play afterward I couldn’t stop talking about it. This is what I wanted to give my children.
The past few months I have been doing just that. First, I picked up a copy of Midsummer Night’s Dream from our library. The copy they had was a Shakespeare Made Easy copy which had the original old English on the left side of a page and the modern “translation” on the right. We slowly read through a scene or two at a time, looking over at the translation page when they didn’t understand what was being said and giggling at the ridiculousness of the play. Reading it was a little difficult and one of my boys dragged his feet pretty badly about it, but while we were reading he was the one asking the questions and wanting to keep reading. After we returned the book to the library, we did some discussion on what the play was about but not a lot. I wanted them to dwell on what they remembered.
Next, I gave them a little break from Shakspeare. For about two weeks, I did not aim to bring up anything Shakespeare. My kiddos worked some of the scenes into their playtime on their own but I did not do any lessons on him. Again, I just let it sink in. Then today, I blew their minds. I had been on youtube while they were out playing that afternoon and looked up Midsummer Night’s Dream plays. What I found was a well done and well-recorded play done in old English. I played that 2-hour recording for the kids with dinner.
They were Transfixed
Even my youngest asked me to pause the play when he ran to get something to drink. None of them could look away and time after time they busted out laughing. They finished dinner and sprawled out on the couch and floor, completely engulfed by the story. What they had read in the book was making more sense. Events that were a little confusing have now become their favorite ones.
When the play ended, they couldn’t stop talking about it!
I plan to show them one more version of the play next week, it is one that is done in modern English. Then we can compare the book to the two plays and the plays to just each other. The fun part though is I plan to have them pick a scene to re-enact and record. I want to help them make inexpensive costumes and do some light stage makeup with them. This will really cement their learning and love for Shakespeare.
Shakespeare doesn’t have to be some scary topic, even if you have littles, they have well written Shakespeare for kids books you can use. My youngest happens to have just turned 10 this past month and he enjoyed Shakespeare. You and your kiddos can too. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant unit study either. Just do a little here and a little there. Shakespeare also has sonnets. Check for content first, maybe only read a stanza or two, but it will get your kids used to how he writes, how he speaks.
Just have fun with it. The rest will fall into place.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have down time, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.