Below, I’ve added several activities that I’ve used in my classroom while exploring Shakespeare. Some of the activities include links to accompanying .PDF files. If you have photos and lessons you’d like to share from your classroom, please contact me!
1. CHARACTER STUDY – PART A – GUESSING GAME
When: After your students are familiar with one or more of Shakespeare’s plays.
Prep: Choose a variety of characters from the plays you have studied with your students. Write the name of each character on the back of an index card. Make sure you have the same amount of characters as students in your classroom.
Activity: Assign each student a character. Have them then write three or more facts about their character on the back of the index card. . They can do this independently, or by brainstorming with a partner or table group. After they have done so, recollect the cards. Then reassign each character by paper clipping the character card to the back of each student’s shirt. Their next task is to give each other clues about their character until they are able to correctly identify the character.
2. CHARACTER STUDY – PART B – ART PROJECT
When: After your students have completed the guessing game or are fairly familiar with the characters involved.
Prep: Gather enough sheets of cardstock so that each of your students has a piece that is at least 8.5 x 11 – but, the bigger the better. Each piece of cardstock needs to sharply folded in half the long way and then opened flat.
Activity: Using their assigned character from the guessing game, students will create a three-dimensional portrait. First using pencil, they should draw their character standing in the center of their piece of cardstock. The figure should be centered on the fold (this is a great opportunity to talk about symmetry). After they draw their figure and add detail, they can outline it with a black felt-tip marker. Next they add colored pencils, pens or crayons. When their character portrait is done, student cut them out and re-fold the cardstock so their character can stand. Most characters with skirts will stand very well on their own. If they The male characters should be drawn standing on a mound of earth or ground so they will have a strong base.
3. CHARACTER PUPPET SHOW
When: After your student have created their 3D character portraits.
Prep: Attach a large popsicle stick to each character with tape. Choose scenes and divide your students into groups according to the scene.
Activity: Students read over their scenes and practice using their characters as puppets. Scenes are performed for the rest of the class. Some students may need to be on more than one scene. This activity would also work well as an extra project for interested students.
4. SONNET or POEM MEMORIZATION
When: Whenever you would like. I like to present this project while studying Romeo and Juliet .
Prep: Make a large poster of each sonnet or poem you are going to present.
Activity: Read the sonnet or poem aloud to the class. Have your students work together to debate and determine the meaning. Announce an opportunity for each student to memorize and perform for the class.
5. STORY COMPARISON – VEN DIAGRAM
When: After your students are familiar with two or more of Shakespeare’s plays.
Prep: Create and photocopy a blank ven diagram featuring your chosen plays. It’s best to use legal paper (8.5 x 14) for a two play comparison and ledger (11 x 17) for a three play comparison. You need to have one for each student and one rough draft version for each team. Also, make sure your primary colored pencils are well sharpened.
Activity: Review with your students how ven diagrams work. Then have your students work in teams to fill out their ideas on the team’s rough draft version. As a class share ideas and complete a class version that combines every team’s ideas. Student can follow along and complete their own final version in pencil. The pencil can then be written over with felt-tipped marker. A nice finishing touch is to pick enough primary colors to color in each play’s circle. The overlapping sections will create a new color.
6. PASSAGE ILLUSTRATION
When: After your students have learned about one specific play.
Prep: Choose four to six passages from the original version of the play you have just studied. Choose lines of memorable characters and from memorable parts. Type up each passage and remember to reference the character and the act and scene.
Activity: Read the passages to your students. Have them guess discuss what they understand and guess which character says the line. Take teachable moments to point out Shakespeare’s use of imagery and wordplay. After you have reviewed all the passages, have your students pick a passage to illustrate. After their illustration is complete, mount the typed passages under the illustration.
7. SHAKESPEARE TIMELINE
When: Whenever you’d like. I like to present this project before exploring any of the plays.
Prep: Use a timeline of Shakespeare’s life and choose about 12 different years when important or relevant things happened. Write the year on a large index card. Choose a variety of websites that provide information about Shakespeare and his life and bookmark them in the browsers of your students’ computers. Gather large pieces of paper (the same number as dates), rulers, and coloring supplies. I also like to put my students in groups of two or three, matching them appropriately for the assignment.
Activity: Put your students into their work groups and assign each work group their date. The work groups will then use the index card and the pre-selected websites to take notes about what happened during that year of Shakespeare’s life. They will then put their information in sentence form and write it at the bottom of their timeline piece. To finish they will illustrate their year. When every work group is has their part of the timeline completed they can then present them to the rest of the class. Timeline pieces can be displayed in order to create one long timeline of the major events in Shakespeare’s life.
ORIGINALS FOR STORYLINE TEACHERS