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Shakespeare for Elem Age


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My goal for teaching Shakespeare in the grammar stage has been not so much to teach it as to have the children loving Shakespeare. What we did was just read a bunch of Shakespeare (children's adaptations), and then I just re-read their favorites, over and over again. And it worked. They just love Shakespeare.


Their favorites are Twelfth Night and Midsummer Night's Dream. The jury was out on Hamlet until they had a chance to do some theater work based on Hamlet this summer: a spoof of sorts entitled "Hamlet and Eggs".


I've got my eyes open for some small summer stock productions of Shakespeare near me that we could go see, but so far, I haven't found anything.


Anyway... HTH

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We spent some fun time on Shakespeare this summer. Read some books about Shakespeare and the Globe theater. Did some hands on activities. In preparation for some local performances in the park we read summaries of the plays and watched movie versions or adaptations. My children all enjoyed The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night. I feel like they had an excellent introduction to Shakespeare by keeping it light and focused on the experience not the nuts and bolts.

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I introduced Shakespeare to dd when she was in 2nd grade doing Med/Ren history. We used the Bruce Colville picture books (excellent) and a book about Romeo and Juliet that a classroom teacher had her kids help her write--I'll see if I can find it.


Ah, here it is--and there might be more in the series.


We also have a copy of Lamb's around here, but she didn't get into it and I've just sort of left it lying around. Sometimes she picks it up, but doesn't report back.


She was going to read Witch of Blackbird Pond but didn't this year (I thought we'd wait another year)--Kit briefly mentions The Tempest to her friend, John, who is amazed she can read; it might kindle dd's interest. Perhaps you could look for other books where the characters read Shakespeare.


Shakespeare Stealer is another good fiction book set in the time period.

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I'm hoping to get a super shortened production together in the spring with our elementary age group. Anyone have any experience with children's condensed versions and have one you like. I'm thinking we'll do The Tempest.


And I'm (gulp) taking my kids to the Free for All of Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Theater here this weekend. We have second row center seats so I'm hoping we make it through and that the fact that it's a full length affair won't kill their interest. I mean, it'll look cool and be neat to be in the big fancy theater if nothing else.

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My daughter liked the Jim Weiss story versions of Shakespeare when she was younger, then the Colville books. When she was nine we won tickets to a Shakespeare play and she's never looked back!


Shakespeare For Kids has some engaging activities and crafts.


Somewhere I've seen a little plastic box of magnetized Shakespearean Poetry words to stick on your refrigerator and make into silly sentences or lines of verse.


Once they have a few plays (live or storybook version) under their belts, it's fun to look for references to Shakespeare in popular culture. Usually you can find quotes of famous lines in magazines, on TV, billboards, etc. over the course of a couple of weeks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had a Shakespeare summer, as well. We were blessed to travel to Ashland, OR to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The older kids & I saw Merchant, Hamlet, Henry IV & Twelfth Night. Next summer, the younger dds will get to watch. Pics from the trip on blog here.


In Ashland, the girls bought tons of books and an action-figure of WS. :)


As far as teaching the younger dds, I first introduce the plays by watching BBC Animated Shakespeare on youtube. We read different versions of the student-level books. We read sections of the original plays together. We rent the full length movie from Netflix. Faves so far: Twelfth Night, R & J (1972 version), Hamlet, Macbeth, Midsummer's.


My girls love WS. He's a big part of our program here -- and a household name.


Note: The 1972 R & J has brief nudity (R's backside). Just fast forward the part after they get married. :)

Edited by Beth in SW WA
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We read:






My dd loved them. We're going to read A Midsummer Night's Dream this year, I mean the complete original. She's excited about it, and this is not a kid who gets excited about literature and poetry!

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  • 1 year later...

I have just gotten a book called Shakespeare around the Globe for my young children.


Has anyone read the TOG2 suggested book called Shakespeare for children, with translations of his works by E. Nesbith??


Our HS group with CC put on The Taming of The Shrew last year in a Theatre that was generous to give a huge discount and keep props up from A Christmas Carol ( buildings) and it was a huge success!!! I loved it, but only took our 2 older children.


We have on VHS A MidSummer Night's Dream and it is hilarious!


Our library has some BBC theatre plays we have also watched.


I have also read the Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare in the past and plan on using it this year.


Folger's Shakespeare is also recommended in TOG2 and I may get those.


I have some Dover books too, and need to get them altogether and decide.


Any input is welcome. Especially on Folger's for older and Nesbith's for younger.




PS: We have lousy internet here in the stix so Youtbube and streaming are limited. I may take my laptop to BAM soon and try to download some of the recommendations. Thanks!

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Absolutely start with it for enjoyment rather than "study." That's been my approach to all of the "big" classics so far (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dante, Homer, things like Beowulf, etc)--presenting them as they were originally intended--as entertainment. There's time to get down to study later on. The actors help make the context of the language so much more accessible than reading it. We're just now coming up on Shakespeare in history again, and I'm contemplating reading one of the plays with her this time now that she's seen them several times.


My daughter first fell in love with "Kiss Me Kate" while on vacation at age 5. We've done the Jim Weiss cds to get the stories and watched the animated/puppet versions referenced above (do note that they get a lot more graphic with the marriage bed in Romeo and Juliet than I would have expected from a cartoon aimed at children). Our favorites are the Kenneth Branagh and the Kevin Klein movies of the comedies, with "Midsummer Night's Dream" as the primary favorite. We did wait until this year for "Henry V" and the "Hamlet" with David Tennant (she loves "Dr. Who," so that was a plus).

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We have been going to Shakespeare in the park productions in the city nearest where we live each summer. I guess not all cities have that. Many times the productions have not been spectacular by comparison with say Ashland or New York City offerings, but they are kid friendly--even to toddlers-- and lots of fun, and not too expensive. And my son has sometimes liked them enough to want to go every weekend it is available, thankfully it was not at a high price venue.


More recently we have seen movie versions of some of the plays. Favorites are Kenneth Branagh productions -- all we've seen so far, including Hamlet, Henry V, and Much Ado About Nothing (I personally am less taken with one that is set in Japan, but son loves it too)--and Midsummer Nights' Dream with Kevin Kline as Bottom.


After seeing productions we have done some reading of the plays (regular edition, not anything special or shortened for kids), and before going to park we have usually read at least a synopsis of the story line so that we can follow what is going on--especially if it was one I was not familiar with.


I think Shakespeare was intended as theater and works best introduced as such, and the more it is fun and grand the better I think it works. Our least favorite thing was a very dry rendition that I thought would be superb (with Sir ____ and Dame ____ in leading roles), but turned out to be just boring. Luckily we'd seen a more exciting version and could discuss the difference.


If I were trying to stage something I would start with the full play and start cutting on my own (and would make that part of the learning for the child or children involved)...but then, I was a theater major and love that sort of thing.

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