William Shakespeare made huge contributions to the world of theater as well as to the English language. Not only did he write over 37 plays plus many poems, he also added over 1700 words to the English language.
Most people think of Shakespeare as something you learn in high school, but this unit study makes him accessible to elementary aged children. They will learn all about his plays, some English history, and will be inspired to put on their own production.
Grab the books, sign-up to receive the FREE printable unit study and then explore the other resources below!
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The Books about William Shakespeare
The William Shakespeare unit study is based upon the books Who Was William Shakespeare? and Magic Tree House: Stage Fright on a Summer Night.
What we know about Shakespeare’s personal life is mostly limited to documentations of birth, marriage, and death records. However, we can learn a lot about him from all of the plays he wrote! Who Was William Shakespeare? shares what is known from the historical record and details many of his plays. It connects these plays to the culture and events of that time. This is a great read aloud for elementary ages.
The Magic Tree House book, Stage Fright on a Summer Night, allows your children to experience what it would have been like to be in Shakespeare’s theater and act in one of his plays. While this book is most appropriate for ages 5-8, older children will also benefit from the story.
The William Shakespeare FREE Printable Unit Study
The printable unit study includes the following:
Notebooking pages about Shakespeare’s life.
A timeline activity to chart his life and work.
Famous Quotes Copy Work: Practice printing or cursive while copying famous lines from some of Shakespeare’s plays.
Vocabulary pages: Look up the definitions to some of the words that Shakespeare added to the English language and write sentences about them. Then practice matching them to their definitions, synonyms or antonyms.
Writing prompt: Encourages children to write their own play. More ideas to help them are included in the post below.
Design a Coat of Arms: Shakespeare helped his father apply for a coat of arms for their family. Now your children can design one for your family.
Historical Time Period of Shakespeare
Shakespeare (1564-1616) technically lived in the Renaissance period in Europe, which began roughly around 1400 and continued through the 1600s. However, since the Renaissance arrived late to England and Shakespeare grew up in a less urban area, his upbringing reflected medieval beliefs. His move to London as a young man, introduced him to the Renaissance.
Therefore, his plays reflect both medieval culture and that of the Renaissance. This makes Shakespeare and his plays interesting in a study of history as you move from one period to the next. Here is a video about the Middle Ages to give your children background to this time period. (5 minutes).
Learn more about the Middle Ages at Ducksters.
Here is a video about the Renaissance to give your children background to this time period. (5 minutes).
Learn more about the Renaissance at Ducksters.
Also check out these other related books:
Videos about Shakespeare
This video is ‘narrated’ by Shakespeare and gives an overview of his life. (8 min.)
This video is good for older children (8 minutes)
Learn more about Shakespeare at Ducksters.
Visit London today with Travel Kids (7 minutes)
Visit the Globe Theater. The original theater, which burned in 1613, was built and used by Shakespeare’s theater group. (3 minutes)
Read Shakespeare’s Plays
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and many sonnets and poems. (Note: A sonnet is a poem with 14 lines.) They initially seem hard to understand since they are written in Early Modern English.
However, many of his writings have been adapted especially for children. This collection is beautifully illustrated and contains short adaptations of 12 of his plays:
If you would like to go deep in teaching your children Shakespeare, this book lays out a step-by-step plan.
Watch a Shakespearean Movie
Gnomeo and Juliet is a great way to introduce children to one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays:
Most other film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays are appropriate for ages 14 and up.
Put On Your Own Play
In the printable part of the unit study, there is a page to plan out a play. Your kids can make this as simple or complex as they can handle. They could create their own play from scratch or take a favorite book and adapt it into a play.
Here is a great guide from Broadway World to put on a play at your home: How to Put on Shows at Home with Your Family.
Here are some links to sample scripts so your children can see what a script looks like or even use one of them to put on a play!
You may also be able to find scripts at your library or you might want to check out this Reader’s Theater book:
What other resources have you used to learn about Shakespeare? Please share below!!
Learn about Queen Elizabeth I who reigned England during Shakespeare’s time:
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