Shakespeare’s plays can often feel like a really tricky thing for anyone to access, let alone children; however the following project ideas can really help bring the Bard to life.
Have a read of this blog post written by our tutor Emily Smith who teaches English and provides Study Support:
Try creating your own theatre using your home’s recycling waste. You can use a shoe box for the main body of the theatre and the shoe box lid for the stage coming out to the audience. Try creating a set design inside from one of Shakespeare’s plays.
You could create a mini forest, with trees made out of old felt tip pens for trunks and painted scrunched up painted paper for leaves, for the lovers and fairies in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, or a windswept heath where the three witches meet in ‘Macbeth’, you could paint the back of the box a gloomy grey and creating a sloping floor using card and crumpled up painted newspaper. You could even make them a creepy cauldron out of a painted yoghurt pot.
You could then draw out your characters on card, remembering first to check that they are the right scale to fit inside your theatre, colour them and cut them out and stick them to sticks/chopsticks so you can move them about for the scenes of your play.
In the Elizabethan period, when Shakespeare was alive and staging his plays, they didn’t have all the technology we have now to create special effects, so instead that had to rely on using other methods.
Try researching what they would have used in Shakespeare’s time to create special effects:
- What plays and scenes in plays would have needed special effects? Think not just about the action that takes places, but also the atmosphere of those plays and scenes. Would they have wanted effects for the weather as well? Wind, rain, thunder and lightning perhaps?
- Without electricity how would they have been able to light up the stage?
- Some of Shakespeare’s plays have a supernatural element to them, such as the appearance of ghosts, witches and fairies, what may they have used to help create the magical and mystical element of these characters?
Now, have a look round your home, what things could you find to make your own theatrical special effects?
Below are some ideas of items you could find that may prove helpful
- A cardboard tube and dried lentils or beans
- Saucepan lids
- Coconut Shells (if you’re lucky enough to find any, these could be used in lots of interesting ways)
- A wine glass with water in it (tip: trying dipping your finger in the water and running it quickly around the edge of the wine glass)
You may be surprised to find out that many of the words and phrases we commonly use in English today were in fact invented by Shakespeare.
Just take a look at some of the words below that Shakespeare was the first person to use!
Amazement, bloody, countless, critical, dishearten, dwindle, exposure, generous, gloomy, gnarled, hurry, lonely, majestic, monumental, radiance, road, suspicious…
He also came up with lots of phrases that we still use today, you could try finding out a few yourself.
To start you off, try first finishing these few famous sayings…
“Knock, knock, who’s…………..?
You wear your heart on your…………..
The world is your …………………
There is a method in their ………………….
All that glitters isn’t…………………………….
You may think you’ve never seen or read a Shakespeare, but in fact, in all likelihood you probably have watched a film, or read a book or seen a play which was in fact inspired by one of his plays; So many of our modern stories owe so much to Shakespeare.
Take for instance ‘The Lion King’, the narrative of the story closely resembles that of ‘Hamlet’, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Just think about it, an evil uncle killing the main character’s father, then trying to become the new king. Even Simba’s sidekicks in the film, Timon and Pumbaa represent Hamlet’s two friends in the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Trying thinking of another story you think may have been inspired by a Shakespeare play. Write out the list of characters from both the Shakespeare play and the modern story and see if you can match them up, for example in ‘The Lion King’ you’d put Simba’s name based Hamlet, Scar beside Claudius and Zazu beside Polonius. Maybe you could also write two lists, one comparing the similarities and one the differences between the two stories.
The real people behind the plays.
Many of Shakespeare’s plays were inspired by real events and people, especially his plays known as ‘The Histories’, although they weren’t always accurately portrayed in the final theatrical versions. Why do you think this might have been?
Choose one of Shakespeare’s famous characters from the list below and write a bio for them as a character, then research their real life counterpart and write a bio for them too. What did Shakespeare change about them?
Richard III- Richard III
Cleopatra- Antony and Cleopatra
Henry V-Henry V
How can The Education Hotel help?
If your child needs support why not take a look at our Online Tuition Service…