Last year’s Shakespeare Week engaged over 2 million primary school children in the life, times and works of William Shakespeare. This year’s event takes place from 16-22 March 2020. It is an annual national celebration organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, giving primary school aged children a chance to have a great first encounter with Shakespeare – his characters, stories and language.
Shakespeare Week opens the door to Shakespeare and ensures that children are given a chance to have a great first experience with one of the world’s most famous playwrights.
William Shakespeare was never lost for words, but young people in the UK are increasingly so. A national survey published in 2018 reported that more than 60% of primary and secondary school teachers were seeing a rise in pupils with an underdeveloped vocabulary.
2019 saw the introduction of Will’s Word Warriors to Shakespeare Week. The Word Warriors were recruited from all walks of life to champion Shakespeare’s Forgotten Words (the list compiled by linguist, author and academic Professor David Crystal) and promote more diverse uses of language. It is hoped that pupils will be encouraging their peers to ‘drumble’ along, or accuse them of being ‘slug-abeds’, or even telling their teachers to stop their ‘bibble-babble’!
There are also fantastic free online resources that include a Kids’ Zone on the Shakespeare Week website, which will have a series of interactive resources and videos for children to engage with online.
LGfL have a range of resources to support Shakespeare Week within the classroom.
Early Shakespeare is an innovative introduction to the Bard. SEND specialists at SEN Assist have taken two favourite Shakespeare plays (Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and transformed them into literacy exercises that prove popular with pupils across the ability spectrum.
In the same format as SEN Assist’s Fairytales, the two plays are broken down into one bite-sized sentence per scene, using the first 100 high-frequency words. This allows learners to easily follow, understand and remember the stories, and helps ensure access to the curriculum for all. Pupils can watch at their own pace, and opt to turn on or off the accompanying text and symbols. Animated characters bring each scene to life, with differentiated activities to help include all learners as well as being able to listen to the text from the plays.
BBC Shakespeare Archive
The site contains hundreds of TV and radio programmes from the BBC’s Shakespeare collection, as well as more than a thousand photos from classic Shakespeare productions and can only be accessed within school, however it is possible to search the database at home just not view the resources.
Summary of the archive content
- Online access to the BBC’s Shakespeare collection of hundreds of TV and radio programmes from the 1950s to 1989
- Includes performances, sonnets, documentaries, interviews and more, dating from the 1950s.
- Over 1000 photographs of classic Shakespeare productions and performers.
- All cleared for use in the classroom.
- Suitable for teaching of English and Drama.
- Includes all major texts across the English Literature curricula.
Cambridge School Shakespeare
The LGfL Online Shakespeare Picture Collection features production photographs from a wide range of stage and film versions, designed to support students’ exploration of interpretation, staging and performance.
Fully differentiated for use with students aged from 11 to 19, each play includes over 100 pages of editable, printable support material including lesson ideas, worksheets and production reviews. These include teacher notes (above) so that teachers can structure the use of the resource within the classroom.
BusyThings also have a range of resources linked to Shakespeare for you to use in the classroom these include labelling the Globe and completing a timeline alongside fact files and exercises based on Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. You can find all the resources linked to Shakespeare by using the search tool within BusyThings.
Or why not use one of the many tools within j2eTool Suite, children could use spotlight to create their own short animation of part of a play or they could use j2e5 or j2office to create their own Shakespeare insults or to create a presentation on the life of William Shakespeare.
The Tudors in London resource can also be used where you can find out more about the Globe Theatre.
Teachers can also use the brilliant Teach Shakespeare website from Shakespeare’s Globe which has hundreds of free learning resources including audio files, video, lesson plans and exam revision lesson plans.
Adobe Spark resources are perfect for introducing primary school students to Shakespeare’s plays. Engage your students as they create beautiful graphics, web pages, social posts and video stories in minutes with Adobe Spark.
There are also a series of suggestions which will help you make the best use of your school’s LGfL Creative Cloud Licences. If you have yet to claim these for your school, please visit adobe.lgfl.net (towards the bottom of the page you will see a “claim your free Adobe licences” button).
- imagined text messages
- Shakespeare’s Diary Room
- Blesseth him that gif
- Radio Shakespeare
- Shakespeare in the hot seat.
The Shakespeare Zone from The Royal Shakespeare Company gives you loads of information about Shakespeare’s plays. You’ll find key facts, key scenes, pictures from past productions, videos of actors and directors working on and performing the plays AND find out about all the main characters and how they relate to each other. Whether you want to know a little or a lot, this site has the information you need.
The BBC site has a huge range of resources for pupils, for primary pupils there are a range of radio plays available on school radio, you can watch Shakespeare shorts, or find out more via quizzes on the Cbeebies site. There are also a range of resources for Secondary school pupils including those from BBC Bitesize and a Secondary Shakespeare playlist you can see the collection of resources here.
Original Post written by Dawn Hallybone edited for 2020 by Laura Smith.