A Relaxed Approach to Studying Shakespeare

A relaxed homeschooling approach to studying Shakespeare for third and fourth graders | TooCoolforHomeschool.com

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We are part of a great homeschool club that meets every month to discuss chapters from the Story of the World history books by Susan Wise Bauer. Last month, our focus was on Shakespeare.

I’m not really a big believer in making 9-year-olds read Shakespeare plays in their original form. As an adult, I have trouble making my way through them. So although we read snippets from plays here and there, that was not the emphasis of our homeschool studies.

So what did we do?

First, we read the relevant chapter in The Story of the World: Middle Ages, Vol. 2.

Second, we participated in our Story of the World club and watched the kids do their own reenactments of famous Shakespeare lines. We also made a couple of Shakespeare-inspired crafts, including a ruffled collar made from coffee filters.

Third,  we read stories derived from Shakespeare’s plays. I found a great book at a used book sale that presents his plays in an engaging and child-friendly way – Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.

Fourth, we listened to some of Jim Weiss’s retellings of Shakespeare’s plays. He is an entertaining storyteller, and we always look to see if he has a recording that covers whichever topic we happen to be studying.

Fifth, we took a tour of Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA. It is the only replica in the world of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. It was a fantastic tour and the guides were very informative and great with the kids.

Sixth, we saw an actual Shakespeare play at the theater! One of the plays we read about in Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare was The Tempest and my son loved it. And it just so happened to be playing at Blackfriars Theater! I highly recommend this theater. Their production of The Tempest was funny, dramatic and musical. I thought for sure that my ADHD 9-year-old would be out of there by the intermission but he begged to stay! The performers played music before the play and during intermission, and the music was a interesting mix of modern popular and Renaissance-era tunes. Ariel even played a banjo during the play.

A relaxed homeschooling approach to studying Shakespeare for third and fourth graders - Blackfriars Playhouse | TooCoolforHomeschool.com

Although we did a lot of activities, they were all fun and engaging. I didn’t hear a word of complaint from my son, and in fact, he continues to ask for me to read from the Illustrated Tales from Shakespeare book from time to time.

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