Need Guidance with Shakespeare, please

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  • missceegee

    I know I asked this a while back, but I can’t find that post and would love some guidance from those of you who are well versed in Shakespeare. 

    I have a 9yo, 6yo, 3yo & 8 month old, so this pertains to the 9 & 6 year olds, obviously Wink. I have the following resources at hand and would love help devising a plan for the next few years on how to best implement these.

    • E. Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (book and audio versions)
    • Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (book, willing to buy audio if I find it and it’s helpful)
    • Shakespeare for Dummies (just received, but haven’t looked at in depth yet)
    • Shakespeare for the Ears (from Homeschool Radio Shows, again, I just received and haven’t used yet.)

    I’ve heard about the following and am willing to locate – borrow, rent or buy, if helpful.

    • Animated Shakespeare DVDs
    • Ambrose/BBC Shakespeare Plays on DVD
    • No Fear Shakespeare (though, I think I read a warning about this one)
    • Brightest Invention of Heaven (this may not be the exact title)

    Can anyone with experience help with mapping out a plan for the next couple of years – which plays, which resources, how frequently, etc. My brain is just not putting this one together. 

    I appreciate any help in advance.



    Sonya Shafer

    Just as one idea, here’s what we do. I select a play that is appropriate for the children’s ages so we can “study” it all together as a Family. Then I take one Term during the year to include a Shakespeare lesson time once a week.

    1. During our weekly lesson time we first read the play from Lamb or Nesbit. Sometimes this takes two or three lesson times, depending on the length or how complicated the play is. This most recent time we created a list of characters as we read, to help us keep them all straight once we got to #2.
    2. When we finished reading the narrative, we started reading aloud the play itself. We would usually do one or two scenes each lesson time, and we would assign parts for the reading. When the children were younger, I selected only a couple of portions of the play to read aloud. This most recent time, we read the whole thing. This step took several lesson times.
    3. When we finished reading the play, we set aside an extended lesson time to watch the Ambrose version of the play on DVD. I brought our script of the play along so we could compare as desired. We remarked several times that it made a lot of difference once we could see who was saying what to whom, rather than just reading the lines in our living room!

    That’s it. We did Comedy of Errors last Term and it took fewer than the twelve weeks; however, we had longer lessons because my children are older than yours.

    Oh, one more tidbit. I started keeping a favorite quotes journal (actually, computer document Wink), because I found myself commenting on some of the lines as we were reading and wanting to remember them. I think that personal enthusiasm made an impression. 


    I like Sonya’s plan.  We do much the same thing, although we don’t always find a video version we like.  First plays for us were ones like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing.  The No Fear guides can be good–there are sections in all of these plays that we personally skipped over at first.  When we got to a speech I’d blacked a lot out of, we would just skip that one.  🙂  If you aren’t sure you can identify when Shakespeare was being bawdy (the language CAN be hard to untangle at times) then a tool like  No Fear can be very useful–because they will most certainly point it out so that you cannot miss it.  🙂 


    I was about to ask which plays were good to start out with – thanks for anticipating that question!  Can anyone recommend any movie versions of those that Michelle listed that are particularly good, or should be avoided?  And how about a few good child friendly (i.e. not too boring) documentaries or video biographies of Shakespeare?  I hope to get Netflix this fall so maybe we can watch some – there is not much available at my library, although I could request some from interlibrary loan.

    I got a book at the library this week that I liked very much – it was in the juvenile section but maybe better for me than the kids, although the illustrations are stunning.

    Shakespeare:  His Work and His World by Michael Rosen and Robert Ingpen

    It is a “big picture” kind of book, with maps and timelines and putting a lot of lines from Shakespeare into the context of his time and his (possible) experiences. 


    Thank you, ladies, for your feedback. I appreciate your wisdom and help in figuring out how to add Shakespeare to our studies. I like the ideas and will get the No Fear Shakespeare for my use in figuring out any unsavory parts I might miss.



    can someone tell me if this link is the whole thing?





    It agrees with the text in my book–it’s not the whole play obviously but it is the whole Lamb story.


    thanks Michelle 🙂

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