Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shakespeare/Renaissance Unit Schedule and Lesson Plan

I've been wanting to have a unit on Shakespeare for a long time. My parents took me to Shakespeare plays from the time I was about five years old, so I think I just got a taste for his language early, and I have only learned to love and appreciate his writing more as I've gotten older. I'm certainly not an expert on Shakespeare (I know almost nothing about most of the history plays, or the more obscure plays) but I just love his work and I knew I could share that, at least, with the children.

During our Architecture Unit we had spent some time on the Renaissance, and we'd touched on it during our Solar System Unit too, so we were familiar with some of the main accomplishments and events of that time period. But of course, there is always so much more to learn. I went a little more in depth for this unit–we spent the first week or so talking about the Renaissance; main philosophies and new inventions, and some other famous people (Galileo, Queen Elizabeth, etc)–and then we learned more specifically about Shakespeare's life and work. We did some language study on things like rhyme schemes and wordplay, and then ended by just going through several of my favorite plays in more depth. The plays we covered were:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Twelfth Night (my favorite---I especially love this movie version)
Much Ado about Nothing
The Tempest
Romeo and Juliet
(by the way, for our Romeo and Juliet day we also watched some of Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, which is my favorite ballet and some of my favorite music ever. We saw it in Moscow when we were there last year and it was amazing, but I've seen some amazing productions here too. It's gorgeous in every way. Here's a clip of one of the fight scenes, but you can find other parts, and even the whole ballet, online. Totally worth watching, if you like that sort of thing).

We didn't do King Lear, which I also really like, or Othello, which is perhaps my favorite of all the tragedies–well, maybe except Hamlet. We just didn't have time. But we'll definitely revisit those, and some other comedies, sometime. Othello is probably better for older children anyway.

The Bruce Coville books were probably our favorite Shakespeare picture books---lovely pictures, a taste of real Shakespearean language, and just the right amount of detail. There are lots of good Shakespeare adaptations for children, though. We especially liked this one.

We found several of these animated Shakespeare DVDs at the library and enjoyed them. They are about 25-minute long adaptations of the stories, using mostly actual lines from the plays. Some are better done than others.

This is a really funny chart, and the children liked referring to it after reading the tragedies.

They liked this, too.

This was an interesting clip about how Shakespeare's English would have sounded.

Also interesting–a list of common Elizabethan names.

We watched this video from the library because it had the Veggies doing a Hamlet-like play called "Omelet." Some really funny lines. :)

Oh! And let's not forget my favorite video, this one with Patrick Stewart. The children laughed and laughed.

And here is my Shakespeare Pinterest board.

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