I received the print version of this book (though I previously purchased the Kindle version) and I was compensated for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own and this post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!
What do you think of when you hear about Shakespeare? Though many of us are familiar with his plays, my guess is we might find the language intimidating and consider it pretty sophisticated. Certainly, it would be tough to teach to children. In high school, I took a whole semester my senior year on Shakespeare. It was a great time! But, it took time to understand. We teach Shakespeare in high school literature in our homeschool as well, but teaching it to all of our kids was a new concept for us. It’s been lovely! Today’s post Teaching Shakespeare to Multiple Ages.
Why Teach Children Shakespeare
- Shakespeare Invented Many of Our Words– This playwright invented something like 1,000 words that we still use today. For that alone he is worth reading and knowing!
- Cultural References– Writers and artists since Shakespeare’s time have borrowed from him and there are references to his work wherever you look.
- Helps with Other Classic Literature– Given that authors were inspired by Shakespeare, knowing his work will help you and your students to interpret and understand classic literature. So, it’s a great tool!
- Immerses Your Student in Excellent Literature– Taking the time to read it and memorize it means you are spending time with excellent literature and that is not wasted time.
- It Makes You Smarter!– This was as good a reason as any. In a nutshell, you become more well read in a classic piece of history and literature. Given Shakespeare’s influence on just about every form of art and literature that came after him, it makes you smarter for knowing his work.
Teaching Shakespeare to Multiple Ages
While our homeschool spread only spans six and a half years or so, that still represents a significant difference in grade, skills, and interests. We have been enjoying Shakespeare just about every morning this quarter with our 12th, 10th, 8th, and 5th graders and it’s been going well! Here are a few tips and some of our successful ideas:
- Make it Part of Your Day’s Start– At our house, we start each day together by having a morning meeting. This is the part of the day when all of our kids, regardless of their age, are together for reading aloud, announcements, and any other learning adventures we do together. Like Shakespeare!
- Read from How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare– While this book is written to parents, I read it out loud to my kids each morning as we work on the lines. The author explains the lines and gives us all a context for what’s happening.
- Read Aloud a Retelling of Shakespeare’s Plays– When our interest was peaked in a story, we picked up Ten Tales from Shakespeare and our ten year old read to us from the book.
- Say the Lines Together– When we first started learning, we said them together.
- Practice Saying the Memorized Lines– Once they are ready, have them say the lines for everyone. Our kids have enjoyed the friendly competition that comes with learning the lines. I’m certain that is not the intention, but it’s been fun for us.
Benefits of Using How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
Does it get better than a thirteen year old boy reciting Shakespeare? Admittedly, he took some convincing, but he was on board and given the vestiges of his severe apraxia, I’d say he did a fabulous job! Bravo! We owe it all to our experience with How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. Mr. Ludwig breaks down the process for you and makes it easy:
- Step by Step Methods– He explains how the book is meant to be used and gives you the break down on how to get the job done.
- Teaches Shakespeare Like a Foreign Language– And helps you to understand the passages as you read and learn them. It makes so much sense when you know a word’s meaning in the context of the passage.
- Large Print Quotation Pages– All the passages taught in the book have been typed in large print and are available on his website for you to download and print. I print a whole section and let the kids practice.
- Audio Clips Help with Rhythm– Shakespearean actors have recorded the passages for you to hear and learn the passages for yourselves. It’s helpful when you aren’t quite getting the rhythm.
- Read and Go– It’s not necessary to read the book all the way through in order to get started. I read a chapter ahead of my kids everyday to be ready for our next day. That said, we do a new chapter every few days and I let my kids practice in between. Other than printing the passages, there’s no work to prepare.
- Makes Shakespeare Accessible to Everyone– Parents and students a like. You don’t have to be an English scholar to do this. You can just pick up and get to know Shakespeare with the help of someone who knows all about him and understand his craft.
Resources for Teaching Shakespeare
No other resource will have your kids learning and enjoying Shakespeare like How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. However, you’ll want to have some other books along the way which helps to make the plays even more meaningful and you’ll get to see the story in its whole.
- Ten Tales from Shakespeare– A two hundred year old retelling of four hundred year old tales. How is that not fun?
- Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children– An illustrated storybook which makes a great read aloud of 20 of Shakespeare’s stories for kids.
- Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers– 12 stories written for preteens as an introduction to Shakespeare.
- Audible version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream– Our kids love audio books and listening to a whole play would be a nice compliment to memorizing the lines. They can recite along with the readers.
Giveaway of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
Ken Ludwig is giving away 10 copies of his book! Enter the giveaway below for the chance to add this book to your homeschool library.
Connect with How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
There are a lot of way to connect with Ken Ludwig and his book on teaching children Shakespeare. Not only on his website but other places as well. For example:
- Ken Ludwig on Facebook
- Ken Ludwig– He is an internationally acclaimed playwright and it’s fun to see what he writes and who acts in his plays!
- Read Aloud Revival Podcast with Ken– This is a free podcast about the book and if you are a member there is a master class coming up on the topic. You can get a trial membership for the event, if you’d like.
Other Posts on Teaching Multiple Ages
Fostering Collaboration with Morning Meeting Time– This is a great way to start the day with all ages before moving to more independent or paired work. It’s a lovely time where all of our students can engage with each other over one topic or set of topics.
Engaging Multiple Ages in Your Homeschool– A list of all the ways we work together during our homeschool time from field trips to projects to collaborations. This is especially for families who have students doing all kinds of different levels of work and/or curriculum. How and when can your kids come together without it being overwhelming in time or scheduling?
Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day– One of my favorite posts. It’s been a good day if even a few of the things on this list happen! Learning Shakespeare together falls into at least one of these items.