How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops.

Teaching Shakespeare in Homeschool Co-op

 

How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops

Sabrina and Vicki love Shakespeare and they love teaching Shakespeare for their homeschool co-ops. They have had so many fun experiences with their high schoolers as the teens learned about Shakespeare and a few of his most famous plays.

So what are some ways to handle Shakespeare for your homeschool co-op?

Keep it fun! Don’t scare the teens off by taking his works too seriously!

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school and there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare.

Show the teens the timelessness of some of his characters. (Some of the character types are folks you can run into today. Look for Sabrina’s Literature Study Guides for Shakespeare to help with this.) You can start with this FREEBIE on timeless expressions that Shakespeare gave us.

Also, check out this episode with Sabrina that has more ideas on teaching Shakespeare.

Traditional Academic Co-op (Let’s call it Sylvester)

The Sylvester co-op feels comfortable with textbooks, scope and sequences, syllabi, and grading assignments with rubrics. When approaching teaching Shakespeare, Sylvester co-op teachers will plan for a formal atmosphere. They will spend a lot of time translating Elizabethan English into modern English. They will teach iambic pentameter with counting syllables and finding accents in lines of words. They will discuss rhyming couplets. They might even do some copywork with this FREEIE from our friend, Kat Patrick.

This is all fine and dandy! (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare!) But Sylvester co-op, here’s word of advice: You might be tempted to ONLY do those things. Sabrina recommends that Sylvester gets a little loose and have fun. How to do that?

Ask yourselves: Why has Shakespeare remained so popular all these years? Now you can answer yourselves: Because it’s good storytelling with good characters.

While there is strange language, important form and structure, there is lots of interesting stuff to discuss in co-op. Take for instance: Discuss Much Ado About Nothing. It is a Shakespearian rom-com! Anyone who has seen a modern romance-comedy can find points of connection back to Much Ado About Nothing!

Organic, Bordering on Unschooling Co-op (Let’s call it Beatrice)

The Beatrice co-op might be a bit all over the place. They might be allowing a go-with-the-flow, find-a-passage-to-read co-op. They will probably be acting out favorite scenes in a light-hearted manner.

That is all groovy! (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare!) But Beatrice co-op, here’s a word of advice: You might be tempted to just have fun with interacting with favorite scenes. However, Sabrina recommends spending a little time explaining why Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter.

You know why? Because Shakespeare’s plays were produced by a company (SO many plays for one company to remember, line after line after line). But what Shakespeare knew (like many of his playwright peers) was that the rhythm patters of Shakespeare’s plays made heavy memorization of lines possible (and quicker). That’s because the rhythm of iambic pentameter is similar to English speech patterns and the musicality of the rhythm aids the memorization.

A fun activity for a co-op like Beatrice is to take a conversation the students just had over lunch, write it down, and then change it to iambic pentameter!

The Somewhere-in-between Co-op (Let’s call it Bob)

The Bob co-op is so moderate, a bit of fun, bit of strenuous academics. You have a lot going on at your co-op. You could choose a couple of scenes for creating a readers theater production.

Readers theater is a bit more than just a reading around the room- that’s fun, though, try it sometime. Rather, you will cast students as specific characters. They will read over and study them ahead of time, they read the script as part of the performance.

Usually characters wear black with one special piece that helps identify the character- like the “fool” character wearing a jester’s hat. This piece can be anachronistic, too- like a sea captain wearing a modern sailor hat.

Readers theater works great on Zoom, btw!

I guess our co-ops were a bit Sylvester-sh, Bob-ish AND Beatrice-ish because our homeschool high schoolers did all these activities with their favorite teacher, Sabrina!

SO, how do you handle Shakespeare for homeschool c0-ops?

One way is to use 7SistersHomeschool’s soon-to-be-released Literature Study Guides for Shakespeare! Sabrina has created these guides based on the activities she did with our teens. The guides will include:

  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Mid-Summer Night’s Dream
  • Hamlet
  • King Lear

Like all 7Sisters study guides, they will be no-busywork, don’t-kill-the-play. They will focus on the timelessness of the plays and characters, a little bit on form and structure, and links to good productions of Shakespeare’s plays for the teens to watch.

Join Vicki and Sabrina (and the Bard) for an inspirational discussion! For more on teaching Shakespeare, try some ideas from our friend, Kat Patrick.

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How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

Sabrina and Vicki are so excited we got to be together (on Zoom, anyway). The pandemic has sure made it a challenge to all be together. In this episode, we talked about one of our favorite Literature topics: Shakespeare.

Don’t gasp! Studying Shakespeare can seem intimidating. However, Sabrina has experience teaching our local homeschool high schoolers the works of the Bard that inspires teens to enjoy it. Join us for some of Sabrina’s top tips on teaching Shakespeare!

Why study Shakespeare in homeschool high school?

  • Because it makes you look smart (especially seeing it on the homeschool transcript)!
    • Teens feel smart when they study Shakespeare. It sounds so intellectual to say, “I’m studying Shakespeare this year!”
    • Moms feel smart just typing it on the homeschool transcript!
  • Because it helps teens understand the human experience.
    • Many of Shakespeare’s characters have feelings and thoughts that teens have felt or thought. It is eye-opening for them to discover that people for eons of time have had the same human experiences.
  • Because it is an opportunity to experience masterful storytelling.
    • Homeschool trivia: Did you know that Shakespeare’s great storytelling followed the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s storytelling guidelines:
      • Tragedies require that things do not turn out how the reader thinks they should. In fact, the good people are punished for their goodness and the bad guys are rewarded. It causes the reader to say, “That’s not right!”
        • Vicki points out that tragedies can be used to change people’s behavior. For instance, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a tragedy. People read the book and felt that the world could not go on in that tragic way. A response was generated. As Abraham Lincoln reportedly said when he met the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So this is the little lady who made the great war.”
      • Comedies require that things turn out as the reader thinks they should. The good people are rewarded for their goodness and the bad people’s evildoing is revealed and punished.
  • Because when homeschool high schoolers read great books and plays, like the works of Shakespeare, they bring to the reading their own personalities, ideas and motivations.
    • Shakespeare himself wrote with his own personality, ideas and motivations.
    • So when teens read his works (as in all good reading experiences), there is a genuine meeting of the minds.
    • This brings about a challenge to action or growth in thinking.
  • Because Shakespeare’s plays are entertainment
    • In his day, as in our day, there was great production value that gave audiences a wonderful experience.
    • In our day, it is easy to go on YouTube and find excellent productions of his plays for teens to watch. (Check out Bob Jones University’s and Rice University’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays.)

BTW- This summer 7SistersHomeschool will be releasing literature study guides for our favorite Shakespeare plays:

  • King Lear
  • Hamlet
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream

As always, our literature study guides don’t kill the play, are user friendly and adaptable to different levels of interest and ability!

How do 7Sisters Shakespeare Study Guides work?

In 7Sisters Shakespeare study guides, Sabrina encourages teens to watch a performance. Sabrina actually uses “a sort of backwards format” from many other Shakespeare guides.

  • First, she gives a background to the story.
  • Then, she tells them what happens in the story (total spoiler alert). This way teens have in their minds when they watch the production the plotline, the characters (and how to expect them to behave).
  • Next, they watch the performance. (Sabrina points out that students will not be able to follow the entire story, but they will have the basic idea and in watching the performers’ expressions and behavior, they will catch the basic ideas.)
  • Finally, they read the play. They discuss the plot, characters, wordy passages and difficult to understand material, the rhythm (iambic pentameter) and rhyme schemes, etc.
  • Vicki points out how much our teens have enjoyed learning Shakespeare’s plays.

BTW- As a freebie on 7SistersHomeschool.com, there will be a list of phrases the Shakespeare invented. It is a fun discussion tool to start a Shakespeare unit.

Why did Shakespeare write in iambic pentameter?

  • The Globe Theatre had its troupe of actors. They had many plays to memorize quickly. Iambic pentameter helped them quickly memorize their plays.
  • Iambic pentameter also closely mimics our natural speech patterns. (Ever think about that?) Therefore, it is easier to listen to.
  • When teens know trivia like this, it sometimes makes Shakespeare feel more enjoyable.

Why did Sabrina choose those particular plays?

Both of the tragedies have main characters who are similar: The main character thinks he knows who he is and what he is doing in the world but finds out the opposite. But each of the characters is opposite in age (King Lear is in his 80s and Hamlet is late teens). This shows the universality of existential crises.

Both of the comedies have a look a “love” and all the social implications and silliness of finding true love. There is also a wonderful character type who uses words wrong all the time (malapropisms): remember Dogberry the constable in Much Ado about Nothing or Dick Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream? They just can’t get their words right (to hilarious ends).

Want more Shakespeare resources? Check out this interview with our friend, Kat Patrick, on teaching Shakespeare, a freebie from her, and her wonderful courses at Dreaming Spires Home Learning.

Join Sabrina and Vicki for a fun chat about teaching Shakespeare’s plays.

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How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

Why Study Shakespeare?

LCP Ep 2: Why Study Shakespeare?


Join Katie at Literary Cafe Podcast for tips in Why and How to Study Shakespeare in your homeschool. #homeschool #homeschooling #Shakespeare #Language Arts

Join Katie Glennon as she shares fun ways to include Shakespeare’s plays in your homeschool literature and Shakespeare studies starting as early as elementary ages through high school. Find out why you should include Shakespeare in your studies, what resources you can use to more easily understand and enjoy his works, and fun activities for your whole family to enjoy brushing up your Shakespeare!
Visit Katie’s website for more fun ideas and tips to use in your homeschool at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage or her Facebook Group.

 

Why do we study Shakespeare?

Plots and themes from Shakespeare’s plays are a part of our culture and can be found in movies, television shows, plays, books, and poetry.

References to Shakespeare in Movies

TV Shows with Shakespeare Themes

TV Characters Based on Shakespeare

Book Titles Inspired by Shakespeare Phrases

Allusions to Shakespeare (characters and phrases) are found throughout literature and poetry. When we have background knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays we can better understand the ideas and images authors and poets are trying to convey in their writing.

Words created by Shakespeare are used every day. 1 out of every 100 words are most likely attributed to William Shakespeare.

Words Shakespeare Invented

45 Phrases Coined by Shakespeare

Words and Phrases Coined by Shakespeare pdf – Printable Handout for you to Download

Shakespeare used his plays as a way to share what he observed about human nature and man’s “foibles”. He poked fun at and examined how and why humans behaved. We can learn to understand men’s motivations and the consequences of their actions, and can examine character qualities and flaws.

Shakespeare for Children and High Schoolers

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit

Barron’s Simply Shakespeare and Shakespeare Made Easy series

Shakespeare Activity Ideas

Study William Shakespeare’s life and times and the Globe Theater with some of these suggested book titles –

A Shakespearean Theater by Jacqueline Morely

Bard of Avon: the Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley

William Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki

After reading a story or some stories, have your children select their favorite one or scene and use quotes as copywork or write a summary or sentence or two of the story on notebooking pages and draw the scene.

You can use this e-book I created for notebooking pages, quotes, book title suggestions, activity suggestions and website links for a ready to go resource for your Shakespeare study. (Just for visiting my podcast page, use the coupon code ShakespearePodcast to receive $1.50 off.)

Having Fun with Shakespeare for Kids and Teens

Having Fun with Shakespeare for Kids and Teens in your homeschool

For field trips, go to plays at local community theaters and schools. Look for a Shakespearean Festival.

Make some puppets from paper and craft sticks, paper bags, or even those old socks with the missing pair. Be creative!

Have a discussion about what happened in the story, favorite or least favorite parts of the story, and about the characters and their actions.

Have a party for Shakespeare’s Birthday (April 23rd) or just have a party celebrating Shakespeare

Throw a birthday partyor celebration and dress up as characters from any stories or plays you have read. Or, dress up as historical figures from his time period.

Use this great free printable pack of party decorations, hats, photo props, and place mats.
Printable Party Pack

Serve food from the time period.

Play games –

  • Quote famous phrases from the stories or plays you read and ask if anyone knows what story or play it came from or what character said it.
  • Read words or phrases and ask if anyone can tell you if it is one Shakespeare created.
  • Read a quote and ask if it came from one of Shakepeare’s plays or the King James Bible.

 

Be sure to comment in the Comments box any ideas you’d like to share that your family has enjoyed or any of these ideas! I would love to hear from you! Thanks for visiting! Come back and visit the Literary Cafe Podcast for May’s topic How to Study Poetry in your Homeschool. We will explore fun ways to study and enjoy poetry! Spring is the perfect time to study poetry!

 

Make sure you subscribe to the Literary Cafe Podcast at iTunes so you don’t miss an episode or by clicking on the Android or RSS feed buttons below the recording on this page!

Join Katie at Literary Cafe Podcast for tips in Why and How to Study Shakespeare in your homeschool. #homeschool #homeschooling #Shakespeare #Language Arts

Visit Katie’s website for more fun ideas and tips to use in your homeschool at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage.

HSHSP Ep 104: Teaching Shakespeare and Loving It! Interview with Kat Patrick

This week on HSHSP Ep 104: Teaching Shakespeare and Loving It! Interview with Kat Patrick.

HSHSP Ep 104: Teaching Shakespeare and Loving It! Interview with Kat Patrick

HSHSP Ep 104: Teaching Shakespeare and Loving It! Interview with Kat Patrick

Many homeschooling highschool moms and teens feel intimidated (or even bored) when they think about studying Shakespeare. But take our word for it, Shakespeare can be meaningful, fun and even helpful for life preparation!

Here are some things you should know:

  • Shakespeare was writing for the masses. He wanted to entertain them so that he could sell tickets at his theater. Average Englishmen loved his plays and came back over and over to watch them. If we think Shakespeare in terms of the “common man”, it might feel less intimidating.
  • Shakespeare wrote about universal human experiences. His stories connected with his audience. If we look, we’ll still find connections.
  • Shakespeare’s characters and relationships were relatable to his audience. While the stories are not what we are used to, we can relate with some character or the other.
  • When the characters and relationships were placed in unfamiliar settings, the audiences were allowed to relate, connect and use their imaginations.

Shakespeare did not write his plays to be read. He wrote them to be performed. So try a double-pronged approach:

  • See a production
  • Read that play
  • Try watching an act, then reading that act together (try readers theater style for a fun approach, if you have a co-op or homeschool group class)

Our interview is with Kat Patrick. She is a homeschool mom who for many years lived and homeschooled England. She studied for her graduate degree there (and met her husband, thus raising their kids there). They lived near Oxford. Today Kat teaches English (and many subjects through her international online school Dreaming Spires Homeschool).

Kat reminds us of the benefits to studying Shakespeare:

  • It makes you a better reader: The better you get at Shakespeare, the better you are at reading textbooks, and real-life reading like contracts
  • It gives you context for other Literature studies. If you are going to read British Literature, you’ll never truly understand what you read without some knowledge of Shakespeare, because allusions to his work in embedded throughout any British writing.
  • Lots of our movie and books take ideas from Shakespeare:
    • Comedic characters who scrozzle phrases
    • Comic relief scenes in tragic drama

When you are ready to start studying Shakespeare in your homeschool highschool:

For more resources, check out the following resources:

Shakespeare Copywork from Kat Patrick 7SistersHomeschool.com

Homeschool Highschool Podcast Ep 65: Homeschooling in UK and US

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HSHSP Ep 104: Teaching Shakespeare and Loving It! Interview with Kat Patrick


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