As many of you know, I visit classrooms and do an engaging, interactive, “Intro to Shakespeare” experience. However, some locations are a bit too far to get to, for example, Wales, England. I use that example, as I have recently conducted a Skype call with a group of kids from Wales! Other than having to get up at 5am my time, it was an incredible experience! All the kids had their questions ready and in-hand and my face was up on the big-screen for all to see! It was fun, as the questions could be about anything. So, of the 20 or so questions I answered, a few were about Shakespeare (they just read and performed my Tempest for Kids), and even some about book writing, but, there were also questions about my pets (yes, I have a fish named Monster!), and many around legos!
See the video below for a quick view of the Skype call.
All-in-all, it was a great experience for myself, the kids, and the teacher!
If you would like to connect via Skype, please email me! brendan @ PlayingWithPlays.com
Over the years, I have done many classroom visits. It’s such a wonderful experience for me, the kids, and the teacher. It’s a quick 45-55 minutes visit, that consists of the following:
2-3 minutes about me and Shakespeare, quick and simple
5-9 minute solo TOTALLY interactive one-man show retelling one play (i.e. Macbeth or Hamlet or check out some videos below!)
Typically, I pull kids out of the audience and have them say lines or get killed during the performance!
Then we have them do their “auditions” (mine are COMPLETELY different than typical auditions)
It starts with everyone lining up and doing their best “death” (remember, this is melodramatic Shakespeare and most kids LOVE to die on stage!)
Then, I have every give me their best scream! (they just saw a dead body, it’s only logical!)
Lastly, I have everyone line up and give me their best evil laugh or witches cackle. I first start off with teaching them how to do a basic evil laugh (Muwahahaha!!! Using their entire body in the process)
A few days before, the class reviews and writes down various Shakespeare insults from the insult generator.
Have them practice on each other (or even their parents and siblings!)
Then we meet and start the Insult-a-thon. Kids love it!
At that point, it’s a Q&A about whatever Shakespeare title they are reviewing, Shakespeare, or even book writing and publishing.
You can engage your class this way on a first day of Shakespeare, or , if you are interested in learning more about me coming in for a classroom visit, you can email me at brendan at PlayingWithPlays.com
One other note, the typical grades that I visit are 5th through 7th, they are typically the most engaging when it comes to all the hands-on activities that we do!
I have worked and talked with many teachers that have used my books to help kids with special needs. As well, I have done many plays with kids with special needs, and the change and awareness that is created during the process is amazing! Knowing this, I wanted to share an idea that I just received from a teacher. Here is what she wrote:
I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was I have already read that once and do not need to repeat. But by introducing this as a play that needed to be word perfect and beginning on page one each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.
A clever use of my books, or plays in general, to get special needs kids more engaged in reading! Just a lesson idea from a teacher in the world. I hope this helps, as well as I’m always here to help if you need it, just reach out to me!
A teacher recently contacted me with a great idea about her Rome curriculum for her elementary kids. They’re taking my Julius Caesar for kids and doing a readers theater in class. No need to memorize, they just read through a few times, then do a simple Roman performance for another class or parents, but they get…
Ok, let’s start with, I didn’t make this… but, it’s pretty darn cool! (credit to Mya Gosling) Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo. My first thought was, it’s going to be a pretty long game. But, my second thought was to actually make this into a game. Have all the different scenes that relate to the squares put in the “Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo” bag. Pull out the scene and play, review it slightly for a quick learning lesson, and have the kids mark their cards!
If I was a highschool teacher, I would use the Shakespearean Tragedy Bingo as a tool to show kids how there is so much cool stuff to Shakespeare’s plays. How life today, in some parts, is no different than 400 years ago.
When trying to engage kids with Shakespeare, I find the tragedies are the most engaging! Have fun with this one teachers!
Ok, I just got these REALLY cool Shakespeare tattoos, and the kids are LOVING them! Several people have asked where they can get some, so I’ve put them on my website for you to buy if you want for your kids! Enjoy! OR I’ll send them free with any books you purchase!!!
I recently coached a parent who was running an after-school program, and she asked me how I do the “death auditions” for my plays. It made me realize that I haven’t done a simple quick layout of my first day for a while, so, here it is: 1) I do a 5-8 minute, melodramatic solo performance…
Classroom Insult-a-thon (Don’t forget, April 23rd is National Insult Like Shakespeare Day!) It’s simple and fun and works like this: Everyone writes up 3-4 different insults using the Shakespeare Insult Generator They spend about 5-10 minutes practicing their insults, working on generating the appropriate delivery with angst! Split the class into 2 groups that line…
I work hard to make sure kids find him funny with my Shakespeare for Kids books. But what’s equally clear to me, teens generally consider Shakespeare boring or “Why is my teacher wasting my life reading this #$%@” As I have seen on Twitter many times. But hey, if it’s not presented right, it comes…
Although Shakespeare used a lot of words we may not understand, and a lot of words people and kids will think are “big”, what’s clear is he was an artist with language. Now, not many of us are ever going to be 1/8th as good with language as he was, but we will at least be…