Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beginning Our Journey With Shakespeare

To teach or not to teach...that is the question.

I really desire to be someone who admires and appreciates the writings of Shakespeare.  Honestly, that's the case with most of the Classics.  But, when it comes right down to it I often find it tedious and a bit hard to understand.  I feel a bit uneducated even admitting this... but I have a hunch I am not  the only one.

There are so many compelling and convincing benefits of reading and learning the Bard's works that I decided it might be worth taking a second look for our homeschool.  We may never sit down and read all of his writings, but I want us to know the basic storyline and main characters of each of the plays.  If along the way we develop a passion for his work, all the better!

To begin our study I purchased the book Shakespeare For Kids.  It has been a gentle introduction into his life and what life would have been like.  There are activities for every age group, some easy and some more time consuming.

We started this book before Christmas, so we decided to make the Pomanders first. They were a lovely, scented addition to our table.  When you walked by them you could smell the spices and citrus.  We rubbed ground cinnamon on the skin, so they were just a bit messy to handle when they were finished.  (I wouldn't do this next time) It was interesting to learn that people of this time period believed that disease could be spread by fowl odors, so they made these spiced oranges to place all over their homes to combat the odors and make the air sweet.  They also wore them around their necks, or kept them in their pockets.

We made our family tree, and created individual Coat of Arms.  I think those in Shakespeare's day would have wondered what some of those symbols were, especially the Minion.  The older boys wrote a brief biography on Shakespeare's life.

We read a few lines from a Mid-Summer's Nights Dream, and the kids drew their interpretation of what they read.

Overall I feel this was a very good beginning to our journey.  All of the kids joined in on the reading, and it kept their interest if I kept it short.  The book is divided up nicely, which makes this an easy read.

Another book I purchased was How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig.  I first heard of this book while listening to a podcast at Amongst Lovely Things that was very inspiring.  He talked about the years he spent with his daughters reading and memorizing Shakespeare's work.  So, I think we are going to tackle this one next.

Edith Nesbit is a name I come across often when I am reading articles about teaching Shakespeare to younger children.  She was born in England in 1858 and was the youngest of six children.  "Miss Nesbit simplifies many William Shakespeare's masterpieces for young readers by delighting them with stories of misunderstandings, generosity, sadness, humor, courage and love."  This was taken from the back of the book Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. These quick, fun reads will give us the basic story and build on our Shakespeare foundation.

I have also heard really good things about the series from Lois Burdett,  Shakespeare Can Be Fun.

Are you a lover of all things Shakespeare?  How have you taught the subject in your homeschool?  I am always looking for recommendations.

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