Some fun with Shakespeare!!!!

I love Shakespeare! From first performing and learning it at school, I have enjoyed many of his sonnets and plays. As a primary school teacher, I often wish that the curriculum had more Shakespeare in it. I have dabbled before with some of his work, for the Year 5 Narrative Unit 4 - Older Literature I covered Romeo and Juliet with some amazing results. The children absolutely loved it! We also did a school production for Year 5 which was a modern twist on A Midsummer Night's Dream, again with fantastic results.

I know that Shakespeare is covered at Secondary school but I don't see any harm in children familiarising themselves with some of his work and having fun with some of the older Shakespearean language at Primary. Most teachers may feel that the older language would really tricky for the children to understand but here is how you can overcome that in a enjoyable and engaging way.

I came across this idea after stumbling on the twitter profile of @Shakespearesong. An account which rewrites current lyrics of songs as if they were the works of Shakespeare. WARNING - a lot of these tweets are not appropriate for children and have to be carefully chosen if they are to be shared with your class but here is an example:

"Put your hands up for Detroit,"

I have had lots of laughs reading these tweets and trying to work out the songs. It made me think about how I could introduce Shakespeare in this way using examples that the children are more comfortable with. Year 5 children may not be able to translate a monologue from Macbeth but they could maybe translate a One Direction or Justin Bieber lyric???

Using some of these examples or even making up your own would be a really engaging and enjoyable way to introduce some of the typical Shakespearean language used in all his works. When the children have worked with some current examples, they will be more inclined to try with some real examples. This then led me to then come across the app "Shakespeare Translator," this app allows you to translate text, useful phrases, famous quotes or lyrics and give it a Shakespearean twist. It also includes a glossary of Shakespearean words and phrases with a modern day translation . Here is a screenshot:

iPhone Screenshot 1 

Using this app you could have a lot of fun in the classroom, children could turn their favourite songs into a 16th Century lyric. Or even remake some of their favourite scenes from recent movies with a Shakespearean twist, you could use the Dropbox trick to help with this. Here is an example I made with my stepson just playing with the Shakespeare translator app and iMovie (importing the video and recording ourselves over it,) using a new script and remaking a scene from Finding Nemo - Shakespeare Version. 

This approach will gently introduce children to some of the easier translations of Shakespeare and hopefully enthuse them to approach Shakespeare with a new and more positive outlook. The translations may not be 100% accurate however children will soon pick up what words such as 'hath,' 'thee' and 'doth' mean which will come in very useful when they study Shakespeare in a lot more detail as they go into secondary school. 


  1. May I use your Shakespeare image for my blog? I'd credit you on course.


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