Having huge amounts of fun with teaching Shakespeare!

Graham Andre

Graham is a primary school teacher working on the Isle of Wight. Most recently Graham was seen working with his class on the (now BAFTA nominated!) BBC2 documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’. Through this documentary, he has been invited to speak on national TV and live events to talk about its impact and his role with The GEC. Graham has always worked in the education sector, starting as a teaching assistant and having various roles before doing a part-time degree and completing his GTP six years ago.

Follow @grahamandre

Website: www.numeracyshed.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Its was a with some trepidation and a little fear when our head said to us about teaching Shakespeare as a topic. This was shaped by my own experience with Shakespeare at school, which basically amounted to reading from a book and having little to no understanding of his fantastic language. After a staff trip to the Globe in London for CPD and some inspiring ideas shared I was happier, even a little excited about the prospect of teaching Shakespeare to 7 and 8 year olds. My class were called The Tempest - this was primarily the play I concentrated on - but many of the ideas I used could be used and adapted with any Shakespeare play.


My first wish was that I wanted the children to act. I wanted them to have an idea of the language Shakespeare used and the story he was trying to tell, so I used this great book:

Adapted by Brendan P Kelso, these terrific books (others are available) have play versions suitable for children that mix modern language and actual Shakespeare quotes to make Shakespeare more accessible. I was mindful not to reveal or even read the story of the Tempest myself, so that as we worked our way through the story I could theorise with my class what may happen next. The story was brilliant; full of magic, intrigue, revenge, monsters and romance. My class loved acting out each part and children were chosen at random to act. As an added bonus we were also able to Skype the author Brendan P Kelso for a Q&A session.

YouTube link

Caliban Origin Story

One of the most intriguing characters in The Tempest is Caliban: the part-man, part-fish, part-devil creature that lives on the island. What is interesting about him is that we know little of his life before Prospero arrived on the island. We know his mother was the witch Sycorax, but not how he arrived at the island, who his father was, etc etc. Using the origins of superheroes as a hook, I asked my children to write origin stories for Caliban: there were no right or wrong theories, but pupils had to use what they knew to create that story. The children loved coming up with this backstory for Caliban. You can read some examples of the work they created here.

Shaving Foam Art

A simple but very effective activity, using just shaving foam and ink you swirl the ink into the shaving foam then lay sugar paper onto it. Once dried, cut out black sugar paper to help depict the opening scene from the Tempest. Looks great but smells good too:

Prospero’s Island Descriptive Writing

I used the beginning of this as an observed lesson, I put signs around the classroom, each wall was a different sense and I encouraged children to use post-it notes to describe what they could see, hear, taste, smell on Prospero’s island then place the post-it note on the correct wall. Children then looked at the post-it notes and ticked their favourite descriptions, I then went on a tour of the island with the class using their favourite post-it notes to describe the island. This was the basis for their plan which they then wrote and I recorded over the rest of the week.

YouTube link

Shakespearean Insults:

Possibly the most popular activity that we did, and one we performed to parents during our Shakespearean Summer Fayre.

Using the ‘Shakespeare Insult Generator’ the class generated and wrote insults, before performing them in an insult duel. The generator can be downloaded here: http://playingwithplays.com/shakespeare-insult-generator/

This was a great activity to tick the speaking and listening boxes - take a look at our insults below:

YouTube link


In conclusion, there are a whole host of great ways you can teach and learn about Shakespeare. Luckily we have the internet, and most notably Twitter, for inspiration. Personally, I cannot wait to teach Shakespeare again and once more use some of these activities, as well as others that I seem to be finding out about daily. If this has been of any use to use, please comment below and let me know how your Shakespearean teaching is going

Have you used similar tactics? Let us know below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"