I know a bank where the wild thyme blows… Simple words. Beautiful words. Words that conjure images in the minds of young and old alike.
Are you intimidated by the thought of teaching your kiddos Shakespeare? I was. Until I bought Ken Ludwig’s book How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. To say that this book changed my life, and the lives of my kids, would seem like an overstatement. But it’s not. Really.
Shakespeare and gifted children go together brilliantly. The explorations they can have – suspense, mystery, romance, fantasy, action… it’s a match made in Heaven.
Oh – and the insults and one-liners. I don’t know about you, but my gifted kids can be pretty creative in their insults as it is, and their cognitive thirst just laps up the one-liners that leapt from the bard’s quill so effortlessly.
Really, though, Ludwig says it best early on in the book, “The answer to the first question [of why teach Shakespeare] is that Shakespeare isn’t just one of the many great authors in the English language; Shakespeare is, indisputably, one of the two great bedrocks of Western civilization in English. (The other is the King James translation of the Bible.) Not only do Shakespeare’s plays themselves contain the finest writing of the past 450 years, but most of the best novels, plays, poetry, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616 – from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, from Ulysses to The Godfather – are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes.” (p.7)
Shakespeare is just too rich to miss.
And, the beauty of starting our young gifted kiddos off on an early love of his work is that they’ll never know that Shakespeare is intimidating to most of the population. They’ll just see beauty and drama and suspense.
Who knows where an early love of theater can lead them…
Getting Your Gifted Kids Started with Shakespeare
The first thing you need to do is let go of the mindset that you need to teach your gifted kids Shakespeare at all. Instead, commit to reading Ludwig’s book and enjoying it with your kids. One of the best things I’ve done during our family morning time with my kids is sit down and learn the words of Shakespeare alongside them.
We’ve used How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare as our jumping off point – together. I’ve also put approachable abridged Shakespeare plays within easy reach of my kids, along with some games and toys.
Other Resources for Teaching Shakespeare to Gifted Kids
There are so many different resources around the Internet related to teaching Shakespeare to children, that you could easily take on a full unit study if you’d like. Here are some that I think are great for gifted children in particular.
The Shakespeare Insult Generator: Fun – and self-explanatory.
Living Iambic Pentameter Lesson:
Shake Sphere: An incredible library of links to lessons, analyses of the plays, and so much more.
The Folger Shakespeare Library: The world’s largest Shakespeare collection – full of teacher resources, videos, and more.
ShakespeareCast: A podcast site featuring several plays acted out in audio.
Playfighting: My 13 year old son is in love – the one who was once asked (really) to stop staging “falls” during class transitions at co-op because not all of the parents knew he was acting, and it was too startling and disruptive to them. This site is full of tutorials for stage fighting – and falls.
The Reduced Shakespeare Company: Just plain fun. Seriously. This podcast is made up of a three-man comedy troupe who distills Shakespeare down to an incredibly abridged (and hilarious) versions. You might want to screen the episodes first.
PlayShakespeare.com: The self-proclaimed ultimate resource of free Shakespeare.
Whatever you do, relax. Your kids are learning with you for a reason. Enjoy the process – Ken Ludwig’s book makes it easy. You and your children will be quoting each other Shakespeare, discussing character motivation, and analyzing themes in no time.
The best part about me waiting so long to share how we learn Shakespeare is that now I get to bring you a giveaway. The author of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, Ken Ludwig, is giving away TEN copies of his book. All you have to do is enter the giveaway widget below for your chance – and he’ll ship to anywhere in the world, so if you’re one of my Raising Poppies friends from outside the US, make sure you enter, too! And, check out the author on Twitter and Facebook, too.
I’m so excited for you and your kids to learn Shakespeare together! Do you have a favorite quote, passage, or sonnet to share? I’d love to hear it.
For more posts about parenting gifted kids, check out: