Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Shakespeare: Great Middle School Resources

We are finally finishing up our history curriculum on the Middle Ages (The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: The Middle Ages: (Vol. 2)). History is a subject I really enjoy, so I tend to add lots of supplementals. I was excited when we finally got to the Elizabethan Age and Shakespeare so that we could utilize all the wonderful resources out there on the subject.
The Graphic Version
There are two great books, both can be found at the library, that I really like and recommend:  Shakespeare: His Work and His World and Tales From Shakespeare Student Edition Complete And Unabridged by Charles and Mary Lamb. There is also a graphic version that is particularly good as a first introduction for younger kids also called Tales from Shakespeare and is pictured above.

In our curriculum, the story of Macbeth was used as the introduction to Shakespeare. I chose to also focus on Hamlet as we are fortunate to live in an area with a Shakespeare Theater where Hamlet was performed this last season.  My 10 and 12 year old enjoyed the slightly abridged version of Hamlet at Orlando Shakes though they still thought it was long. (They were not wrong.)

In addition to these book materials, I found several videos that were entertaining and insightful for all of us. I have mentioned videos by Crash Course in the past for history topics, but they also have both a Literature and Theatre video series that include information about Shakespeare and his works. The literature video series has episodes that give an overview and literary importance of Hamlet, The Sonnets, and Romeo and Juliet. The theatre video series includes several episodes expressly about Shakespearean Theatre in a historical context. (Since every parent has different filters for their children, I suggest parents watch these first.)

  • The English Renaissance and NOT Shakespeare: Crash Course Theater #13
  • Straight Outta Stratford-Upon-Avon - Shakespeare's Early Days: Crash Course Theater #14
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies and an Acting Lesson: Crash Course Theater #15
  • Comedies, Romances, and Shakespeare's Heroines: Crash Course Theater #16

  • TedEd has some great educational content in general as well as this little gem on Shakespeare's Macbeth:

    As you learn about Shakespeare and his works, one can't help but discover the controversy surrounding the identity of the man himself. There is another TedEd talk on that subject called, "Did Shakespeare write his plays? - Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams" and a documentary that I personally found fascinating entitled "Last Will & Testament." (Last Will & Testament is currently available on Amazon Prime and I believe PBS Passport.) 

    I was already convinced of the importance of Shakespeare's works when at a recent homeschool convention I learned that the works of Shakespeare are considered Honorary Classics. There is The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, The Aeneid by Virgil, The Divine Comedy by Dante, The King James Bible and then the works of Shakespeare, considered by many to be the "Western Canon." I look forward to delving more into the works of Shakespeare in the coming months and years. Once again, I find myself learning along side my children and finding new interests and amazement in things that I would have never before imagined and I am grateful.

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