Shakespeare Day is celebrated on 23rd April to mark William Shakespeare’s birthday. Although we don’t know the exact date of Shakespeare’s birthday, we do know he was born around this time in 1564.
To this day we use expressions invented by Shakespeare in our everyday language, often without realising it! Children can learn plenty about human nature and life in Tutor England from Shakespeare’s compelling characters and exciting plots.
You can introduce children as young as seven to the world of Shakespeare through engaging activities and interactive experiences.
Invent Shakespearean language
Bernard Levin, author and broadcaster, famously wrote:
“If you cannot understand my argument, and declare “It’s Greek to me“, you are quoting Shakespeare;… if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle…insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches…you are quoting Shakespeare.”
Explore more of Shakespeare’s invented idioms. Have fun putting Shakespeare’s idioms into sentences, or make up your own idioms inspired by the Bard (‘bard’ means poet).
Share enthralling Shakespearean stories
Read children’s Shakespeare books and listen to audio versions together. Here are our favourites and all are suitable for children of seven and above.
Shakespeare Stories by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross, Orchard Books, 2014
Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare by Lesley Sims, Usborne Publishing, 2010
Shakespeare Retold, BBC Teach. These stories are spins on Shakespeare’s plays told by well-known authors.
Watch Shakespeare animated tales
Enjoy Shakespeare comics for children
We recommend Marcia William’s books: Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare! and Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays. Both books feature classic Shakespeare plays presented in comic strip format which are fun for upper Key Stage 2 children to read.
Classic Comics publish graphic novels of Shakespeare’s plays that are suitable for older children.
Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s world
The Royal Shakespeare Company is planning performances of Shakespeare’s plays including The Winter’s Tale, so it is worth keeping an eye on their website.
On Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre ‘playground’ website there are games, puzzles, animations, and interactive guided tours of the theatre. Children can go behind the scenes to see how costumes and sets are created at the famous Globe.
Another way to engage young children with Shakespeare is through images. The What on Earth? Wallbook of Shakespeare: A Timeline Illustrating the Complete Plays of William Shakespeare is a fold-out timeline of all Shakespeare’s plays. The timeline is truly immersive and so detailed it will keep children exploring for hours.
Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace (when you can)
We can’t do this at the moment, but once lockdown has lifted a visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon is the very best way to bring Shakespeare to life.
See The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website to find out about all the activities and family events they run. You can visit Shakespeare’s family homes and his school: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Harvard House and Mary Arden’s Farm.
Understand Shakespeare’s language
Shakespeare’s plays were written 400 years ago and so it’s not surprising we have difficulty understanding the language.
Spark Notes’ No Fear Shakespeare provides the full text of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets with modern translations side-by-side.
Write Shakespearean tales
Create Shakespeare-inspired stories with a little bit of help from Deborah Patterson’s My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Shakespearean Tales.
Deborah provides stories starters, magical songs and bewitching lines from Shakespeare’s stories to inspire children to create their own characters and spin-off tales.
Would your child benefit from English Literature tuition?
Across the curriculum from Key Stage 2 to GCSE and A Level, children study both modern and classic plays, poetry and prose including the works of William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s works were written to be performed and watched rather than studied and our tutors know this. Every tutor is a highly qualified, creative teacher who can bring Shakespeare’s stories and poems to life for every child.
Our tutors also support children to develop English Literature skills including the ability to analyse and critically compare texts and be able to support a point of view with evidence.
To find out how one-to-one English Literature tuition can benefit your child, talk to us today: firstname.lastname@example.org 01223 858 421