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Hands-on Shakespeare

Updated on June 11, 2015

Learn Shakespeare with Projects and Activities

We know that Shakespeare wrote drama to be performed in a theater not "literature" to be analyzed during language arts lessons. So reading his plays doesn't achieve the same effect as watching a performance.

But you can actually bring the theater home by acting out Shakespearean plays in your living room. Dress up and be actors, or use puppets instead.

Here are some ideas to add a fun element to your Shakespeare studies.

Shakespeare Paper Crafts - free printables for hands-on exploration

If you want to keep it simple with a minimum of preparation, puppets and paperdolls are great for narrating scenes from a Shakespearean play. When you add that hands-on approach, the learning sticks forever.

Make your own globe theater stage for your puppets.Be sure to visit the Virtual Globe Theater to see what it really looked like.

Enacting King Lear with Puppets

Enacting King Lear with Puppets
Enacting King Lear with Puppets

Masterpuppet Theater - The World of Shakespeare--at your Fingertips!

This set includes finger puppets and backdrops for narrating famous scenes from Shakespeare.

Masterpuppet Theater: The World of Shakespeare--at your Fingertips!
Masterpuppet Theater: The World of Shakespeare--at your Fingertips!

Read a review at The New Yorker.

View THE PLAYERS , THE SETS, THE PLAYS, THE STAGE at Masterpuppet Theater.


Masterpuppet Theater in Action

Great Characters from Shakespeare Paper Dolls

Reference the collection at Cleveland Press Shakespeare Photographs for inspiration if you choose to design your own Shakespeare paperdolls or dress up in character.

Need printable puppet templates? Visit Puppets for Narration for several links.

Acting Out Shakespeare's Plays - Making it Really Come Alive

If you want to go a bit deeper and get an even better taste of Shakespeare's theater, act out some scenes from the drama that you are studying.

1. Choose a play that you are familiar with and then select the favorite scene or scenes. Your children may even want to do a quick summary of the entire plot.

2. Create a simple script.

3. Plan costumes, props, and backdrops.

4. Rehearse and then give a show.

Read how other homeschool families have produced Shakespeare performances:

Charlotte Mason Help

The Sleepover Shakespeare Society

Irresistible Shakespeare

This book gives six scenes to enact yourself.

Irresistible Shakespeare
Irresistible Shakespeare

If you prefer an instant download, this book is also available at CurrClick in Ebook format.


As You Like It -- Re-enacted by Homeschoolers

Shakespeare for Kids - His Life and Times, 21 Activities (For Kids series)

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities (For Kids series)
Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities (For Kids series)

This book could serve as a spine for an entire term's worth of Shakespeare study. It's jam-packed with illustrations, photos, facts, maps, and history. Instead of being arranged in chapter and sections, this book is divided into acts and scenes just like a drama.

Throughout the text are activity ideas with directions and diagrams. Here are some examples (there are about twice as many as are listed here):

make a pomander balldecorate a pair of gloveslearn how to jugglemake a horn bookcook apple moyecreate new wordsplay Elizabethan gamesmake a quill pen


The Play's the Thing Board Game

The Play's the Thing Board Game
The Play's the Thing Board Game

This game for 2-6 players is appropriate for ages 8 and up. No knowledge of Shakespeare is requiredto play, but through the game, players will learn about the three plays featured -- Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Julius Caesar. Instructions for four levels of play are included so that everyone in the family can play.


Shakespeare's Globe - An Interactive Pop-up Theatre

What an incredible tool for narrating back what you've just read or for creative play.

To see more pictures of it in action, visit To Shakespeare or Not to Shakespeare.

It seems this item is currently unavailable. I hope that it will be back in stock at Amazon soon.

Shakespeare's Globe: An Interactive Pop-up Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe: An Interactive Pop-up Theatre

This interactive book features a fold-out model of the Globe Theatre in its heyday, complete with stage, galleries, thatched roof, and spectators ready for a performance. Selected punch-out characters from 12 of Shakespeare's plays are included!



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    • profile image

      Onnica 17 months ago

      I don't suppose that you have the PDF of the paper toy that you could send me. The link on the website is broken! I would love to have the paper toy. It is awesome!

    • Highlandview profile image

      Highlandview 4 years ago

      I love these ideas and I am going to use them this year with my middle school homeschoolers.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 4 years ago

      After reading the other Shakespeare lens, I had to come visit this one too. Great stuff!

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 6 years ago

      Hands-on Shakespeare seems to be really effective. Good job.

    • Shanir LM profile image

      Shanir LM 6 years ago

      Nice lens :) great ways to get students engaged and interested :)

    • profile image

      scrapnsew 6 years ago

      thanks for this info, I will be using this year!

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 6 years ago

      Great Lens! Lots of good information and hands-on fun.

    • profile image

      sandralynnsparks 6 years ago

      A hello from one "Hands On Shakespeare" to another! Rather like finding we've worn the same dress to a party, except we accessorized it differently! ;) Lovely lens!

    • profile image

      lilgirllapbooker 7 years ago

      Lovely Lens as always! Really nice!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Nice lens.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 7 years ago

      Jimmie this is a wonderful lens with valuable resources for teaching ours kids about Shakespeare. Leaving an Angel Blessing!

    • profile image

      QueSea 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens. You bring so many elements together for your readers, it's a joy to behold....and a favorite too.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 7 years ago

      Beautiful job Jimmie, very enjoyable.

    • SpellOutloud profile image

      SpellOutloud 7 years ago

      Lots of wonderful examples of bringing Shakespeare to life!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

      Looks like a fun set of projects for learning Shakespeare. I've got it featured it on my social studies dioramas lens.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I love Shakespeare, but my kids groan will I quote him or pull out his books. I need to try some of your ideas!: )