Shakespeare's World: an Integrated Unit for Third Grade

byCatherine Boydstun


To teach Shakespeare to third graders or not to teach Shakespeare to third graders? That was my question and at first blush it may seem like a very easy question to answer, but for me, I took the unobvious choice and said, what fun! The students would love to learn about old England with Kings and Queens, swords, and cobblestone roads. We could do a play and bring in dance music and poetry. We could wear costumes, recreate games, cook, make quills, and write on parchment. The possibilities seemed endless. I was tired of the units on friendship, storytelling, and communities. I wanted something new I could get excited about and in turn excite the students about.


As a third grade teacher, I teach all subjects in a self-contained classroom and this unit is designed to be used over a six week period across the subject areas followed by another six weeks of drama. It is heavily weighted toward the arts, with hands-on opportunities for drama, dancing, theater, and visual arts. It additionally has lessons in the core subject areas of literacy, math, science, and social studies. These lessons will provide interesting and challenging curriculum based tasks for students to master while they simultaneously learn about Shakespeare and the 16th century. As they study the past, I would like students to realize how much we have changed as a society, to understand that we all have a rich and interesting past and history, and to perhaps develop an appreciation for classic literature and arts through early and appropriate exposure to Shakespeare.

To begin this unit I have gone into some history and background information on Shakespeare and what 16th century England, particularly London, was like. I will need this information to teach the unit to my students so that I can explain to them in vivid detail what life was like back then. I want to be able to answer their questions, draw pictures, and spark their curiosity. I have had a lot of fun reading about 16th century England and I encourage you to have several books on hand to refer to yourself if you decide to venture into a large scale unit.

This unit may certainly be broken down into smaller chunks and applied to other grade levels as well. My class will be very heterogeneous, with reading levels ranging anywhere from second grade through seventh grade, so the activities I've chosen are easily adaptable for different skill levels. One way to make the unit more difficult for older students would be to focus more on the changes that take place during Shakespeare's lifetime between the Elizabethan period and the Jacobean period at the beginning of the 17th century, when King James begins his rule. Similarly, students could examine the differences between the Middle Ages (the time of Macbeth) and the renaissance and Jacobean periods. Furthermore, a study of the religious issues of the time would certainly increase the difficulty of the curriculum unit.


The lessons taught in the unit are meant to satisfy the requirements of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Third Grade. The background knowledge listed after each subject section will help me weave information from the time period into any discussion that may come up in class. Literacy will comprise the largest section of this unit and will include a five week study of Macbeth coupled with a poetry unit in which students will compose blank verse and sonnets of their own. During these five weeks students will look at the monetary system of 16th century England during our math class and create word problems and make change using the pound in representational (picture) form. In social studies we will listen to music and perform a dance from the period. Students will also explore artifacts from the time period by rotating through stations containing examples of clothing, educational materials, games, food, and writing instruments. Science will be split into two parts, with the beginning of the unit focusing on Copernicus and his ideas of the solar system and the end of the unit focusing on the human body and what medicine and disease were like in the 16th century. Additionally, students will participate in a theatrical production of Macbeth following this unit.

Overarching Theme of Shakespeare's World

Shakespeare's World will be ever-present in our classroom through our Concept Question Board. This is essentially an extremely large bulletin board space or an entire wall where students post questions, ideas, and concepts they have acquired about anything they find that is connected to our unit. I split the wall into two pieces. One half is labeled "Question" and the other half is labeled "Concept". As we work through the unit, the number of items on the wall will grow as I ask students to make postings. Students may discuss items before they are posted, but they don't have to. Items are fluid and may move back and forth from question to concept to question as appropriate. During this unit, I will add a full size outline of a boy and a full size outline of a girl to represent Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Students will use these as a "body biography" to characterize Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as they read by recording quotes from the text on sticky notes to place on the outlines of the bodies. Quotes that show what the character is thinking will be placed on the outline's head. Quotes that show what the character is doing will be placed on the arms and legs. Finally, quotes that show how the character is feeling will be placed on the trunk.


I want my students to improve their literacy skills by studying Macbeth and Sonnet 18. I am quite determined to use Macbeth, despite concerns about its violence. I think that Macbeth has a simple plot. It is easy to understand compared to the complex plots and subplots of the comedies and histories. I think third graders are able to understand the lust for power and the guilt that ensues from doing the wrong thing. To teach Macbeth, I will use the comic book version and add the names of the speaking characters to the dialogue for clarity. I have chosen a comic book version by Timber Frame Publications because it is less violent than the original text, reduces the number of characters in the play, uses much of Shakespeare's original text, and adds an explanation at the end of each section.

Literature mini-lessons will include previewing the text using probable passages, text coding for cause and effect, flow charts for sequencing, discussion on paper, double entry journals, discussion of types of figurative language and poetry vocabulary (hyperbole, couplet, personification, alliteration, sonnet, line, verse, stanza, metaphor, simile).

For probable passages, the teacher selects a group of words. I usually use about ten, and list these words for the students on the board. Students then work in small groups to make predictions about what will happen in the story. Predictions must use some of the words from the list.

The text coding activity is done using sticky notes. Pairs of students work together to read the assigned portion of the play and whenever they come to something you have assigned them to look for, they write a symbol you devise on their post-it and stick in on the text. For example, I might ask the students to code Macbeth for cause and effect as they read with a C for cause and E for effect and a matching number if they go together, like C1 and E1. Students might put the C1 on Macbeth winning the battle against the Thane of Cawdor and E1 on being made the new Thane of Cawdor.

Discussions on paper are completed using a piece of chart paper for every four students and four different colored markers. Each student chooses a marker and keeps that marker for the duration of the activity. The teacher prepares a question in advance and tapes or glues it in the center of the paper. When the teacher says begin each student has one minute to read and respond to the question. Then students rotate and read what the student next to them wrote. The teacher says go again and the students have another minute to respond to their neighbor's response to the question. This rotating and responding in writing is repeated until everyone is back in their original places. At that point students are allowed to verbally discuss the question.

I will spend approximately five weeks with the students reading the play and teaching the poetry unit. Macbeth is set in Scotland prior to Shakespeare's time, but as a result there are some contrasts that can be made between the text and the 16th century, such as Thane versus the English nobility, and a middle ages castle versus a more modern castle.

At the end of Macbeth, each student will create a Macbeth poster.1 They will cut the poster board into a shape that is related to the play. The poster should display three drawings from the play, the three most beautiful, powerful, or important quotes from the play, and answers to the following questions written in first person point of view: What three things would you change if you were Macbeth? (Write this from his point of view.) Lady Macbeth? (Write this from her point of view.) What is the witches' opinion of Macbeth? (Write this from the witches point of view.) If you could write Banquo a letter, what would you tell him? (Write this from your point of view.)

Background Information for Literacy


William Shakespeare was born in a small market town in 1564 called Stratford-upon-Avon. His parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. They took him to be baptized at Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday, April 16th. Churches required that baptisms be held within a few days after birth so historians have assigned April 23rd as Shakespeare's birth date, although no one knows this for certain. Shakespeare died on April 23rd, 1616, so he lived 52 years. Shakespeare had a brother two years younger than he, Gilbert, and a sister five years younger, Mary. Their father was a whittawer, someone who transforms hides into white leather, and a glover, someone who makes gloves, and he also dealt in timber, barley, and wool. On Thursdays, John Shakespeare would take his gloves, purses, aprons and belts to sell at the market. He also served on the town council and rose to the highest elected office, bailiff (which is like our mayor). Shakespeare attended petty school and probably grammar school, but it is unclear exactly where he went to school. However, when Shakespeare was about 14 his father began having money troubles so he was unable to send Shakespeare on to Cambridge or Oxford. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and they had Susanna in 1583 and twins, Hamnet and Judith, in 1585. Shakespeare left his family and went to London in 1586 and began writing plays, continuing until 1610. When the theater closed due to plaque he wrote sonnets and longs poems until they reopened. In 1594 he was an actor and a playwright with The Lord Chamberlain's Men acting company. In 1603, Shakespeare's company was given a royal patent and renamed The Kings' Man and performed regularly at the court of King James I. Shakespeare left London around 1610 and returned to Stratford a wealthy man. He lived there until his death. A plaque on his grave reads, "Good friend, for Jesus sake forbear/To dig the dust enclosed here./Blessed be the man that spares these stones/And cursed be he that moves my bones." Shakespeare wrote 36 plays, 154 sonnets, and two narrative poems. William Shakespeare invented many new words that have endured, such as alligator, anchovy, critic, embrace, varied, gossip, and puke.


People believed in witchcraft in the 16th century. Many women and a few men were put to death because they were suspected of committing evil deeds in complicity with demonic forces. Suspects were tortured in quest of confessions. If they confessed they were guilty and if they didn't confess they must be guilty and be using witchcraft to keep from confessing. One witch hunter used to tie people's thumbs and toes together and throw them in the pond. If they floated they were guilty. If the suspect sank, they were innocent and the witch hunter would try to rescue the suspect and resuscitate them if possible, but the suspect often died.

Arts Education

I will teach theater arts through acting out Macbeth. The class will actually participate in a presentation of Macbeth for their parents. Students will learn about developing a character and playing a role, with blocking and movement, as well as scenery development. Students will create costumes and props such as goblets and swords out of swimming pool "noodles" to stage a sword fight. Students will participate in several improvisation activities. In one activity they will form a circle and pass an object around the circle such as a magic marker. The teacher will call out what students are to pretend the object is to be as they pass it and the teacher changes what the object is every three or four people. For example, as students are passing it the teacher calls, "It's fragile. It's sticky. It makes you sick. It's fragrant. It makes you itch. It's cold." The students are to treat the object as such. Another activity they will participate in is to create a setting. The teachers will tell the students where they are — for example, the beach. Students will then close their eyes and if the teacher touches their shoulder they should make a sound that they hear at the beach and keep making it until the end of the activity. Each student selected should make a different sound. When it has ended those that were not selected should describe what they heard. Eventually, these two activities should help students create the stage environment for Macbeth and give them some ideas about how to treat props and what to say in the street if they are part of a crowd scene.

I will teach an authentic dance from the 16th century for dance education. I ordered the 2003 edition of the DVD HOW TO DANCE THROUGH TIME, Volume III to learn how to do Renaissance dance. It contains authentic music and fashions from the era with step by step instructions and demonstrations on how to dance an Italian dance, which very likely might have made its way to the English court. I will attempt to use this to instruct myself in a dance as well as the students, and we will also use this information to perform a dance. However, this dance is quite complicated and I am continuing to look for other possibilities for dances. It's no wonder that the nobility had to take dancing their entire lives to learn how to do these things.

Students will listen to music from the 16th century. They will listen to the lute, virginal, spinet, harpsichord, and other brass and string instruments by composers William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Morley, and John Dowland on CD. One activity that I will use with the students is a questioning activity. I will play a selection and ask the students to listen and while they are listening to write down what they hear. I will then play the song again and ask the students to this time write down what they think. Finally, I will play the song a third time and ask the students what they wonder. Then we will have a class discussion.

Students will look at visual art from the 16th century in the form of portraits by artists such as Hans Holbein, and learn the purpose of these portraits. These portraits were used to transmit and record history, to proclaim status, and for religious purposes. I will ask students to create a self portrait in Renaissance style. Students will also identify the three main purposes for art in any society. First, that it was functional, such as in a quilt, furniture, goblets, altar pieces, and in jewelry. Second, that it was cultural, such as religious jewelry, and jewelry to reflect social status. Last, that art is personal, an outlet for emotion, enjoyment, or to make money. A possible homework assignment for the purpose of art will be for students to go home and identify any art and its purpose(s) in their home.

Background Information for the Arts


Theater in London had to compete with bull- and bear-baiting for an audience. The wealthy sat in the upper areas and tradesmen and apprentices stood in the pit. Admission went up with the level of the seat. Pit admission cost a penny. Public theaters were not visited by the aristocracy or by respectable women unless they were accompanied by their friends and/or husbands.

Dance was an art that people practiced before they performed. No one just went out onto the floor and made up moves. Everyone learned certain steps and then went out together and did exactly the same dance. Dances performed in the city and by the nobility were more elaborate than those performed in the country and by lower classes.

Music in sixteenth century England was simple and not chord based. It was composed in interwoven melodic lines. In religion, the entire emphasis was on the religious message that was being sung instead of the music so as not to distract from the words in sermons or hymns. Music was very important in Shakespeare's time, and Queen Elizabeth herself was a skillful player on both the lute and the virginal. Many other instruments became popular during this period including the spinet, harpsichord, and other brass and string instruments. During Shakespeare's lifetime musicians began to move into central houses in the city and to form guilds. Music became much more emotional in character. Popular composers included William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Morley, and John Dowland.

Social Studies

As part of these studies, students will use a trunk that I will fill with faux 16th century period clothing with descriptions and artifacts for the students to use in stations in the classroom. Using the trunk stations, I will include or have students make pomander balls, learn how to juggle, learn about social classes, and study the Tudor family tree. They will make their own family tree, look at some examples of coats of arms and make their own coat of arms, make a hornbook, cook Apple Moye, play games like Teetotum and Nine Men's Morris2, and make ink and a quill pen and use them to write a sonnet. I will also have Shakespeare picture books, a summary of the different plays that Shakespeare wrote with a collection of paper dolls as a station, a book of sonnets, renaissance music at a listening station, draw a map of Scotland and label it, draw a map of England and label it, practice knitting and or needlework with a parent volunteer.

Background Information for Social Studies

Social Life

Elizabethan society was a highly class-conscious society. The class structure was comprised of four major divisions: 1) gentlemen, 2) citizens or burgesses, 3) yeomen, and 4) artificers or laborers, with many subcategories. Gentlemen include the king at the top followed by dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, and barons, and these are called gentlemen of the greater sort, or lords and noblemen. Next come knights, esquires, and last of all untitled gentlemen. Many persons called "Mr." were the younger sons of titled aristocrats. Women's status depended on that of their husbands and they could not vote, own property, or testify against their husbands in court.

Gentlemen were seen as educated, respectable, and able to display coats of arms based on any fame the family had attained. Shakespeare himself went to immense trouble to recover a coat of arms that had been lost by his father. Gentlemen had to be able to live without working. The next class, citizens, were essentially businessmen, the burgesses being the upper level businessmen. They worked for a living, and controlled the trade in a town. Citizens could buy a landed estate and apply to the Herald's College for a Coat of Arms so they could move to be a Gentleman. In the last class, yeomen were essentially the supervisors of the laborers, ensuring the work got done, and the laborers performed manual labors and had few rights in the commonwealth. Forms of address were used to distinguish between the classes. Goodman and goodwife could be used for a yeoman, Sir for a superior, Sirrah for an inferior.

Most of the population was not literate, only about 20% being able to read. These included the nobility, clergy, lawyers, scientists, and possibly some merchants. Literature from the time period talks about grand castles and banquets but most of the population didn't live this way, so these stories are not typical for most of the people that lived in this time period.

The stratification of the classes was reflected in burial locations, who got educated, sumptuary laws and culture, how you dressed your household, and what you could afford to buy. Servants who worked close to the family were dressed better then those who worked farther away.


Church attendance was required by law and the church kept track of baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Church activities took up several hours on Sundays. Royalty ruled by divine right. The Church had many festivals which are still celebrated: Easter, Whitsunday, Midsummer Eve, Michaelmas – a late September feast – and Christmas, followed by Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany. There were other celebrations. One was called the "beating of the bound" when the whole parish walked around the border stones of the parish, stopping at each stone to beat the children so that they wouldn't forget where the border of the parish was and wander off.3

Housing in London

Some of London's houses were nicely built and well planned for and others were little shanties stuck in places wherever there was room. Buildings were usually two to three stories but could go up to five. Often there would be a shop on the bottom floor and houses on the top floors. Beams were connected with a sort of woven wickerwork that was covered by plaster or thick mud. Walls were thick and, in Tudor style, the beams were painted black and the walls white. Windows were tiny and were made by blowing bubbles from molten glass and pressing them flat, which often left circular ripples in the glass. Streets were often narrow, crooked, and dark, and inhabitants were required to hang lamps at night from their windows. Water could be obtained from the polluted and salty Thames or carried from local springs. There were attempts to bring in new water sources. People traveled around the city by water taxi or by carriage if they could afford it. 4

Guilds in London

Guilds oversaw production or a service. New guilds could be formed with the invention of new technology or products. Sometimes guilds split: thus the apothecaries split from the grocers and the bowyers and the fletchers split. Membership in a guild could be acquired in three ways: 1) by being born into it, 2) by serving an apprenticeship, or 3) by making direct cash payment, which could be quite expensive. Guild members marched in processions, wore regalia - silk with fur trim - held ceremonial dinners, met to discuss trade matters, and were very prominent figures in the city. Some of the biggest guilds in London were the Goldsmith's Company, the Mercers' and Drapers' Companies, and the Grocers' Company. Other guilds included barbers, musicians, saddlers, glaziers, wheelwrights, candle makers using tallow, candle makers using beeswax, and stationers. Those successfully completing an apprenticeship could become journeymen and were eligible to attempt to work their way up the guild ladder, eventually opening up their own shop and taking on apprentices of their own.


Children were not required to attend school and those that did were usually in a one room school house learning their ABC's. These schools were often sponsored by the church, as educators began to believe that there could be some increased benefit in being saved if you were able to read the scriptures. Most petty school attendees were between the ages of five and seven. Attending school for two years, these children would focus on reading. Writing was an altogether separate endeavor. Writing cost more money because the student needed a desk to write on, paper, a quill pen, and a knife to sharpen the pen. Writing also had no clear religious significance or usefulness, whereas reading was needed to read the scriptures. Children could not be spared for school longer than two years because they had to help work on the farm and help take care of younger brothers and sisters.

Students who were learning to read only needed a bench to sit on and they used a "horn book" for their lessons. It was named for the thin sheet of translucent horn that covered the letters and words that were displayed on a wooden paddle. The horn book usually had printed on it the alphabet and possibly the Lord's Prayer or other short verses from the Bible. After the horn book the petty-school pupil would progress to the primer, which contained prayers and the doctrine of the Church of England.

Grammar school was begun at age seven for boys. There they would study Latin and sometimes Greek until the age of twelve or thirteen. Other languages, together with math, history, and geography, were sometimes optional choices. Girls were tutored at home in these subjects and did not attend school with the boys. These schools were often boarding schools. Corporal punishment was used. Students received two weeks off at Christmas and Easter, with no other break. School lasted Monday through Saturday and sometimes students might have a half day on Thursday or Saturday. After grammar school, boys might go onto the university or to an apprenticeship.

Universities were for men only, a restriction which stayed in effect until the 19th century. Students started university at age 13-15. Oxford and Cambridge were the two Universities close to London, about 50 miles away.

Math and Science

Money, space, and the human body are all topics that third graders must study, and these topics will be approached in this unit from a historical perspective. There are many excellent trade books to help introduce the history of these subjects to students. I will have students compare the units of money that were used in 16th century England to the monetary systems of today. The number of coins that were available far exceeds what we have to manage today and the monetary scale was fairly complicated. I will have students make five times life size models of the coins using silver, gold, and copper scrap book paper. I will have students put the coins in order from least to greatest, and then pairs of students will create monetary word problems for each other to solve, using manipulatives as necessary.

For the science curriculum students will study what scientists of the day thought of the rotation of the earth, sun, and planets. When we begin our study of the movement of the sun, moon, and planets, I always like to solicit what the students think about how these celestial bodies move. This is where I will introduce the scientific theories of Shakespeare's time and explain that scientists then believed that the earth was the center of the universe. I will then tell them about Copernicus and the rest of the information listed in the background section.

Third grade science involves a study of the human skeletal structure, so I will discuss with students what information current day scientists can obtain from examining a 16th century skeleton, such as diet, age, and any tight clothing that was worn habitually. Students will also briefly look at what medicine and disease were like in the 16th century to help them understand that medicine has a past as well and that our progress in this area has been great. Students will make pomander balls to ward off the plague by poking cloves into thick skinned oranges, lemons, or grapefruits that have been randomly pierced by a fork. Then they will set the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. After the fruit dries in a sunny spot for two weeks the students will wrap it up in decorative netting, lace, and ribbons.5

Background Information for Math and Science

Monetary Systems

Money was divided into the pence, shillings, and pounds. Pence or a penny was about the price of a chicken on a farm (not dressed), a shilling was worth a pig, and a pound was worth a cow. These coins were supposed to be their real weight in gold or silver, with one pound equal to twenty shillings and one shilling equal to twelve pence. The face value of the coin was stamped on it. There were also some special coins that might be found listed in English literature. A sovereign is a large gold piece worth a pound or slightly more with the picture of the ruler who had it issued stamped on it. The royal was a gold coin worth twelve to fourteen shillings. The angel was a gold coin with the archangel Michael treading on a dragon and was usually worth ½ a pound. The noble was issued by Henry VIII at a value of 1/3 of a pound but eventually was thought of as worth the same as an angel. Coins that were made out of silver were the crown, which was worth five shillings. The half-crown and the shilling were also silver coins. The sixpence was worth half a shilling. The groat was worth four pence and the farthing was worth a fourth of a penny. There were also the threepenny piece, the half groat, the penny, the half penny, and the three-farthings piece. Copper coins were not introduced until the 17th century and until then there was a shortage of lower value coins. The farthing was so small that it was not made and the silver half penny was only a little bigger than a shirt button. People didn't want to use anything but copper and silver to make the coins because they were afraid they would not be able to tell a counterfeit coin from a good coin. Counterfeiters tried to produce money by clipping little pieces of coins off until they had enough to melt them into a large chunk.

Space Science

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) were scientists of the period who studied at Padua University in Italy. It was believed at the time that the sun and all of the known planets revolved around the earth. Copernicus proposed the heliocentric or sun-centered theory. This theory proposed that the sun was the center of the universe and the earth and all of the planets and stars revolved around the sun. This theory was dismissed by most; however, Galileo believed in it and later Sir Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation was able to provide the proof for the theory's general acceptation in the scientific community. Galileo built a superior telescope and used it to discover the moons of Jupiter and the phases of the planet Venus.

Medicine and the Plague

The medical profession included physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries. Physicians were the most important and they were not allowed to shed blood. They diagnosed a patient using astrology having first determined their horoscope. Then they looked at the four "humors" that circulated through the body, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile, and blood, coming up with a remedy to put these humors back in balance. The imbalance of the humors was what they thought caused the disease in the first place. Surgeons were below the physicians and they could shed blood. Their trade came out of being barbers and using sharp instruments to shave people and cut hair. Apothecaries dealt in medicines and were the lowest of the medical profession, but could do quite well if they also dealt in tobacco.

The black plague killed around ¼ to 1/3 of England's population in the mid 14th century. There were three outbreaks in the 16th century that were not as serious. The plague never left London and it got worse during the summers. During the worst periods, the theaters would be closed and quarantines put in place. The two main types of plague by the bacillus Pastuerella pestis were the pneumonic form, affecting the lungs and quickly fatal, and the bubonic form, which would make the lymph glands swell and which could sometimes be recovered from. The plague was caused by fleas from rats, but Elizabethans saw it as a judgment from God and the remedy was to repent. They also recommended eating onions roasted with molasses and pepper, carrying cakes of arsenic under one's armpits, and wearing charms and amulets. Those who could afford to went to the country to stay when there was an outbreak of plague.

Closure Activities

Students will research renaissance recipes and have a banquet to celebrate the end of our unit.

Classroom Activities

Classroom Activity #1 Pre-Unit Activity

Have a parent meeting or parent letter three weeks in advance of your unit. Send out a letter to your parents or better yet have meeting WITH FOOD and explain to the parents what you are doing with your unit. Show them the version of Macbeth you are going to use. This unit is based on using the Comic Book Shakespeare Macbeth by Timber Frame Publications. Go over the gory parts of Macbeth with them so that they can address concerns they have with you about the content. You can always eliminate a part of the text by cutting and pasting or switch to a storybook version if they have concerns. This is also a good time to solicit volunteers for making costumes, helping with scenery for producing a play, sending in supplies for the projects, or coming in to help read with the individual students.

Classroom Activity #2 Sample Literacy Guide for Week 1

Literacy – Introduce Shakespeare by giving students some famous quotes, "I am not bound to please thee with my answers", "Be great in act, as you have been in thought" "A Horse, A Horse! My kingdom for a horse!" "To be or not to be: that is the question." Explain that the person who wrote these lines was a very famous Englishman who lived in the 16th and 17th century. Introduce the concept question board with our topic of Shakespeare's world. Locate England on the map, including Stratford upon Avon and London. Introduce Shakespearean (or Elizabethan) English to the students and have them transform some simple sentences into sentences containing the words 'tis and thee and thine, etc. Introduce the Shakespearean plays under the headings of comedies, tragedies, and histories. Explain that Macbeth is a tragedy. Review the cast of characters listed at the beginning of their comic book. Pull out ten vocabulary words from Act 1 Scene 1 and have students make predictions before reading, using these words about what will happen in the beginning of the play. Employ a variety of reading strategies through the week as your read to build fluency, i.e. partner reading, choral reading, popcorn reading, silent reading, rereading, etc.


Day 1 – Act 1, Scene 1 and 2 Probable Passages, Concept Question Board (CQB)

Day 2 – Act 1, Scene 3 Personal Vocabulary Log (PVL), Probable Passages, CQB

Day 3 – Act 1, Scene 4 and 5 Cause and Effect Charade Mini Lesson, PVL, CQB

Day 4 – Act 1, Scene 6 and 7 Sequencing Mini Lesson Flow Chart, PVL, QCB

Day 5 – Act 2, Scene 1 and 2Discussion on Paper, PVL, CQB

Classroom Activity #3 Make A Hornbook6

Materials For Each Student

Cardboard, 12" long by 6" wide

4 brads

double sided tape

clear contact paper or plastic page protector

heavy-duty hole puncher

8 1/2 by 5 1/2 piece white writing paper, ruler, scissors,


  1. Draw a rectangle 9" long by 6" wide on the cardboard and draw a 3" long by 2" wide handle at the bottom. Cut out this spade-shaped cardboard piece.
  2. Write the alphabet in lower case and upper case letters on the white writing paper.
  3. Center the paper on top of the cardboard.
  4. Attach it at the top and bottom with double sided tape.
  5. Cut a 9x6 clear plastic protector and align on top of the cardboard paddle.
  6. Punch a hole in all four corners of the cardboard and secure with the brads.

Classroom Activity #4 Recipe for Apple Moye7

*I intend to try making this in a Dutch oven using coals outside

Ingredients for 4-6 people

8-10 applesknife

1/4 cup watersaucepan

2 egg yolksfork

2 tablespoons butterglass measuring cup

1 teaspoon cinnamonmeasuring spoons

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup sugar

  1. Peel and core the apples, quarter them, and put them in the saucepan with the water.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Mash the apples with a fork and blend in the egg yolks, butter, spices, and sugar.
  4. Cook over very low heat for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot or chilled, with or without ice cream or cookies.

Annotated Bibliography

Aagesen, C. and Blumberg, M. Shakespeare for Kids His Life and Times 21 Activities.

Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1999.

This book is one of the most valuable I found and has historical information on England and Shakespeare's life as well as lots of great activities for the classroom. If you can only get one book, this is the one I would select.

Colville, B. William Shakespeare's Hamlet. New York: Dial Books, 2004.

A simplified prose picture book of Hamlet that will be used in the reading center for social studies.

Colville, B. William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. New York: Dial Books, 2003.

A simplified prose picture book of Twelfth Night that will be used in the reading center for social studies.

Colville, B. William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. New York: Dial Books, 1999.

A simplified prose picture book of Romeo and Juliet that will be used in the reading center for social studies.

Colville, B. William Shakespeare's Macbeth. New York: Dial Books, 1997.

A simplified prose picture book of Macbeth that could be substituted for the play if an easier version is needed. Beautifully illustrated.

Foster, C., Johnson, L. Shakespeare To Teach or Not to Teach. Chandler: Five Star

Publications, 1994.

This book has some basic ideas about how to work with Shakespearean literature and children.

Greaves, S. Comic Book Shakespeare Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Kent: Timber

Frame Publications, 2003.

This is a comic book version of a modified version of the original text of Macbeth with a translation into modern language. It is the book the students in my classroom will be using to read Macbeth.

Hussey, Maurice. The World of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries: A Visual

Approach. New York: Viking Press, 1971.

This book has interesting illustrations and historical information on Shakespeare and 16th century England.

Kastan, D., Kastan, M., Ed. Poetry for Young People William Shakespeare. New York:

Scholastic, 2000.

This book is a collection of poetry written by Shakespeare from both his plays and his sonnets.

Laroque, Francois. The Age of Shakespeare. New York: Abrams, 1993.

This book is a good resource for what life was like in Shakespearean times and has many interesting illustrations.

Lindquist, T. Seeing the Whole Through Social Studies. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2002.

This is an excellent resource for classroom activities that involve the social sciences. The Macbeth poster idea came from here.

McMurtry, Jo. Understanding Shakespeare's England: A Companion for the American Reader. Hamden: Archon, 1989.

This book is a great resource for learning about life in 16th century England and how that is reflected in Shakespeare's writings.

Neslon, P., Daubert, T. Starting With Shakespeare Successfully Introducing Shakespeare

to Children. Westport: Teacher Ideas Press, 2000.

This is an excellent resource for teaching the plays to children and it does include Macbeth. It has specific questions and strategies to apply in the classroom.

Packer, T. Tales From Shakespeare. New York: Scholastic, 2004.

This is a collection of Shakespeare's plays retold in simple prose. It does include Macbeth. It has few illustrations, but is well done.

Rooley, A. Director. John Dowland First Booke of Songes. London: Decca Record

Company, 1989.

This is a CD of John Dowland's music that I will use in the classroom.

Tierney, T. Great Characters from Shakespeare Paper Dolls. Mineola: Dover

Publications, 2000.

This is a book of paper dolls and the costumes that the main characters would have worn in some of the major Shakespearean productions. Plan to use it in the social studies centers.

Tyson, J. Director. How to Dance Through Time Volume III DVD. Kentfield: Dancetime

Publications, 2003.


1. Lindquist 2002

2. Aagesen 1999

3. McMurtry 1989

4. McMurtry 1989

5. Aagesen 1999

6. Aagesen 1999

7. Aagesen 1999

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