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Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities

by Colleen Aagesen

Series: For Kids

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1653166,261 (3.5)None
Presents the life and works of Shakespeare. Includes activities to introduce Elizabethan times, including making costumes, making and using a quill pen, and binding a book by hand.

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This activity book interspersed with what appear to be well-researched anecdotes of Shakespeare’s life is filled with details about Elizabethan England. There are also many facts that put William Shakespeare in a broader context of Renaissance Europe, noting that Michelangelo died the year Shakespeare was born. The activities all revolve around either Shakespeare’s writing (making quills, inventing new words for things as Shakespeare did, spotting and creating oxymorons), or are imitative of Elizabethan pursuits (how to stage a swordfight, design a coat of arms, make a hornbook). A motivated student would learn a good deal about the famous playwright and the times in which he lived by doing several of the activities.

Students who do not have a prior interest in Shakespeare and not motivated by curriculum to acquire some, may not find the book very engaging, as it suffers by today’s standards from being black and white and a little drab, visually. Many photographs and maps do help bring to life Shakespeare’s world. Sketches clarify the activities, but students would probably be more inclined to try the activities if there were color photographs of the projects. The book would work most effectively as a whole classroom endeavor, so that a teacher could integrate biographical information about Shakespeare with the activities. It is noteworthy that in the Web Sites list at the end of the book, a link is included for http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com, which the author notes discusses controversies about the authorship of some Shakespeare’s plays. A table of contents is included; an index would have been useful. Target audience grades 4-6.

Aagesen, C., & Blumberg, M. (1999). Shakespeare for kids: His life and times : 21 activities. Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review Press. ( )
  karenamorg | Dec 4, 2011 |
Have you grown up thinking that Shakespeare is dry literature forced upon high schoolers by antiquated professors? Think again! Even young children can capture an interest in Shakespeare through attractive materials such as this multi-dimensional biography of the bard.

The heart and soul of the book is the story of Shakespeare's life - charmingly enhanced by Shakespearean phrases (followed by modern translations in parenthesis). Numerous photos, sketches and maps give us a peek at Elizabethan life and architecture and a few scenes from renditions of his plays.

The authors periodically draw in a wide variety of projects and activities related to the storyline. Some are connected with Elizabethan life in a general way, such as making a Pomander ball or creating a Habitat for Birds. Others are more directly related to acting, costuming and Shakespeare himself, such as: learning to juggle, staging a sword fight, designing a coat of arms and composing a sonnet.

This very creative resource could serve as the centerpiece of an Elizabethan history study, an introduction Shakespeare for Middle Schoolers or just a fun summer family project. It could serve a wide age range, but is most appropriate for 4th through 8th grade. The text and projects are quite accessible - most projects could be done independently by older children.
  alivanmom | Nov 21, 2008 |
  OakGrove-KFA | Mar 28, 2020 |
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To my parents, Royce and Charlotte Jean Harper--
The hand that had made you fair hath made you good.
-Colleen Aagesen
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Presents the life and works of Shakespeare. Includes activities to introduce Elizabethan times, including making costumes, making and using a quill pen, and binding a book by hand.

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