For Goodness’ Sake, Take Time to Study Shakespeare (Part 1)

Previously posted on March 31, 2016 @

It has become my habit to check the children’s list of lessons per subject at the beginning of every quarter (Our homescool is set in 4 quarters per school year). I usually do this by opening the children’s textbooks and scanning through the table of contents. For this past quarter, what stood out was “Shakespeare!” Oh dear, did you know that “For Goodness’ sake” is attributed to the famous bard (a professional storyteller in the Medieval culture)? Well, now you do!

This type of preparation allows me to get a bigger picture of what we are all getting into and how we can incorporate certain lessons for a “multidisciplinary, multilevel and blended” type of learning. At the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I focused on tackling the subjects separately. Eventually, I realized that “merging” lessons from various subjects or creating lesson plans that revolve around various subjects in one activity or project seemed to be more effective. Projects employing a whole lot of hands-on activities made learning more fun and relaxed. All of this combined made it also more doable for us with 4 homeschooling students. For years and years, this approach made much more sense to me. In seeing the lessons ahead, I could plan to advance or hold back (or even skip or scrap, yes scrap!) some lessons depending on how the lessons will somehow blend and fall into place for maximal learning. For instance, this past quarter, I knew we were going to meet Shakespeare in History, specifically Mystery of History Volume 3. I then tweaked our Language and Filipino lessons to include Descriptive Language, Poetry Reading, Elements of Poetry/ Plays. In Math, I knew that my older daughter was going to learn about circles, including solving for the area and circumference so at the back of my head, I was actually playing with the idea challenging the children to create a replica of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. For Reading, I purchased a few cheap books that discussed Shakespeare’s life story and presented two of his famous plays in a way that my two level 6 and 4 students could appreciate. (This was actually a real EUREKA moment because I had found some of these books from SM Southmall Booksale for php75.00 each!) This coming quarter, we may for Social Studies and Philippine Culture, study some of our own well know writers!!!

Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo’s get up. Guess where that ruff came from?

So far, the Study of Shakespeare, this is what was somehow going on in my head….

In addition to all that, I also searched for good online resources to supplement our study. Little did I know that we were setting up what experts identify as “blended learning“. The online sources varied from simple worksheets, teaching videos, lesson plans/text, documentaries to actual performing arts videos. I did a quick preview of an award-winning movie entitled Shakespeare in Love (and took note of the inappropriate scenes) since the Elizabethan language, culture, and historical scenes were portrayed well in this movie. And of course, who could resist the beautiful Viola in Gwyneth Paltrow? I just love how they merged fact and fiction and made it very entertaining and yes educational. The movie had the elements of confusion, mistaken identities, tragedies, deaths, and yes of course, love! Since we already knew the basic facts from our discussion, research and reading, we could not help but appreciate (and not get confused!) this historical fiction movie!

Along the way, we bumped into a controversy (and yes, there is an ongoing online petition calling for an investigation on the authenticity of the claim that it was William Shakespeare himself who really wrote all his famous literary works!) We listened to both sides of the argument. It was really interesting and mind-boggling!

The inspiration in tackling Shakespeare with so much excitement and passion started with this online image:

Wow, who would have thought all of these “lines” would be attributed to William Shakespeare?  As the children’s interest were ignited, I gave them this task. “How sure are we that these lines really came from William Shakespeare?” “Do we just accept it as such just because this image says so?” (In doing this, I am trying to teach the children to be circumspect in curating information sourced online. This is part of making our children digitally responsible netizens.)

So, I asked the kids to choose phrases from the above image and use a worksheet I created to review and study these lines. My older daughter was assigned 10 while her younger brother was assigned 5 lines. See her work below.

<a href=””><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-2309″ src=”; alt=”IMG_9221″ width=”1280″ height=”960″ /></a>

Gino, our level 4 student also had his own!

He also read a simple chapter book on King Lear and broke down the elements of a tragedy this way:

We further extended the lessons on English to include:

A dear friend, and our children’s piano teacher, Ms. Joonee Garcia loves to lend us material that could help supplement our learning. We were ecstatic when she sent us this “Masterpuppet Theatre” activity pack!

Oh, thank you, Teacher Joonee, through this “World of Shakespeare at your Fingertips” activity, we read lines (with some English accent, of course), acted out, changed some backdrops on the theater stage and had loads of fun!

For Filipino, we also discussed commonly used idioms/sayings/ proverbs. (Examples were: “suntok sa buwan, pay may tiyaga may nilaga, matigas ang ulo, itaga sa bato, makapal ang mukha” For more example, check this out!). I ask the student to write some of these in Tagalog sentences and read them aloud. We also read and tried to understand some poems in Tagalog.

I do not really create a day-to-day lesson plan because I have tried many times and I really never end up following my plan. I also adjust along the way as we see how the lesson is progressing. Most of the time, some activities come to mind on the spot, and we implement right away. There are times however that we have to delay some plan due to necessary preparation. But most often than not, we create our lesson plan “as we go”. As much as possible, we want to be more flexible especially when the children decide that they’d like to pursue some aspect of the lesson. For instance, my crafty and artist daughter Raya decided to do a  History and Visual Arts output focusing on Elizabethan Fashion for Women. She was planning to create a magazine type of presentation.

Let me show a sneak peek of some of the kids’ outputs which I plan present more thoroughly in a <a href=””>PART 2 post on Shakespeare.</a>

Watch out for Part 2!

Start thinking and planning your own Shakespeare Unit!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Hebrews 10:24

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