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    Shakespeare with Littles

    January 26, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]B[/dropcap]efore I begin, please know that I am only using Nesbit’s and Lamb’s children’s Shakespeare books. They are enough for now for my little ones. E.-Age-Nine will continue to attempt the real thing, of course, but when I say  Shakespeare with Littles I mean children’s Shakespeare. So that’s today’s disclaimer.

    I’ve been reading said Shakespeare stories as assigned for Year One. I didn’t do this with my oldest in Year One, so he’s been joining us in this venture. I quickly found that Daughter A. could not follow the story unless we acted it out. Shakespeare often wove complicated plots, and even summaries can be complex, especially when dealing with mistaken identities, which can be difficult for six-year-olds to understand.

    The preschoolers were emphatically not interested.

    Until yesterday.

    Shakespeare with Littles: Doing Shakespeare with preschoolers and elementary students without losing my mind.

    After months of acting out plots using smallish stuffed animals, I had had it. If I divided a play into two days, I never remembered which animal was which character on the following day, which was a source of frustration for everyone. And, of course, it took fifteen minutes just to gather the animals, which were always discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

    All of this is to say that whoever invented the Shakespearean Masterpuppet Theater is a genius. Let’s be honest. Today is the day to buy one. I was going to blog about this anyway, but I was shocked when I looked up the link. I paid fifteen bucks for this set {and I consider it worth every penny}, but it’s bargain priced at less than four dollars today! Wow…you guys actually bought out all of Amazon’s stock. Here is a new link to Amazon for the best deal I can find.

    Every character is not included, mind you. But we don’t care. Yesterday, we did As You Like It. We found Rosalind and Orlando easily enough. On the back of the Rosalind card is even Rosalind-dressed-as-Ganymede. Perfect! Mistaken identity crisis averted!

    Rosalind and Orlando

    We then proceeded to pick out cards that fit the parts. This guy? He looks like a mean duke. This guy? He looks enough like how we think of Oliver. And so on and so forth until we had a collection of fitting cards.

    Little fingers inserted in the cards, we were ready for showtime, with backdrops to set the scenery.

    People always say that Shakespeare wrote to be seen and heard rather than read silently. I agree. What I didn’t expect was that once we incorporated backdrops and character puppets, the preschoolers would suddenly think that Shakespeare was the greatest guy who ever wrote.

    In all, a successful Shakespeare with littles, I think.


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  • Reply Crunchy_Conservative January 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    THANK YOU!! I already have coloring sheets and puppets for our first Shakespeare play, but I’m going to order this for the next one.

    I love it when moms share items that have worked for them!

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I updated the post with a new link as ya’ll bought out all the stock! This new price isn’t quite a low, but it is still about a third of what I paid.

  • Reply sara January 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    awesome! (Unless you’re one of those who only uses that word to describe God, in which case, I take it back.)

    I’ve been drawing stick figures to illustrate the stories. I’ve felt kind of bad about this since I know I’m “supposed to” let the kids hear the text for themselves and they should be able to narrate after a single reading and blah blah blah. I feel better knowing that other people’s littles have trouble with all the characters too.

    I am thinking about using the “wee folk” I’ve been making using Sally Mavor’s book to act them out. My husband and oldest recently made a table top puppet theater so maybe we’ll give that a try too.

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... January 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Oh my…I WANT!! We’ve been using a Shakespeare “notebook” in which dd draws out the story etc but these would be SO FUN!!!

    Say, do you know offhand the html for the strike through? You gave me a link and now I don’t have the link! *blush* THANK YOU!

  • Reply Mahers Hill Academy January 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Neat! Thanks so much for posting about this!

  • Reply Heather January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Yippee – I just bought it! We had resorted to stuffed animals with taped-on name tags. My kids thought it was funny, but I think this will be a better option…

  • Reply dawn January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We’re about to start some Shakespeare, so I ordered one for me. My MIL does some of the HSing for my nephew, so I ordered one for her 🙂

  • Reply Daisy January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Awesome! I just went and bought it. DragonFly is loving Tales from Shakespeare right now. His birthday is coming up and that theater will make a fun present. Thanks so much!

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