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How to Introduce Your Kids to Shakespeare by Playing with Words

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Reading Shakespeare with kids can be fun. Yes. I said FUN.

Shakespeare was a master wordsmith and his creative use of language is a fantastic way to introduce your kids to The Bard.

From his creative words that we still use today to his amazing insults, reading Shakespeare can be a ton of fun and a great way to introduce him to your kids.

Shakespeare with Kids can be fun when you start with his language.

Shakespeare for Kids

Introducing your kids to the words and phrases of Shakespeare is a great way to lay the foundation for future learning about The Bard.

Did you know that we credit William Shakespeare with inventing over 1400 words?

There are so many ways to have fun with the language of Shakespeare.

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Introducing Shakespeare: General Knowledge

What did Shakespeare look like?  Believe it or not, we don’t know a whole lot about the Bard’s personal life. It’s even difficult to know if our famous images of him are accurate! You can see some of those images on this site with a brief statement about their potential accuracy.

Who Was William Shakespeare by Celeste Mannis. This easy-to-read book will provide your kids with a history of Shakespeare, The Globe, and his works. Pair it with this quick, fun unit study from The Waldock Way.

Shakespeare for Kids: Playing with Language

Wordsmith Websites

Words we credit to Shakespeare – These are the words he invented, meaning that he was the first one to write them down.

There is also a great video with 10 words that Shakespeare used and we don’t know what they mean, but use parental caution. The assumed meaning of one word is “prostitute” or “loose woman” and that is shared in the video.

Mixed-Up Word Games – Pop these up on the screen and play along with kids for fun. There are anagrams and more!

Expressions from Shakespeare – I wouldn’t use these as a worksheet necessarily, but I would discuss them with my kids. It would be fun to pick one and illustrate it.

Online Shakespeare Word Games – Two games you can play with the kids are on this page. I really like the second one – Weird Words. See if you can guess the meanings.

Teach your kids shakespeare by introducing them to his words.

Fun with Insults

Hey there you ill-faced fox!

Did you know that Shakespeare was the master of creatively crafted insults? And I’ll be honest, silly insults are a fantastic way to engage kids when you are introducing Shakespeare.

Online Insult Generator.  NOTE: While you can land on an “idle butt”, the spinner could also land on an “insolent ass”. I believe both “bit-h” and “ass” are on the noun side, so once again…use discretion.

My kids and I quickly hit “spin” if it lands on a word they shouldn’t repeat. We had a great time and the kids and I still walk around the house and occasionally call someone a “scurvy weed” after a fun afternoon on this insult generator.

Make your own Insult Generator. Keep it clean and pick the words you want to use from this site. Put them in three bags and let the insult generating begin as you pick a word out of each bag.

Make your own Compliment Generator. While the insults are fun, if you prefer to play with compliments instead (or in addition to the insults) then you can use the lists found on this site.

May Shakespearean insult T-shirt! Click for even more ideas about having fun with Shakespeare insults with your kids.

Shakespeare for Kids: Fun and Games

How about a Shakespeare insult collection on a T-shirt? I love mine! (pictured above)

These band-aids are sure to bring a smile.

Shakespeare Insult Generator. Play with the spiral flipbook version. (Note: Rip out the words you aren’t comfortable with. I suspect there are only 2-3.)

Magnetic Shakespeare – Stick the words on the fridge or a magnet board and let the kids play.  (NOTE: Be sure to check out the words first and pull out any you aren’t comfortable with. There is a curse word or two in this set.)

Shakespeare with Kids: Helpful Books

Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe and illustrated by John Shelley. This one is my favorite picture book about William Shakespeare.

The pages on the left contain a story about the history of London, the theater scene, as well as Shakespeare and his works. The words in the story that are bolded are words and phrases we credit to Shakespeare. The pages on the right explain the meaning of the phrases and where you can find them in his plays.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. This book is a handy resource for understanding and memorizing Shakespeare. The book includes twenty-four passages for memorization as well as history and explanations. This is a must have!

To Sleep Perchance to Dream: A Child’s Book of Rhymes by William Shakespeare and illustrated by James Mayhew. This one is perfect for introducing your kids to well-known lines and passages from Shakespeare’s works. It is also perfect for a Shakespeare Poetry Teatime.

Enjoying Shakespeare’s Words

After a week of enjoying Shakespeare with my kids, I shared a summary on Facebook:

Hope this fun introduction to the Bard leaves you feeling less intimidated and more inspired to tackle the words of Shakespeare!  

Of course, the learning and fun doesn’t have to stop here. There are so many great ways to introduce your kids to Shakespeare. You can read great Shakespeare books for kids or learn different ways to introduce your kids to his plays.

Shakespeare Related Posts:

Find all of the best Shakespeare Books for kids


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