At Meridian, we believe that the plays of Shakespeare are an exciting resource for learning. They tell wonderful stories, give an opportunity to explore important and eternal themes, and enrich children’s language. For this reason, we have a rolling programme of Shakespeare plays so that each year every class studies a play (usually in the summer term). Yes, every class.
We find that even our very youngest children enjoy hearing a simple story of one of Shakespeare’s plays and then using the clothes provided in the dressing-up box to act out scenes. As they get older, children can produce ‘storyboards’ for the plays, do ‘freeze-framing’ to explore emotions, or discuss a character’s motivations. By the time they are ready to leave us in Year 6 our older children are familiar with some lines from Shakespeare’s plays and have an understanding of how language has changed over time.
Of course, the very best way to experience Shakespeare is in performance and we try to give the children an experience of a theatre production (such as those put on by ‘Shakespeare4Kidz) as often as possible. We also invite acting groups in to hold workshops for us.
We hope very much that when our children go up to secondary school they greet Shakespeare as an old and good friend, not as something difficult and scary!
Meridian is part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, performing an adapted Shakespeare play at the Mumford Theatre, and a member of the teaching staff is on the Teachers' Advisory Panel for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford.