Well, perhaps not an ode. But an honorary post, nonetheless. For today would be William Shakespeare's 450th birthday.
So I thought I'd write about ways to incorporate the great playwright and poet's works into the classroom.
Sadly, I don't think I ever actually studied Shakespeare until middle school when I went on a history field trip to a Shakespeare Festival to see a Julius Caesar performance. (I LOVED it, by the way). "But, isn't Shakespeare too advanced for the elementary child?", you ask. Absolutely not! On the contrary, I think it could spark some really interesting and in-depth work.
Why, just recently while 'practice teaching' at a local school, I had a child ask for a lesson on calligraphy. I thought, "Why not print out one of Shakespeare's sonnets and let her practice her calligraphy penmanship whilst soaking in his beautiful words at same the time?"
The sonnet was a hit! Before bringing out the quills and ink, the child and her friend read it aloud, trying to decipher the antiquated verbiage. They wondered and giggled with delight about words such as thee and thou and hath.
For a more uniquely Montessori activity, Shakespeare can also be used to compare grammar styles using the grammar symbols. The child could first symbolize a work by Shakespeare.
Next, the child might also symbolize a modern poem or sonnet, then compare the two writing styles.
And for a final Shakespeare-related activity geared toward children in the second plane of development, who doesn't think that they might be interested in acting out a Shakespearean play? Of course they would!
I imagine a scene of excited young ones transforming one end of the classroom into a stage--some donning period attire and others dressed as sprites or fairies. All reciting the magnificent prose from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
And on that note, I'll leave you with Puck's farewell monologue:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
-Puck, from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream