2016 is a very special year in the world of the arts, marking 400 years since the passing of one of Britain’s most famous and influential playwrights: William Shakespeare. While your children may still be a little too young to be curling up with a copy of Macbeth in the evening, this is still a great opportunity for them to start learning about Shakespeare and discovering what it means to get creative. Why not celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday this April by holding your own exciting ‘Shakespeare Day’ at home?
The official celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon are held on 23rd April, but you can have fun learning about Shakespeare any day of the week! By thinking up some great Shakespeare activities for children, you can help to get your kids interested in plays, poetry, and drama, and give them some really cool William Shakespeare facts to share with their teachers and friends, too. For example, did you know that Shakespeare used multiple spellings of his name to sign his work over his lifetime, but never once used the spelling ‘Shakespeare’?
Here are four fun Shakespeare activities for kids of all ages that will help get those creative juices flowing but don’t worry – if things start to get a little messy, Persil’s Solve Your Stain tool is here to help out.
Fun and creative Shakespeare activities for kids
1. Read out loud
Pick up a children’s collection of Shakespeare stories from your local library or bookshop and encourage your child to read a story out loud to friends and family. Alternatively, they can share a story from their favourite book. Reading activities for kids, such as reading out loud, can really help little ones become more confident in their abilities. For younger kids who aren’t yet reading, why not read the story out loud yourself while getting your little performers to act the tale out beside you?
2. Play at puppet theatre
A great way to introduce your children to theatrics is to get them interested in acting out some puppet theatre. A Shakespeare play or their favourite book could be inspiration for their show. Of course, you’ll need your own puppets and puppet theatre for this activity, but instead of buying them, why not make your own? Sock puppets are ideal, and the theatre can be made from cardboard and paint. Keep some Persil Small & Mighty handy for great stain removal on washable paint.
3. Write a story, play, or poem
Do your little ones seem to talk at a million words a minute? They’ve obviously got a lot of stories to tell, so why not encourage them to write these down on paper in the form of a short story, play, or poem? You can help younger children join in by writing down their story for them, or asking them to trace over the words.
The tale can be about anything: from what they’ve done at school that day to something completely weird and wonderful. For any ink stains your budding writers pick up, check out our article on removing ink stains.
4. Try a treasure hunt
Search online for William Shakespeare facts, print and cut out each fact, or write them down on small individual pieces of paper. Hide each fact next to an object in your house or garden that’s name corresponds to a letter from William Shakespeare’s name – hint: ‘ice’ is good for the letter ‘I’.
Create clues by writing the first letter of each object’s name on a piece of paper. Give these to your kids and let the treasure hunt begin! Once they’ve found all the facts, get them to work out what the lettered clues spell when put altogether, the first person to work it out gets to pick a story to read together.
Remember – all kids’ activities need adult supervision. Always supervise your kids when using craft materials like scissors or glue, and read all instructions before starting a craft or game. These are all great activities to help encourage kids to get creative, but they’re just a small selection of the ways we can teach our children about the importance of the arts, and about our country’s history and culture. How else could you celebrate the life of Shakespeare? Is your town holding any literature festivals this summer? Is your local theatre putting on any kid-friendly shows?