Happy Birthday William Shakepeare!
Today (23rd April) is the day when we celebrate the life of William Shakespeare, poet, playwright and actor, and perhaps the greatest and most famous English writer of all time. Not a bad epitaph considering he died over 400 years ago!
As well as writing 39 plays and 154 sonnets, Shakespeare is credited with introducing a huge number of words and sayings into the English language, many of which are still in use today. Why not take a look through the list below with your class to see how many pupils recognize these brilliant quotes?
All our yesterdays, as good luck would have it, Bated breath, break the ice, brevity is the soul of wit, dead as a doornail, eaten me out of house and home, faint-hearted, fancy free, for goodness’ sake, foregone conclusion, good riddance, jealousy is the green-eyed monster, heart of gold, In my mind’s eye, kill with kindness, Knock knock! Who’s there?, laughing stock, live-long day, love is blind, one fell swoop, play fast and loose, set my teeth on edge, the game is afoot, wear my heart upon my sleeve, wild-goose chase
A Shakespeare Timeline
Here are some of the key dates in the life of Shakespeare, which will hopefully help you when talking to your pupils about this great man:
23rd(?) April 1564 – Born in Stratford-upon-Avon
1582 – Marries Anne Hathaway
1592 – Records show that Shakespeare is in London
1593 – Shakespeare’s first poem is published and his earliest plays are performed
1594 – The Lord Chamberlain’s Men begin to perform Shakespeare’s plays
1595 – Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are performed for the first time
1599 – The Globe Theatre is built
1599-1601(?) – Hamlet is performed for the first time
1603 – Shakespeare’s acting company become The King’s Men with King James I as their patron
1606 – Macbeth is performed for the first time
1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are published
1611 – Shakespeare returns to Stratford-upon-Avon
1613-1614(?) – Shakespeare’s final play The Two Noble Kinsmen, co-written with another playwright is performed for the first time
23rd April 1616 – Shakespeare dies
1623 – The collected work of Shakespeare (The First Folio) is published for the first time
Activities and Resources
There are some brilliant ideas for celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday with your KS2 pupils:
Find a children’s version of one of his plays and get your class to read it out loud? You could even act out some of the key scenes or create a puppet theatre with famous Shakespearean characters.
Write your own stories using famous sayings and characters from Shakespeare’s plays.
Create a play, using stage directions and props to create drama or comedy.
Write a sonnet about something or someone you love.
Play agony aunt for a Shakespearean character – what advice would your pupils give to Hamlet, Macbeth or King Lear?
The British Council has a fantastic video for kids that introduces William Shakespeare and his work – it’s only three minutes long.
In addition, the BBC has some great school resources about William Shakespeare here.