Lesson 1: It’s All Shakespeare to Me! Part One

Lesson 1: It’s All Shakespeare to Me! Part One


Lesson Objective: Students will become familiar with common Shakespearean language by creating their own Shakespearean dialogue with a partner.



  • Drama Journals
  • Shakespeare Sentence Index Cards
  • Troublesome Words Handout Lesson 1.Troublesome Words Handout
    • Found: http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/educators/performance/lessonplan.html


Introductory: Passing Notes

Pair students sitting next to one another. They are going to pass silent notes.  The first student writes a one sentence note. Then the second student responds with a one sentence note.   For convenience students should write notes on the same piece of paper.  Each student should write at least 5 sentences.  Students should not have this conversation out loud, it should be passed in their notes.  They can talk about anything.

For example:

  1. Are you ready for the math test this afternoon?
  2. I totally forgot!!!!! What am I gonna do?
  3. Relax, I will explain everything at lunch.
  4. Is it hard? I did really bad on the last test!


Have students hold onto these conversations for later.


Activity: Shakespeare Sentences

Split students into groups of 4, perhaps combine two partnerships from the first activity.   Give each group a set of index cards that have each word to a Shakespearean Line written on them. The cards will be purposefully out of order.

  1. A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
  2. That handkerchief did an Egyptian to my mother give.
  3. Thy shape invisible retain thou still.


Students should try to put the sentence back together. They can check it with you. If they don’t have it completely correct have them try again a few times.  Before revealing the correct order ask students to tell you what they think their sentence is about. They should be able to decode the main topics or ideas in the sentence.  Tell students the correct order.  Point out how students were close to interpreting the sentence just by spending time looking at the words and their possible relationships. We can understand difficult passages by examining the words.



What aspects of Shakespearean Language do you find most difficult to understand?  Students will probably say things like this:

  • Weird Verb Ending
  • Awkward Sentence Structure
  • Words like “thee” or “thy”


Instruction: Language

Where have you heard Shakespearean Language in everyday life?

  1. Old Texts, Bible, Dr. Faust Old Poetry
  2. Most Common, Marriage Vows
  3. “I, Martin take thee, Jane, as my lawful wife.”
  4. “I, Jane, take thee, Martin, as my lawful husband.”

Explain Second Person Familiar Pronouns. 

Singular Pronouns.  Write examples on the board.

  1. Thou Subject:

“Thou art my brother.”

  1. Thee Object:

“Come, let me clutch thee.”

  1. Thy Possessive

Adjective: “What is thy name?”

  1. Thine Possessive

Noun: “To thine own self be true.”

Plural Pronouns

  1. Ye Subject:

“ye shall know me.”


Those who have studied French or Spanish will recognize that this is the formalizing of English word forms.  Ask students to take out their notes and change them to include the singular and plural pronouns.


Explain Verb Inflection usually it just means adding an est or st on the end of a word.

  1. “Thou liest, malignant thing.”
  2. “What didst thou see?”
  3. “Why canst thou not see the difference?”


Have students change their notes to include verb inflections. Encourage students to over exaggerate it just for the sake of the activity.  


Hand each student a copy of “Troublesome Words”.  Ask students to incorporate at least 10 of the words into their notes, they will need to rewrite some of the sentences. 


When students have finished rewriting have each pair read aloud what they wrote as a performance. First what they wrote in modern English and then in Old English.



Listen to the final notes performances. Assess to see if students are getting a rhythm for working with new words and new sentences structure using the context of their own familiar experiences. No formal assessment. This lesson is to help students take their first small step into Shakespeare.