Engaging K-12 Students with Shakespeare’s As You Like It
Teaching Shakespeare to K-12 students can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. As You Like It, one of Bard’s most beloved comedies offers a wealth of opportunities for educators to introduce their students to the world of Elizabethan theatre, language, and culture. The following tips and strategies will help you create an engaging lesson plan that takes your students on a fun-filled journey through Arden Forest.
1. Establish a Hook
Begin your lesson with a brief overview of the play’s key themes, such as love, identity, and family, as well as its comedic elements. Use visual aids or multimedia resources to give students a glimpse into the world of the play. For example, show movie adaptations or snippets from stage performances. This approach will grab their attention and set the stage for more in-depth exploration.
2. Break Down the Language Barrier
Shakespeare’s unique language and verse can be difficult for students of all ages. Encourage your students to interact with the text by reading aloud select lines or scenes in small groups. Provide context and modern translations when necessary to ensure comprehension. You may also incorporate word games or quizzes that test students’ understanding of Elizabethan vocabulary and phraseology.
3. Play with Characterization
As You Like It contains a diverse cast of characters whose actions and motivations drive the plot. Assign different roles to students and have them act out key scenes, thus allowing them to immerse themselves in each character’s perspective. Discuss their actions, relationships, and motives as a class, fostering connections between characters and major themes.
4. Encourage Creative Expression
Inspire creativity by incorporating art into your lesson plan. Encourage students to design costumes or set pieces based on descriptions from the play or historical research into Elizabethan fashion and architecture. Alternatively, invite them to write original poems or songs inspired by the play’s themes or characters.
5. Make Connections to Modern Life
While As You Like It was written over 400 years ago, its themes and messages remain relevant today. After studying the play, have your students discuss how its themes relate to their own lives and experiences—a valuable exercise in critical thinking and reflection.
By employing these strategies, K-12 educators can create a memorable and effective learning experience that brings As You Like It to life for their students. Emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and real-world connections will foster a love for Shakespeare’s work that will last a lifetime.