Archive for the ‘Shakespeare’ Category

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Shakespeare-Party-Chandos portrait-edited by Baraboo Public Library

449 years ago, The Bard of All Bards was born!

To celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday, Brave Writer is offering the Boomerang based on Gary Blackwood’s book, Shakespeare’s Scribe:

Half price for one day only: $4.95! OFFER HAS EXPIRED

In Blackwood’s novel, we follow Widge, an actor in Shakespeare’s troupe. After the Globe Theatre is shut down due to the Black Plague, the company sets off to tour England, where Widge’s unique shorthand makes him a valuable member…until someone threatens to reveal a past secret.

The book is a sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer, but stands well on its own.

Oh, also! Brave Writer instructor, Susanne Barrett, posted ways to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in the Shakespeare Family Workshop she’s leading right now.

Here are her ideas:

• Have a Talk Like Shakespeare Day (or even just an hour, if that’s all you can handle).

• Perhaps gather around the table with scones and jam and some Earl Grey tea and read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud (you can find Shakespeare sonnet apps for your smart phone or check out this site).

• Read some of Shakespeare’s famous monologues aloud dramatically, perhaps even in costume. Here’s a list of some of the best single-person speeches, one list for men and one for women.  Try performing them for family members and/or friends or at a co-op!

• Perform a Shakespeare scene as a puppet show or act out a scene in costume; either memorize parts or make copies of the scene for all the actors. Here are some scenes and scripts for kids from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

• Watch your favorite Shakespeare play on film (mine is Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing). Check your local library or Netflix for some excellent titles, and the International Movie DataBase includes some helpful parents guides with advisory content for you along with ratings and information on most film versions.

• For older kids, check out Michael Woods’ in-depth documentary In Search of Shakespeare which first aired on PBS in 2004. Both the DVD and the companion book should be readily available through most public libraries.

• Better yet, see a live Shakespeare play as soon as possible. Check out college/university performances near you as they’re usually much less expensive than professional productions.

So, celebrate one of the greatest playwrights of all time and take advantage of this special Boomerang offer!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Image is from the Baraboo Public Library

What you can do when you want to give up?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

It’s April. Spring break is just around the corner, and happens to come at the right time every year (the moment when I want to collapse from the drain of winter quarter)… except for one thing. Sometimes when I allow myself to let down during the break, I lose all my energy to finish the year strong. Our homeschool dribbles to the end of May and ekes into June with just enough sluggish energy to feel we have completed the year’s work. Or in those “let’s just hurry up and get to summer” years, the dribbling and eking maybe didn’t even occur and we hope no one from the state shows up at our door in July looking for work samples from seven subjects.

I used to put it this way: in the fall, I was a classical educator. In winter, I shifted to a Charlotte Mason-unit study kind of school style. But by spring, radical unschoolers.

If this is you and right now you’re wondering how you can get to the end without the end coming too soon, here are a few Brave Writer suggestions that may help.

  1. Change the routine. Maybe you let everyone sleep in longer than usual and you start the day outside (weather permitting). Start with an entry in a nature journal or tending seedlings you plant. If you usually begin with math, start with grammar. Save math for later in the day. Maybe you can kick a soccer ball before you do any school work at all!  Do something utterly different than you have been. Look at the Brave Writer Lifestyle to trigger ideas.
  2. Get ready the night before. Best piece of advice, hardest to follow. Don’t labor over it. Before bed, pick one thing to use as your centerpiece the next day. It might be a book of poetry, perhaps flowers to plant. Maybe you find a DVD that the kids can enjoy in the afternoon, or you decide to bake brownies so that during read aloud time, there are fresh munchies. Stay simple. Just plan one thing (maybe all you do is stack the school books on the table so they are easily found and no one has to complain that they “can’t find the grammar book”).
  3. Play music. We forget how powerful music is in creating mood. If you’ve got an iPod and a speaker set, put that out the night before. You can throw it on shuffle and let the tunes roll, or you can be more deliberate and create a morning playlist conducive to studying. You might even pick a song (instrumental) to use for either freewriting or free drawing. For freewriting, allow the mood of the music to guide the writing. For free drawing, put a variety of writing elements on the table (markers, crayons, colored pencils, high lighters, pens). Your kids will express the mood of the music as they listen.
  4. Poetry. Perhaps you’re already good at poetry teatimes. If you’re not, this is meant for you. Spring is the perfect time to develop/cultivate the habit of reading poetry, sipping tea and eating treats. Read about it here.
  5. Shakespeare. May is the month of Shakespeare in Brave Writer. Take advantage of the fact that we have already structured into our world a focus you can usurp and use in yours! We have a Shakespeare class for high schoolers available and we offer some suggestions of ways to introduce Shakespeare to your kids in the Brave Writer Lifestyle. The blog will also feature some specifically Shakespeare-y kinds of things to do with your family too.
  6. Take classes. We have good ones. Kidswrite Basic, Kidswrite Intermediate and Literary Analysis start next week. Don’t miss your chance to get these in before the year ends.
  7. Take a day off just for you. Plan a hike in the local hills, go to an art museum alone for a morning, see a movie no one wants to see with you, spend a day wandering a labyrinth, get a massage, get a mani-pedi in bright red. Do something to recharge that takes you away from the burden of daily planning. You deserve it. You’ve been working hard all year.

Bottom line: Each year feels like you re-invent your homeschool. That’s because you do. You’ve got kids changing ages and stages, your income fluctuates, your home routine is up-ended by some sports schedule or dance or acting. You find that what worked one year is just not going to work the next. You’re at the end of one of those years now. What things can you do now, that you may not ever get to do again? What opportunities does this year offer that will vanish come September? Do those now. If that means going to Disneyland while you still have kids under 10, do it. If it means having teatimes outside in your backyard because next year you’ll be living in a condo, have as many as you can. If it means that you have leisurely mornings now but next year will be driving someone to school, enjoy sleeping in and reading together in pajamas these last few weeks.

Whatever phase of life you’re in, savor it. Look ahead and consider today. What can I do today that makes a memory, that preserves what I love, that enhances our well-being? Then do that. Math can wait (unless of course math IS that thing <g>).

Happy Birthday William!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Shakespeare that is.

Fun Shakespeare facts:

  • Nobody knows Shakespeare’s true birthday. The closest we can come is the date of his baptism on April the 26th, 1564. By tradition and guesswork, William is assumed to have been born three days earlier on April the 23rd, a date now commonly used to celebrate the famous Bard’s birthday.
  • Shakespeare, one of literature’s greatest figures, never attended university. (Unschoolers take courage!)
  • The Bard is believed to have started writing the first of his 154 sonnets in 1593 at age 29.
  • William never published any of his plays. We read his plays today only because his fellow actors John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work as a dedication to their fellow actor in 1623, publishing 36 of William’s plays. This collection known as The First Folio is the source from which all published Shakespeare books are derived and is an important proof that he authored his plays.
  • As an actor performing his own plays, William performed before Queen Elizabeth I and later before James I who was an enthusiastic patron of his work.

(taken from

Shakespeare is said to have coined more than 1,700 words in his lifetime many of which we use today. To read a list of words, go here.

May is Shakespeare month for Brave Writer. Be sure to sign up for the One Thing Workshop: Shakespeare if you want a little hand-holding and joy in discovering the Bard with your kids.

Check out Shakespearegeek for more fun with Will.

You can Talk like Shakespeare too!

I shall live to knock thy brains out.

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

(Taken from: The Two Noble Kinsmen)

If you worry that your kids think Shakespeare is a bore and totally out of step with today, I’ve got the remedy! Go to the Shakespeare Insulter and let the Bard hurl one at you! The insults would be a fun change of pace for copywork or dictation if language arts are getting a little tedious or routine.

(One small caveat: a few of the insults I turned up have some overtones you might want to preview.)

Check out more ideas about how to incorporate Shakespeare into your language arts program.