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Encourage them to play up

One simple activity that helps children to enter memorably into Shakespeare's language is to imitate some of his lines. Use them as creative springboards, to unleash new possibilities. The teacher has to read carefully, looking for possible patterns where a line or image might lend itself to innovation.

Macbeth has always been a good play to experience with Year 6. While it seems obvious to write spells or charms arising from the witches' famous scene, there are other possibilities. For instance, children may be interested to hear that the expression: "he looked daggers at me" comes from Shakespeare.

Hamlet states: "I will speak daggers to her, but use none." In Macbeth, the dagger is a central image both as a real object of murder but also as a metaphor: "there's daggers in men's smiles" (2.3.147). Macbeth wonders:

"art thou but a dagger of the mind?"

Ask the children what else might be seen in a smile, eyes, hands, tears, sobs, cries, pain and hearts? A Year 6 group quickly gave me: "There's hooks in men's eyes, there's sharks in men's promises, there's knives in men's hearts, there's a thief in men's promises"

Pie Corbett is a literacy consultant

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