Shakespeare's language is often an enormous barrier. I used an online "Shakespearean insult generator" to help children find Elizabethan English interesting and inspiring.
This term's cross-curricular theme for Years 5 and 6 is the Tudors. We are studying A Midsummer Night's Dream, culminating in a visit to a Shakespeare4Kidz production.
We began with three short extracts (two or three lines) from a scene in which Lysander, Helena and Hermia are quarrelling. I read this as dramatically as possible, then asked for volunteers to do the same. Then pupils practised in pairs before being invited to act in front of the class.
I then gave out the insult generator: a three-columned list of nouns and adjectives from Shakespeare which the children could combine and preface with "thou" to produce phrases such as: "Thou droning, hell-hated foot-licker."
In pairs, they then chose favourite phrases and could stand up and choose another pupil to insult. This pupil then retaliated with his or her own phrase - again, with feeling.
Finally, the children created written phrases which they extended into sentences or short paragraphs, using the extracts from A Midsummer Night's Dream as models
www.pangloss.comseidelshake_rule.html for an online Shakespearean insult generator.
Shakepeare4kidz at www.shakespeare4kidz.com
Shakespeare and the Young Writer by Fred Sedgwick (Routledge, ISBN 0415174694) is a superb book
Joanne Jones is literacy co-ordinator at Gipsey Bridge primary, Lincolnshire