What's it all about?
William Shakespeare's works have captivated audiences for hundreds of years. Although his actual birth date remains unknown, it is celebrated each year on the April 23. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first publication of The Sonnets.
Ask pupils if they can think of any similarities between his 400-year-old characters and people today. Explore the themes of some of the better known plays and encourage children to draw parallels with contemporary situations. For instance, in Romeo Juliet the feud between Montagues and Capulets is constantly erupting in violence and killing. Are there any modern day situations like this?
You could also look at the impact of Shakespearean English on how we talk today. "Wild-goose chase", "Love is blind" and "Good riddance" are all phrases coined by the Bard. He is credited with the words gossip, lonely and excitement.
Help, I've got no time to prepare
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) website provides downloadable resources for schools as part of its Stand Up for Shakespeare campaign. It offers assembly plans for primary and secondary schools, which include mini-scenes that could form a useful part of any assembly: www.rsc.org.ukstandupforshakespeare.
Where do I get more information?
Besides the RSC, the Globe Theatre website is a great resource: www.shakespeares-globe.orgglobeeducation. For an extensive list (and a random generator) of Shakespearean insults, try visiting the William Shakespeare Biography site: www.william-shakespeare.org.ukshakespeare-insults-dictionary.htm.