Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr Shakespeare

Whether or not you believe William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, today is the day I am choosing to celebrate his birthday.

How to celebrate? have some suggestions, including a Romeo and Juliet speed dating session! Good luck with that, meanwhile, here are some less adventurous ideas from The Book Chook.

You could make April 23 your own Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Here are some hints:

Instead of you, say thou or thee
Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.
Don’t waste time saying "it," just use the letter "t" (’tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).
When in doubt, add the letters "eth" to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.

How about a dinner party with a Shakespearean theme? If your local butcher doesn't run to "Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog..." try these renaissance recipes. You'll also find recipes from the 16th century culinary manuscript, A Propre new booke of Cokery (1545) at Gode Cookery. I quite like the sound of "To fry Beanes". Better still, why not sit with your kids and brainstorm connections, however tenuous, between Shakespeare and recipes you think your guests might enjoy. For example, looking at character names in A Midsummer Night's Dream might lead you to Black Bottom Pie. Reading recipes and writing up a menu are great ways to involve your kids in literacy.

The Bard's plays were written to be performed. Your kids might be inspired to put on their own version of one of the plays by this trailer for a Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by children.

I was intrigued by Students Inspired by Shakespeare, a video about Hobart Boulevard Elementary School (Central LA) where kids perform As You Like It.

At PaperToys, you can grab a pdf to construct your own Globe Theatre.

If you're interested in introducing Shakespeare to primary aged children, check out this animated video of The Taming of the Shrew (Part 1) from the BBC. You'll find links to other videos in this wonderful series at this Squidoo page.

Test your ability to recognize Will's words with PBS game, Which Words are Will's Words? The Book Chook, who prides herself on her vocabulary, now hangs her head in shame.

At Folger, you can colour pictures, navigate mazes, try your hand at crosswords, jigsaws and word searches about Shakespeare. You'll also find many teacher resources.

At Absolute Shakespeare, you'll find the bard's plays, sonnets and a wealth of other material.

Here are many Everyday Expressions from Shakepeare's plays.

Can you match these tabloid headlines to the correct play?

1. Moor murders missus.
2. Duke rescued from haunted isle.
3. Tragic double teen death.

Find answers and more headlines, plus link to whole articles based around the headers at 60 Second Shakespeare from the BBC.

(Stratford on Avon historic map 1902 above is in the Public Domain and is from Wikimedia Commons.)


  1. Methinks that I shall avoideth the Renaissance recipes - surely thou dost jest!

  2. Dawn Riccardi Morris23 April, 2010

    Did you know you could also send a letter to Juliet via The Juliet Club in Verona, Italy? The link is: It's a great city to visit if you love Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet.

    As always, you've put together so many great resources here. Thanks, Susan!

  3. Book Chook23 April, 2010

    Molly, seriously, the one I mentioned was fava beans and onions sauteed in butter, and I thought it sounded good. Probably I would eschew lark pie though.

  4. Book Chook23 April, 2010

    Thanks for letting us know Dawn!

    I carefully refrained from admitting it above, but will recklessly now confide that I have never read Shakespeare for pleasure, and probably wouldn't rush to Verona. I can certainly appreciate him as a poet and playwright, but give me kidlit any day!

  5. What fun ideas! We are celebrating Shakespeare at CHC with some fun activities this year, I'll have to send on these great ideas. Next year we are hoping to hold Shakespeare days.

  6. Book Chook23 April, 2010

    That sounds excellent, Kelly. I look forward to reading about it!

  7. Kelly Burstow24 April, 2010

    You are awesome, you know! I know how much time and effort goes into posts like this. Thank you for all your hard work. I purchased the Tsunami book btw, and left a note with my order that I found out about it from you.

  8. Book Chook24 April, 2010

    Feedback from wonderful people like you is the icing on my blogging cake, Kelly. Thank you!

  9. amy in peru24 April, 2010

    I SO wish that I had seen this yesterday!!! I think we're going to have to celebrate a day late!

    I very much think that talking in Shakespearean English would be HILARIOUS to my kids...

    When I post about our Shakespeare studies, I'm going to link here!! Very awesome post!

    amy in peru

  10. Book Chook25 April, 2010

    It's never too late to celebrate literature or literacy in my book, Amy! (ooh, punny!)


Related Posts with Thumbnails