25 August, 2010

Preparing for Shakespeare

We are reading our first Shakespeare play this year. I would like to share with you some of the ideas and books I have been gathering to prepare for our study.

We have read a few of Shakespeare's plays retold by Charles and Mary Lamb in Tales from Shakespeare.

But this year, I wanted to read through an original play with my two oldest daughters. They are now 10 and 11 and are both strong in their English and reading aloud skills, so I thought we'd give it a go.

The next question was which play to study. In The Well Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer recommends starting with a history play, as the storyline would be more straight forward and understandable. Since we had recently studied King Henry V in our History studies, I decided that would be the play to start with, as we had a good overview of the storyline. Another factor in this decision was that Susan Wise Bauer and others recommend the movie by Kenneth Branagh as suitable for older children to view. I found a copy at one of our local stores and previewed it for suitability. I will show the girls most of the film, just leaving out some of the gory battle scenes.

My next mission was to find the books to read aloud. I wanted to have three copies, so that we could each have one to read aloud from. The local library would have some, right? Wrong! I was quite disappointed. Granted, we live in a small town, but considering the size of the library I was disappointed to find only one copy of the complete works of Shakespeare in the classics section - which only consisted of about 20 or 30 books! So I had to resort to buying some copies. Susan Wise Bauer also recommended the Oxford Shakespeare editions as they have the original text accompanied by notes and explanations of the many old expressions and words used. They also include other historical background information and pictures from various performances and movies. These I found via my trusty Fishpond, a kind of Amazon based in New Zealand. They happened to have emailed me a voucher for $10 off my next purchase that very day, so I ordered two copies.

I planned to read from the huge complete works that I had borrowed from the library, until I found a Wordsworth Classics edition on Trademe. It contains five of Shakespeare's history plays, and is much easier to hold and read aloud from than the mammoth book from the library.

There are several homeschooling mums whose blogs/websites have been invaluable in finding material on Shakespeare. Jimmie has a great Squidoo Lens on Shakespeare for Children. I have visited many of the sites Jimmie recommended. It is a wonderful guide to beginning the study of Shakespeare with your children and includes links to printable pictures, notebooking pages and much more.

LindaFay has a very helpful post on Shakespeare movies.

This book, Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare is a lovely introduction to Shakespeare's life, and the illustrations are beautiful.

We are now several scenes into our reading of Henry V, and have thoroughly enjoyed the rich language and the many "bardisms", insults and expressions and are looking forward to reading more.

13 August, 2010

Stained Glass Window Art

We finally got around to finishing our "stained glass windows". We did this craft to go along with a medieval history lesson, but it also tied in with some of our art studies. Thanks to Dana's and Barb's wonderful posts we found some great patterns at Chantal's Stained Glass website to use for our "windows."

We printed out the patterns onto regular printer paper, then traced them onto tracing paper. The pad of tracing paper was much cheaper to buy than acetate pages, which probably would have been better.

Next we drew over the patterns with black PVA glue. This was trickier than it looks. The glue tended to come out of the tube in an irregular fashion, but I think it added a bit of originality to our designs. We laid them out to dry. We didn't get around to finishing them until this week, because I needed to purchase some white glue to stain with watercolours, so that we could colour in the designs. Spot the Mondrian on the bottom!

Well, it turned into one of those things that sat around unfinished, until I found some cheap coloured glue sticks at the local Warehouse store.

The girls got them out earlier this week and finished them off. Needless to say it was a messy job, but they look beautiful hanging up on the window. Here are some of the girls' designs. One day I might get around to finishing my Mondrian style design.

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