Activities For Students and Teachers: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On this page, I’ll be posting resources, games, humor, and advice to children, teachers and parents on how to help Shakespeare come alive in the classroom. I’ve taught students ages 8-18 about Shakespeare and I can say confidently that Shakespeare can be enjoyed by anyone.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Activities for Teachers

Screenshot of Web English Teacher’s page for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/class-theatre-an-adaptation-of-midsummer-nights-dream/
Pic from an article about an Elementary school class in a Greek school who put on their own production of MND. Click the picture to see the article

Learning Goals:

  • Engage the visual and kinesthetic intelligences of each student
  • Encourage discussion about Shakespeare’s use of tone, sensory details, and allusion to create three different environments in the play.
  • Guide the children to engage their imaginations as a director or set/costume designer would; drawing on the text, the real world, and on their own imaginations to interpret Shakespeare’s words.

Activity 1: Pre-K to 5th : What Is a Fairy?

  • Objective: To get the children thinking about how to visually design fairies, and thus interact with one of the key elements of this story:
  • Materials needed: 
    1. Printable pictures of fairies there are hundreds of them on Pinterest, and I also found a couple at kidspot.com. I also found this site, for kids who want to make their own fairy wand!
    2. Safety scissors
    3. crayons, markers, or watercolors
  • Setup
    1. Cut out pictures of Fairies for the kids to color.
    2. Present the kids with the pictures along with coloring implements.
  • Description
    • When you present your printable pictures to your students, ask them to imagine what a fairy looks like- what color is it, is it short or tall, does it have any powers? Where does it live?
    • Have the kids answer these questions.
    • You might want to have two volunteers hold up their fairies and act out a short passage like this one:
    • PUCK
      • How now, spirit! whither wander you?

        Fairy

        Over hill, over dale,
        Thorough bush, thorough brier,
        Over park, over pale,
        Thorough flood, thorough fire,
        I do wander everywhere,
        Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
        And I serve the fairy queen,
        To dew her orbs upon the green. Midsummer, Act II, Scene i, Lines 1-9.

Activity 2: High School grades 9-12: The Real Housewives of Athens!

  • Objective: To get the students to think of the Lover’s Quarrel Scene (Act III, Scene ii), in contemporary and relevant terms.
  • Materials needed: Any edition of Midsummer, paper, pencil, and four volunteers (pref 2 male and 2 female).
  • Description:
    1. Have your students translate the lover’s quarrel as a fight between 21st century people on a talk show with a title like: “My man has taken a magic love potion, and doesn’t want me anymore,” with Puck as the host.
    2. As your actors write the script, remind them of what happens in the scene:
      1. Demetrius and Lysander, who used to love Hermia, now both love Helena, and are willing to fight to the death for her!
      2. Helena, unwilling to believe that anyone would love her, believes all three of them are playing a cruel joke on her. She therefore is very hurt and angry at everyone else.
      3. Hermia believes that Helena has stolen Lysander’s heart from her and is furious at Helena.
      4. Puck, thinks the whole affair is hilarious, which is why he is a good host for this “show.”
      5. According to the stage directions, Hermia lunges for Helena’s eyes and the men restrain her. If you choose to do this, be sure to practice it so nobody gets hurt.
  • Stage both versions the scene (Shakespeare’s and theirs) before the class.
  1. Ask the kids:
    1. Did they learn about the scene by paraphrasing it?
    2. Is the scene funny?
    3. Did you find yourself sympathizing with any of the characters?

Activity 3: College to Adult: Visual Art of Midsummer Nights’ Dream Project

  • Objective: Design costumes and setting for Dream to get the students thinking about the visual language of the play, which takes place in three very distinct locations.
  • Materials needed- depends on the format
    1. Theater costume/ design sketch pad, fabric swatches, cardboard, etc.
    2. Video: Pictures or video clips.
    3. Collage: Pictures from magazines, newspapers, old books, etc.

Setup- Collect visual images that capture what you think of when you think of the locations in Midsummer Nigh’s Dream. Use one of the suggested media above to present your visual brand to the class.

  • Description Find pictures of various locations or clothing to create a visual style for your production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which can exist in any place or time past, present, or future.
    1. Collage Create three different collages for Athens, the Forrest, and the home of Bottom the Weaver. What kind of words and pictures embody these locations?
    2. Video 
  1. Put your pictures in a slideshow or video such as the one above.
  2. Costume Design If you have real artistic talent, you can create a design like a real costume or set designer would:
    1. Set Design: You can create a model of your set with notes as to your inspirations. Were you inspired by other productions, real locations, other works of fiction? 
    2. Costume Design 
      1. You can create a sketch of how each character might look, complete with fabric swatches to indicate how they might be dressed.

 

Lesson Plans from the Web

  1. Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare the Player by Caitlin Griffin and Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger. Students act out the scenes with Bottom and the other Mechanicals and discover what life was like for Elizabethan actors.
  2. Royal Shakespeare Company: Teachers Pack for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A complete educator’s packet with games, discussion questions, and suggested scenes to act out.
  3. Web English Teacher: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A series of videos, teachers’ guides, and handouts for quick explanations of the plot and characters.

Screenshot of Web English Teacher's page for

If you’d like to suggest other Shakespearean educational resources, please click the “Ask the Shakespeare Guru” page and send me a message!

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