Quotes from Shakespeare's plays - Notes for teachers

Quotes from Shakespeare's plays - interactive game

Some people may feel that it's deeply disrespectful to Shakespeare's plays to use them as a basis for an interactive game. However, I developed this game for use in a Primary school, and found, to my surprise, that not only did it help the children to learn the quotes, but also made them think more deeply about the language.

You play the game by first selecting a play. When you start, a quote appears, but there are several gaps. The words from the gaps appear below, in a random order. You must fit the words back to the gaps. It won't let you put them in the wrong place! Then you do the same with another quote.

This is a very simple idea, yet the children used all sorts of techniques to do it. Some remembered the quote itself (they had already seen the BBC Shakespeare cartoons which appeared some time ago). One girl in fact said "I know that quote. I've only heard it once" and then in a rather annoyed voice, "WHY do I know that quote?" This led a conversation with a 10 year old on how you could write English so well as to be remembered so easily - an interesting approach to Shakespeare! Other children spotted that the gap required a noun or verb - they didn't even have the words for these, but the words they were trying showed this was what they were doing. So this can lead onto formal grammar. Many tried to choose words that made sense, and they were handing the sense of Elizabethan English with remarkable ease. Some even used the rhythm of the sentence to choose or reject words, which startled me! A few, of course, just tried every word in turn until one fitted, but this soon got boring, so they switched to one of the other methods. Once they had reconstructed a quote, they often would say it out loud, with a good feeling for sense and rhythm, which also surprised me. One boy declaimed "Let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming!" with a great deal of feeling! The children seemed to enjoy the exercise enormously, and I was left with a feeling that Shakespeare must be a very good writer indeed!

I am starting with a few plays. If anyone wants me to add a play, please let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

The game removes 5 words from each quote to start with. You can choose a different number to remove (the option of one word removed is trivial, but useful to scan through the quotes in a hurry.) If the number of words removed is more than the whole quotation, it will leave at least one word in the quote as an anchor. Or you can remove ALL the words, and reconstruct the whole quote. This is quite a challenge even if you know the quotes well.

I hope I have not made any mistakes with the quotes. If I have, please let me know. The punctuation is simplified. I apologise to all punctuation purists, but I refuse to believe that punctuation in Shakespearean language is that important, if, indeed, it's his at all. I have also massaged a few quotes slightly, for example, replacing "It" by its antecedent, so you know what's being talked about. Also sometimes the middle of a very long quote has been dropped. I hope that the essence of the quote is still there.

This page gives a few longer speeches from Shakespeare's plays.

Outside website: Complete works of Shakespeare online with search

In Association with Amazon.co.uk In Association with Amazon.com
There are of course many editions of Shakespeare's plays. There are also retellings of stories of Shakespeare. The following is an excellent one, with a few pages for each play, giving a clear, accurate and readable summary. Much better than Lamb!

Stories from Shakespeare by Geraldine McCaughrean - buy

My name is Jo Edkins. If you have any comments, criticisms, corrections or questions, please email me (see
English index pages).

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