Talk Like William Shakespeare!

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When we put our heads together to come up with some fun things to keep everyone entertained, educated and happy at home, we realised that April is a very special month – it happens to be the birth month of William Shakespeare! He was born on the 23rd April in 1564, so we thought it might be fun for children to try to ‘talk like Shakespeare’. Let’s start with a rousing chorus of: ‘Happy birthday to thee, Happy birthday to thee, Happy birthday dear William, Happy birthday to thee!’

William Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights ever known and he is credited with introducing a great many new words and phrases into the English language, (heart of gold/green-eyed monster/mum’s the word), so learning to talk like him is a worthwhile pursuit. Here are some ideas to try out at home.

Practice Maketh Perfect

  • Try adding ‘…eth’ to the end of verbs (doing words) to add a Shakespearean flavour to your conversation. 
    I goeth to my room to sulketh in peace!
  • Replace ‘you’ with ‘Thee’ or ‘Thou’
    Thou must be joking!
    I loveth thee!
  • Use some of the following words throughout the day:
    • Alack! An expression of dismay, sorrow or regret
      Alack! I have eaten my last piece of chocolate!
    • Fie! Used to express annoyance or disapproval
      Fie, Mother! Tell (insert name of culprit) to stop annoying me!
    • Prithee! Meaning Please’ or ‘If you don’t mind’
      Prithee, passeth me the ketchup!
    • MarryThis can be used at the beginning of a sentence to mean ‘Listen’ or ‘Well’
      Marry, Cousin, did thou heareth about (insert relevant piece of gossip here)?
    • And one of our favourites, from ‘Hamlet’ –  a poetic way of saying ‘Be quiet!’:
      O, speak to me no more; these words like daggers enter in mine ears

Iambic What?

Iambic pentameter is the name given to the rhythm that Shakespeare uses in his plays. The rhythm of iambic pentameter is like a heartbeat, with one soft beat and one strong beat repeated five times. (10 syllables or ‘beats’ in all.) The bold syllables are the ones you should stress.
I wonder what my friends will do today.
The rhythm also sounds like the ‘clip clop’ of a horse’s hooves, so why not make up some sentences and then canter around the room, saying them out loud. If you have two halves of a coconut or two empty yoghurt pots to make the sound, all the better!

 I am the greatest there has ever been! 
The dog sat on the log and barked a lot.
  • Why not record yourself and share with friends?
To learn some more about rhythms, have a listen to March To The Beat, from the songbook I Love Music.

How ART Thou?

  • Find an interesting Shakespeare quote and either copy it or print it out, in an interesting font, then make and decorate a cardboard frame and frame it to display on your wall

    If music be the food of love, play on is a very well-known one.

All’s Well That Ends Well!

At the end of your ‘Shakespearean day’ you could watch: 
The Tempest Lego
CBBC ‘Shakespeare’s Deaths’ chart
Or find out more about Shakespeare week here where you will find lots of resources and activities.

Click here to discover our Class Assembly:William Shakespeare – a perfect mini-musical with cross-curricular ideas and songs to learn facts from.

Written by Sue Langwade – Guest Writer for Out of the Ark Music

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Out of the Ark Music has been providing schools across the country – and world – with wonderful primary school musicals and primary school songs for nearly 30 years. Our Christmas musicals and nativity plays make children sparkle and shine, year after year, as they proudly perform their school Christmas play. Our extensive collection of fun and joyous Easter songs, harvest songs, school assembly songs, leavers songs and even space songs, fill schools with laughter and give students and teachers alike, a reason to sing every day of the week. We’re glad you’re supporting us in our dreams of creating the best music for schools around the globe. Read more about us here.

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