This piece reflects on work presented at the AATE conference in Denver, Colorado (2014) where we shared a series of drama-based strategies for introducing Shakespeare in the elementary and middle grades (ages 5-13).  The sample of teacher-friendly approaches below are based on the work of experienced elementary teachers in Vancouver, Canada, who have been exploring Shakespeare with children for nearly a decade.  These activities were developed as part of a five-year nationally funded project on building community through drama in the elementary classroom.  George was the principal investigator on this project, and Sue was one of the key teachers facilitating the work in elementary classrooms. The Canadian-based project compliments the research and pedagogical work at the Royal Shakespeare Company (www.rsc.org.uk/education), and the Folger Institute in Washington, DC (www.folger.edu).

A number of publications have emerged from the Canadian study,[1] yet few of the actual pedagogical practices of teachers have been shared. [2] The activities offered below are informed by research and have proven to be pedagogically effective for introducing young learners to Shakespeare, in particular A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For experienced drama teachers, these activities are familiar, however what is perhaps new is introducing and sequencing them to introduce Shakespeare to children as young as six.  Feedback from the Vancouver classrooms where this work has been developed suggests that young children working with Shakespeare were highly engaged with the rich and playful language, stories, and complex characters (Belliveau, 2012).  As one of the parents of the children who has participated in this process suggests: