10 Items to Teach Shakespeare Like a Pirate

11:43 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Dave Burgess has a whole section in his book Teach Like a Pirate that talks about setting the stage for a unit.  I was a theatre minor in college and spent many hours on stages, so this made a lot of sense to me.  In this section, he talks about interior design, costumes, and props.  A Midsummer Night's Dream is the perfect opportunity for me to put these ideas into practice this coming year.  I have been going one step further and adding a craftivity too.

 I have received complimentary products from Oriental Trading Company in exchange for this post. This post contains affliate links, and I recieve a comission at no cost to you shoudl you choose to purchase.

I love Teach Like a Pirate, and since reading it last summer, I have worked hard at incorporating some of the suggestions into my classroom. I started with my AP Literature class and Frankenstein: we threw a Frankenstein party. This year I want to try it with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and again Oriental Trading Company is going to help.


The night before we start I am going to set up my room.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Enchanted Forrest Scene Setter with go in my reading nook. At 4ft by 30 ft this backdrop, when adhered to the wall a few feet up, will make the perfect backdrop for acting out scenes and for still-life photographs. We will also use it for our pre-reading book selfies.


A Midsummer Night's Dream

The chairs and table from my reading nook will be packed up and temporarily moved to our book room. Pine Tree Joined Cutouts and 3D Tree Stumps will replace them. I am thinking three trees and a stump or two. I am also considering having students make cone trees decorated as the four main characters to add to our forest.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Students will have their choice of Midsummer Wear

I plan to start by buying a bunch of bed sheets at the resale shop. I might try and get the hospital to donate some white ones too. These will serve as costumes for the Greek characters when tied toga style.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Laurel Leaf Headbands for the four young lovers. I have even thought about coloring them to distinguish between the girls, Hermia and Helena, as they are often confused.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Prism Crowns for the king and queen of the fairies and the Greek rulers with different colors consistently representing the characters to help distinguish among them. It is nice since the set comes with four colors.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Mini Star Wands for all of the fairies.


Spider Fairy Wings for the four fairy servants of Bottom and Titania.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

I also have Roman Swords for Lysander and Demetrius.

I just don't know what to do for Puck and the Acting Company. I would welcome suggestions for props or costumes to get for them.

Just the idea of dressing up and having pictures taken in the forest is exciting, but we will also use the costume pieces for our reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream and our still-life pictures of character relationships.


The last activity for the hour will be to draw a fairy, which we will put on display. Art Hub for Kids is the perfect Youtube channel for art in the classroom because his videos are easy to follow, and they don't take much time.


All of this will happen before we even open the text.  I print my students' copies of A Midsummer Night's Dream, so they can annotate and summarize as we share the text orally.  I print them from a free online PDF.  The pdf is 75 pages, but I reduce it to 19 by printing two pages on one side and then printing it two sides; this way four pages end up on one piece of paper.

I also have several products for teaching A Midsummer Night's Dream, and all of them have been recently redone.



How do you Teach Like a Pirate in your classroom?

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