Ok, so, ready for the followup from this story about meeting my 2nd grader’s teacher?
It appears that I get to put my money where my mouth is. My daughter came home last week with a report that I am to email her teacher and let her know when I can come in, and how much time I need. Apparently I get up to an hour to talk on the subject of Shakespeare. Details to be worked out.
So….HELP!? I know I’ve got folks in the audience that have done this (or similar), and I’m looking for tips. I know that I can easily (easily!) speak for an hour on my favorite subject, to any age group. What I want to do, though, is to get some structure onto it so that it’s a repeatable experience. I want to go in knowing what I hope to talk about, and why, and they see how it goes.
Here’s what I figure so far, from my own experience with my kids, and going into their classrooms:
1) At least some time on biographic stuff. Who was Shakespeare, when did he live, and so on. They need context, and I think the whole “400 years ago” thing is important for setting the stage.
2) If there’s a play to focus on, it’ll be Midsummer. While I have my own fondness for The Tempest, I’ve been convinced that Midsummer remains the best introduction to kids who have likely never experienced this stuff before.
3) I very desperately want an excuse to get them out of their seats and reciting/acting some stuff. They won’t get it (nor will they sit still!) listening to me talk for an hour, no matter how fascinating I am. 😉
I would love to walk in with scripts all prepared (rewritten and toned down to their level, of course), push back the desks, assign roles and start walking through the play. I’d love that like you wouldn’t believe. Like, I’ve dreamed about doing that since I first had kids. But if this is a one shot deal and I’ve got an hour, I don’t think we’ll get very far. We’d be lucky to get through one walk through.
Option 2 is for me to play narrator and describe 3/4 of the play, stopping periodically to have a couple of the kids act out a particular scene. This right now for me is the most likely, if I can find the balance of which scenes to act out.
Another option is to do more of a “medley” of Shakespeare’s greatest hits, and let the kids take turns reciting from a whole variety of scenes – the balcony scene, the Yorick scene, and so on. I fear that might be too confusing because they wouldn’t get to settle in on the plot and character of a single story.
What have you got for me?
(It’s worth mentioning that later in the year I may be called upon to do this same thing with my 4th grader’s class, in which case I would have a bit more options due to their more advanced reading/listening/comprehension skills).
P.S. – 2nd grader in this case means 7 years old, roughly. 4th grader is 9 years old. I often forget that my audience extends outside the US, and I was asked to clarify over the weekend.