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By Judith Harries

Original article published on 10th March 2016

Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday on 23rd April by planning a ‘Shakespeare Day’ for your children.

If you are worried that Shakespeare is not ‘suitable’ for Early Years children, check out this quote from Michael Boyd, former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who said in 2008 “Really, the right time to learn Shakespeare is when children are fearless, when they are used to trying out new language. That is very young children’s daily existence, new words aren’t a problem. You need to get them before they lose the habit of singing songs and have had the fairy dust shaken out of them.”

Meet Shakespeare Day


Introduce William Shakespeare to the children as a very special man who wrote lots of stories, poems and plays a long time ago that we still enjoy today. Look at pictures of him on Google images online. Find out when he lived and died. Talk about some of his characters and ask the children if they have heard of any of their names such as Romeo, Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and so on. Read some simplified versions of his stories or watch animated DVDs (Take a look at the Resources section at the bottom of this article for more on this.) Watch the William Shakespeare Song from Horrible Histories on Youtube.

Explain that you are going to hold a special day to celebrate Shakespeare’s life and the things he wrote. Invite friends and families to come and share the fun with you. Listen to some music inspired by Shakespeare’s stories. (Again, take a look at the Music section at the bottom of this article.) Share some Shakespearean snacks.

Shakespearean snacks

Make these Elizabethan snacks at home and bring them in to use as nibbles during your Shakespeare Day.

Shakespearean snacks

Dressing up

Invite children and visitors to dress up in Elizabethan costume if they wish. Alternatively, boys could tuck their trousers in their socks and girls could wear long dresses or skirts. Try making simple Elizabethan ruffs for them all to wear.

Paper Elizabethan Ruffs: Cut paper into 6cm wide strips and let children punch holes in them at regular intervals using a hole punch. Show the children how to fold the strips using concertina or fan folds. Thread a metre length of thin ribbon through the holes of enough pieces to fold around a child’s neck and tie the ruff at the back with a bow.

Book corner

Provide lots of different versions of Shakespeare’s stories for children to look at, listen to or watch. The graphic or comic strip books by Marcia Williams are especially popular with this age group (see Resources ). Invite parents and carers to read to the children.

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