Why preschool kids should learn about Shakespeare
As children return to school, we are excited to launch a brand new season of our much loved Two Minute Tales.
For our third series, Hopster has reimagined some of William Shakespeare’s most well known tales, as a way to introduce Shakespeare to preschoolers and enrich their growing vocabulary and storytelling skills.
We think it’s never too early to begin to appreciate Shakespeare’s brilliant stories, diverse characters and rich language.
Speaking both as a parent and teacher, I really believe that by introducing Shakespeare to kids early on, we can raise the bar on expectations around literature for all children, before they have formed any preconceived ideas about Shakespeare. Shakespeare is for everyone, including the very young.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company, stated that “no age is too young to start learning about the Bard.”
“They are learning new words all the time, every day. Shakespeare is just a new set of really gorgeous, delicious intriguing words,” she said, adding that some schools begin teaching toddlers who are still in nursery.”
Shakespeare’s Two Minute Tales
We have chosen plays that will appeal to young children, with memorable characters, original language, famous quotes, interesting plots and humour.
We have focused on one key theme of each play such as jealousy in Othello, bravery in King Lear and prejudice in Romeo and Juliet.
As the shows are only two minutes long, we have focused on famous scenes to enhance future learning and/or further developed themes to showcase morals within each play.
Shakespeare’s Two Minute Tales are an inspiring collection that will instil a love of language and the art of storytelling; these are a firm foundation on which to build and enhance essential early literacy skills such as:
- New Vocabulary
As children watch and listen to the shows they will come across words and character names they may not have heard before, all the time expanding their vocabulary and strengthening their language skills. They will love using these ‘new’ words in their day to day conversations.
2. Storytelling Skills
Long before children are ready to put pencil to paper and write stories, most are already natural oral storytellers. Think about the moments when you tune into your little ones playing and they are retelling a story or loudly creating their own. These storytelling skills form an essential part of preparing young children for starting school by aiding sentence structure and vocabulary confidence.
3. Creative Thinking
When stories are this varied and characters are this memorable, it can’t help but inspire children’s creativity and imagination by opening them to new ideas and showing them that stories are only limited by their own imagination.
4. Memory Skills
Encouraging your kids to retell the story not only allows them to practise ‘storytelling’ but also exercises their memory skills. They have to remember the characters, the plot and also any other key moments or language.
Through these tales children will learn to empathise with unfamiliar situations, people and places.They will learn the importance of being able to place yourself in other’s shoes to better understand their feelings and be more sensitive to others needs. Developing empathy skills from an early age is also a positive indicator for school readiness and success.
To accompany the series, we have developed activity packs for each episode/play that aims to deepen learning and enhance engagement through activities.
Each Shakespeare learning pack is designed for a parent/child interaction to help retell the story, learn new words, encourage creative thinking and have fun! Each pack contains:
- A synopsis of the original play
- An overview of our Two Minute Tales episode
- Key theme overview
- Introduction to key characters
- Language learning glossary
- Famous phrases
- Discussion questions
- Variety of activity games
We hope you and your littlies enjoy this introductory dive into the wonderful world of William Shakespeare.
Head to our website to download our free Shakespeare learning activity packs for kids. We’ve created one for every episode of Hopster’s Two Minute Tales from Shakespeare.
Who knows, maybe our Two Minute Tales will be the beginning of something special. The Royal Shakespeare Company certainly seems to think so…
“Start a child young enough, and they will become Shakespeare lovers for life.”