The following activities will help familiarize your students with the plot of Hamlet, forge connections between a variety of classroom subjects, and encourage creative responses to the opera. They are designed to be accessible to a wide array of ages and experience levels.
Art Song and Shakespeare
Invite students to compare and contrast art-song settings of texts by Shakespeare, identifying key components of the genre and considering the power of storytelling through song. Finally, invite students to write their own art song text set to a simple melody.
What’s in a Page?
Walk students through the process of folding and assembling a few sheets of paper into a quart- or folio-size notebook, teaching them about the publication process of Shakespeare’s plays.
The Social Medium is the Message
Invite students to recreate a scene from Hamlet using their favorite social medium. A viral TikTok video, an Instagram story, or a series of text messages are just a few of the ways that students might choose to adapt the play.
“To Be or Not to Be?”
Review the text of Hamlet’s “The be or not to be monologue” with your students. Help them understand this famous soliloquy as deeply as possible: Where does it fall in the overall narrative of Shakespeare’s play? What is the general sentiment it expresses? Are there any difficult words or ideas, and how might one go about investigating what they mean? After your study, invite students to develop a brand-new scene (with a different story line from Hamlet) that can incorporate part (or all) of this text.
COMMON CORE CONNECTIONS
These activities directly support the following ELA-Literacy Common Core Strands:
Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)\
Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.