Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way {Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!}

Shakespeare's Birthday -- Incorporating Shakespeare in Your #Homeschool @hsbapost

I was 16 when it happened. I was sitting in a park in Washington, D.C., minding my own business, and it happened. I fell in love.

For two hours I sat — watching, listening, to words and phrases that I did not always fully understand, and yet the meaning was still clear. What was this mysterious form of language that could move a person to laugh, to cry, to wonder?

I had the great privilege all those years ago to see my first Shakespeare play — Romeo and Juliet — at an outdoor Folger Shakespeare Library performance in Washington, D.C. The Folger Shakespeare Library is home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials and serves as a research center on Shakespeare and the early western modern age. If you plan a trip to D.C., put this on your list of must-sees. The library is located on Capitol Hill and is free to the public.

That first play in the park started me on a life-long journey of reading, studying and even acting Shakespeare’s plays. You never know what experiences will move you in an unexpected way.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and baptized on April 26. His birthday is thought to be April 23 (Happy Birthday, Will!) and he died on the same day in 1616. This year marks his 450th birthday!

Since we honor William Shakespeare and poetry with National Poetry Month in April, it seems like a good time to gather up and share some of my favorite Shakespeare ideas and resources:

Shakespeare Scripts for Kids The Folger Shakespeare Library has a short list of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. In most cases the scenes are only a few pages long and can easily be acted out in an afternoon’s study of The Bard. The scenes also contain a summary so you can get up to speed on the action. While you’re visiting  the Folger web-site, you might as well check out the other great resources on Shakespeare for Kids.

The number of English words and phrases coined by Shakespeare is absolutely staggering. Many view Shakespearian language as arcane, when in reality we continue to use these words and phrases in our modern language on a daily basis. Phrases such as “What the dickens” and “Knock, Knock! Who’s There?” and words like “bedazzled” and “puppy dog” are attributed to Shakespeare. You can find an extensive list HERE. Take turns reading some of these phrases or words and note in particular the ones that surprise you the most as originating from the famous playwright, for instance, “Neither a borrower or a lender be” is from Hamlet!

See free Shakespeare whenever you can. The outdoor play season is upon us and many towns, both large and small, usually offer plays in the park or at an outdoor amphitheater. The best part of these performances, other than the price, is that small, fidgety children can be whisked off to the side if they become tired or bored (or loud). Sit near the front to the side. The nearness of the actors, the action, and the sound of their voices will keep the kids engaged longer than you think. In the space of a week we saw a wonderful family-friendly rendition of “The Comedy of Errors” produced by a local repertory company and a 30-minute performance in a small town library put on by some high school students from the drama department. It doesn’t matter if these are world class productions or not — expose your kids to the language and the sounds of Shakespeare — you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what sticks.

For the older kids, think about taking an adapted or abridged script and acting it out. Reader’s theatre can be a great option for exploring language, plot, themes, and character development. Last year, our homeschool group used Shakespeare for Reader’s Theatre Volume I by John Poulsen (it can be purchased on Google Play for $7.99). It contains three plays: “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” All three are abridged to a large extent for brevity’s sake, but use Shakespeare’s original language. Some characters have been eliminated, but the stories remain intact. An overview and synopsis of each play are included so students can get a feel for the play’s overall meaning as well as its publishing history and dates of past important productions.

There are many wonderful resources available on-line for the study of Shakespeare, use them, but don’t forget to experience the art form in the way it was intended — perform it, watch it, and enjoy!

And, for the curious, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is not attributed to Shakespeare, but is thought to be an old English proverb which the Scottish author Samuel Smiles used in a quote about achievement.

How will you honor Shakespeare today? Tell us in the comment section so we can share in the celebration!

Angela (24 Posts)

Angela is co-founder of Mosaic Freeschool and a homeschooling mom to two never-been-to school kids. Born in Southern California and raised on the East Coast, Angela had a bit of an unconventional education, but did not consider homeschooling seriously until her first child was born. Believing that young children learn best from those that love them most, Angela and her husband John chose homeschooling for their two boys. She is dedicated to the advancement of alternative education choices, creating the web-site Raising Autodidacts in 2011 to further explore the idea of fostering the self-taught individual. In June of 2013, she started an instructional writing service called Gathering Ink .

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Carnival of Homeschooling: The Building Character Edition


The Homeschool Post is happy to host this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.  We’re continuing our month-long focus on building character in our children.  Homeschooling is about more than just academics — it is a lifestyle of learning with an emphasis on strong character.  How do you encourage your children to make good choices and to think critically?  In a culture sadly lacking in good role models, how do we point out positive examples of good character?

Building Character @hsbapost

Cindy at Our Journey Westward shares a simple way to teach your children about positive character traits by making a Fruit of the Spirit tree craft.  She has a 10-Day series devoted to teaching values.

Machelle at Kingdom Life and Blessings shares a beautiful testimony of building character in her post Disaster Relief and Home Education.

Would you like to see some character-building and discipleship resources in action?  Victoria at Homemaking with Heart shows what they are using in their homeschool and shares her thoughts on the topic of discipleship.

In case you missed it, our team writer Renee wrote an excellent post, The Parenting Road to Good Character.  It’s a great reminder that we are to teach by example.

You can read a 5-Day series on Discipling our Daughters, as well as a post about Purposeful Homeschooling on Embracing Destiny.

There are so many great homeschool blogs around the web.  Here are just a few for your reading enjoyment:

The importance of competition and comparison for homeschooled teens at Tea Time with Annie Kate.

Science Reference Books to Have on Hand is a handy-dandy list from Nerd Family.

A Net in Time shares a day in the life of learning without the use of books (at least directly). She says, “We had bugs and dirt and decomposition and discovery. It was the best day ever!”

You can find free Revolutionary War activities for a unit study from Funtastic Unit Studies.  These are also made to complement the Our America history series book The Revolutionary War Adventure by Susan Kilbride.

Finally, Carnival founder Henry Cate shares I am Grateful for Homeschooling at Why Homeschool.

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Sara (17 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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5 Tips For Homeschooling Through a Move


Our family has a really big life change coming in the next month or so.  A big move.  We have sold the home we have lived in since my daughter was one (she turns 10 soon), and are relocating to the complete other side of town.  We are leaving the familiar and entering an exciting new adventure.

5 Tips for Homeschooling Through a Move

We are grateful to have this opportunity, and that it is still within driving distance of friends (not a long distance trip kind of driving distance, but “Let’s meet our friends in town for lunch and a museum visit!” kind of driving distance…or “I’ll meet you halfway so that Suzy can come spend the night!” kind of driving distance), yet provides an amazing opportunity for our family business and for us to have space for Grandma to live on the property with us.

Needless to say, we are very excited about all of the new opportunities that await us.

With the exception of the packing.

Yep, there’s that.  And as hard as I try to wish it away, it’s not going to happen.

So I must plan…and pack…smart, not hard.  Homeschool moms have a unique challenge when it comes to planning for a move, especially when the family will be living in temporary housing while in route to their permanent location.  Which is the case for us.  We will be renting a house for the next nine months or so while my husband builds ours, which means I am potentially finishing our school year in boxes (depending on our actual move date) and beginning it while still not permanently settled.

So…for all you moms out there that are dealing with this exact “opportunity” (doesn’t that sound better than “problem” or “issue”?), I’m going to let you in on my plan of attack.


1.  Map it all out.

Here’s an example….once we have a concrete move date, I will know how many weeks of school we have left.  Those items need to be where I can get my hands on them easily.  Then…how long will it take you to unpack?  This answer is different for every family.

During this process, is there any school that has to occur to keep you on schedule with your state’s accountability system?  I am blessed to be in Texas, for many reasons, but especially for the fact that Texas does not require any reporting to the state.  So for my move, it’s all up to what I’m willing to let go and what is non-negotiable.

And then finally, if you are in temporary housing…will you be schooling through your entire time there? If not, will you still be there when school starts back up for your kids?  The answers to these questions will tell you how much you need to have in boxes that will NOT go to storage..or in the very back of a garage…or deep in the attic.  The type of planning that you do for your school year will also help answer these questions. Is your curriculum already laid out week by week for you, or do you need your materials in order to plan while you are there?


2.  Your Sharpie and labels are your friends.

Continuing in the vein of having things accessible…you need to be label crazy for this move!  I plan on having an inventory of all of the homeschooling items I have in each box that correlates with that box number.  As I will also be in temporary housing during the time in which I plan for next school year, I will also need to make sure that the things I need to do my planning are easy to get to…my highlighters, notebooks, planning binders, Pro-Click, sheet protectors…all of these are vital to the way I plan our school year.  Having any of that packed up and inaccessible would cause this homeschool mom to get a little crazy!


3.  Be willing to compromise.

I am fairly certain that when our actual move occurs, we will have finished our last week of school.  But for argument’s sake…let’s just say that we have one or two left….for the sake of sanity, would I be willing to either a) fit the necessities into the last couple of weeks before we move?  b) put them off until we were completely unpacked?  or c) Skip them altogether?

You betcha I would.  I would most likely choose a).  But any of the above would be worth reducing the stress for just a couple of weeks of school.  A few months left? That’s a different story.  But a week or two is worth working it all out.


4.  Communication is key.

Making sure that everyone around you involved in the move is clear on your wishes, and making sure that these wishes are in harmony with everyone else’s vision of what is going to happen is key.  You need to know that your hubby and the movers are very clear on where you need your homeschooling boxes to go.  Talk  to your kids about what your expectations of their schooling are during this move.  Discuss with your spouse the weeks surrounding the move, both leading up to and after….does he have different expectations of what you will spend your time doing than you do?  Everyone needs to be on the same page for this to be a smooth transition.


5.  Relax and enjoy the ride!

A family move, no matter how close or how far, can be an exciting time!  Of course there is stress involved….but an adventure nonetheless.  Your situation is what you make of it..we all know that.  God has directed you to this place and point in your life…it is up to you to decide how you will roll through it..with a song in your heart and a smile on your face, or with a sour attitude.  I, for one, will always choose the former.  I plan on enjoying every moment of this move, even those involving box packing and too much to do during crunch time.


Do you have any hints to throw my way on making this move a success?  I welcome all advice!

Ellen Pool (3 Posts)

Ellen is a homeschool mom of one who blogs about homeschooling, faith, family and fitness at Grace Tells Another Story. She homeschool an "only", and they have a blast together!! Every day is "girls day"! She and her family live outside of Houston, Texas.

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