Wow….just wow!



I will post about it when I recover, but it was an amazing night.  So proud of everyone!

Shakespeare Summer Club: Projects Week Three



  • Writing each individual act 

Each child had his/ her script written with parts highlighted for each character and enough copied for every person.  I am hoping to provide you all a PDF of the whole play script, in case you wanted to see exactly how five such different acts could possibl;e form a fairly seamless play.  I wrote, in my usual verbose way, narrations to link the scenes together.  Lorna then edited my work to the fullest extent possible in order to ‘not make it sound like she is reading out a twenty chapter book’ (!)  Surely I’m not that bad??

  • Practice, practice, practice

Now we had a script each for the whole play we were able to run through the play each afternoon.  And this happened anywhere they could find, even out in the front garden on occasion:

Ribbet collageweek3a

The goal of week four was for the children to learn their lines perfectly by Friday, Monday at the latest.  K12 and B11 had planned on taking my three older children out to an all you can eat lunch at a nearby restaurant (how kind is that?), but nasty Claire and nasty Lorna made learning their lines a condition of their outing (well, Lorna would be taxi, after all).  And you know what?  They learnt them nearly perfectly.  We were both so proud.

  • Filming

T and B began filming for Act I scene i, and also began arranging their text messaging Act I, scene ii.  For no reason that we or he could think of, B felt he did his best work in a pair of pink wings.  Who am I to question the mind of a genius (or at least that is what he constantly reminds us he is):

Ribbet collageweek3b

  • Choosing costumes

K did a great job choosing costumes, using our card board cut out men to help her:

Ribbet collageweek3c

  • Editing Act IV to cut it down in length

C, with L’s help, edited her act down to the required twelve minutes.  She also got words for her chosen songs, decided which verses etc to use and emailed Gary links to the chords (he would be accompanying the act on his guitar):


  • Puppet Making

L began work on her first puppet, and I think did a fabulous job at creating Thisby.  We would be adding faces and expressions later on, once all the puppets had been made:

Ribbet collageweek3e

  • Scenery

We (I) made a start on the scenery by cutting out a couple of tree shapes:


  • Discussions about the Interval

Other stuff was discussed and decisions made, such as K being in charge of making all the refreshments for the interval, as well as serving them.  We will be setting up a refreshments stand out in our hall way and K will be baking three different treats, all made in miniature, as well as tea and coffee.  It was decided that the interval would occur after Act III and would last for around twenty minutes.

  • Posters, leaflets and programs

Work also began on posters, leaflets and programs, which I will detail in another post, but I will give you a sneak preview of the art on the front of it.  A picture drawn and painted by L12:

Midsummer (1)

Pretty isn’t it?

We were very happy with how this week went and very pleased we had pulled out of learning about my two other scheduled plays.  We have decided to learn about these on the Fridays K and B come here to be home schooled, so the planning won’t be a waste.

Tomorrow I will post about the forth and final week before our performance on Thursday.

Shakespeare Summer Club: Projects Week Two



Sorry to everyone who has left a message over the past week or so, I just haven’t had any spare time to answer them or visit your blog back.  I love hearing all your thoughts and I will endeavour to reply just as soon as Thursday’s performance is over.  It all hands on deck right now, and I’m kind of wishing I had more than just two hands.  This week I am sharing the process of their projects from start to finish.

This week was all about getting scripts written and rewritten.  This was also the week we were all exhausted from our shenanigans from the week before.  I was so proud of how hard the children worked at their projects even though they were also learning about Romeo and Juliet at the same time as being very tired.

This was a familiar sight through out the week as everyone tried to get their act exactly as they wanted:

Ribbet collageproject2a

Lorna and K12 did a sterling job separating the wheat from the chaff in Act III.  They had the difficult job of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of for the only act we would be performing in tradition costume using Shakespeare’s own words.  It was a huge job – thank you both, you did such a great job!

C12 began transforming Act IV into a Glee style modern Act IV.  She did such a fantastic job of choosing really appropriate songs which went so well within the context of the story.  We had allowed twelve minutes for each act, figuring an hour was as much as we felt comfortable asking the audience to sit still for.  C12 came with a sheepish grin on her face having timed her act, saying it had run over slightly.  It transpired it had lasted for 34 minutes!!  So she, very reluctantly, got editing.

B13 and T13 probably made the most headway with their acts, possibly because their were two working on them.  They had Act I written up and towards the end of the week they went into the woods nearby to find an ideal place to film their first scene.  Whilst they were gone Lorna (the nutter) was on the loo when she began humming a little tune.  By the time she had finished she had rewritten the song and sung it to the girls.

If you go down in the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down in the woods today you’ll never believe you’re eyes
For Thooomas and Braaadley are skipping along so merrily
You’ll really wish you hadn’t gone down to the woods today…… (or something like that!)

We had a little giggle, deciding to sing it to the boys on their return home (Oh, my.  Have I told you how much I have laughed in the past few weeks?).  Here are the photos of their reaction.  Priceless!

Ribbet collageproject2c

Yes, it was everything it should have been!!

L12 decided to begin designing her puppets.  The puppets would eventually be wooden spoons with sewn costumes, but for now she used cut out card people and tissue paper.  I thought she did a really good job:

Ribbet collageproject2b

A dead line was given that all acts are written completely as they are to be said and acted, as well as photocopied and all the parts highlighted by the beginning of next week (giving everyone just two weeks to learn their lines).  In addition the children needed to have allocated all the parts.  It would be a very busy weekend….

Shakespeare Summer Club: Projects Week One



He, he!  Thanks for all your suggestions on Saturday’s post.  I’ll be showing it in all it’s forest glade glory during the week, but you were all right (well apart from B13 and Lorna the nutter….).  It is in deed a tree.  I spend waaaay too much time cutting them out and have blisters to show for my efforts.  They will be dressed and made to look more tree-like for our performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It is in four days time.  Heeeelllpppp!!!

As part of the children’s Shakespeare Summer Club, they would be completing a project, using each afternoon to work on it.  The project was to put on a multimedia performance of the entire Midsummer Night’s Dream.  During the first week, I prepared discussion topics for everyone to cover which made them think about the project as a whole.  Today I am simply including my notes and the ideas the children came up with.

Day One

Mixed Media Play:

It will be mandatory to do one act as is (traditional using Shakespeare’s original words), with music (Mendelssohn), scenery and costumes.  You need to choose what you would like to do for the other four scenes.  I suggest you choose a mixture of easy and hard; and scenes you can video and one’s to do on actual day:

  • Traditional play form
  • Mime
  • Rap
  • In modern day Rhyme
  • Make an audio of the act with sound effects and music to create mood
  • Futuristic performance with new linked names so we still know who each person is but set in future Puckoid….etc
  • Rewrite act for readers theater for audience participation
  • Rewrite as readers theater for you to do
  • Do one set to music ie west side story or glee style using modern songs which are fairly/ loosely appropriate for the story line
  • Video of a modern day take on the scene
  • Rewriting one of the acts as a diary entry
  • Improvisation activity – choose one of the ones you will use over next five weeks
  • Text/ face book status it
  • unrehearsed ad lib – act without script but with prompts – must know act back to front to pull this off
  • Puppet theater

For now just choose the four further mediums.  You do not need to attach them to an act yet.  We will do that on Friday, once we have gone through the whole play.

To think about: 

  • One person needs to be in over all charge.  I suggest either B(13) or (T13) simply because it will give them good leadership practice
  • However, there are five acts.  Do you want to take control of one act each, although everyone will help, you will be in charge? or do you all want to work as a team? or do you want to do a mixture of these things? – For example B and T work well together, maybe they would like to take two acts and do them between them- they could chose the hardest (probably original play) and easiest (improvisation by audience)

The Children’s Thoughts

The children all decided it would be better if Lorna and I had overall control, rather than one of the boys.  They all wanted to take control of one act themselves.  B13 and T13 chose to work with each other, whilst the girls wanted to work independently on an act each.

For more information about the acts I wrote a detailed post here.

Day Two

How will you connect the five scenes given they will be done in different media/ genre?  Will you narrate between them, explaining what the audience are about to experience? Will you maybe make a program which explains everything?  Other ideas?

  • Name Yourselves

You need to have a name for yourselves as an acting group, one which will reflect the stuff you do (Shakespeare/ unusual mixed media plays).  For example The London Players.  I will happily add your name to your t-shirts.

  • Costumes

Write a list of all the characters in Midsummer and go through all our dress up.  This will give you an idea of what you have and what you might need to make or source.  Your budget is practically nothing for this study so you will all have to be very creative in how you approach this.  Can you raise funds or can you ‘earn’ money from charity shops by taking in a bag of things to sell?  Any ways to get things for free??? Sell tickets to friends and family? – if you do this decide where any extra money might go ie charity.  Sarah’s mum, Judith, has offered to help.  Is there anything she could make?

The Children’s Thoughts

It was decided the children would narrate between the scenes to link them but also create a program so the guests would know what to expect in advance.  They called themselves ‘The Surrey Shakespearean Stragglers’.  Having gone through all the dressing up the children felt it was probably adequate but they would begin to fill up the charity shop bags in anticipation of any needs which cropped up at a later date.

Day Three

  • Parts

How are you going to decide which parts everyone will take?  Will there be auditions?  Who will have the final say?  You will need a panel of people so choices are not personal – could you use parents?  There will be lots of parts.  Will you leave out some of the play in order to simplify it?  And possibly use a narrator?  Are you going to have a date by which the actors must know their words?

  • Rehearsal Space

This will be anywhere and everywhere.

  • Performance Space/Set

You will be performing in our dining area.  We will be moving our table and chairs next door so that whole area is free.  How can we make this space look more like a stage?  Do you need a set?  How will you make it, who will make it and how will you pay for or find what it’s made of?  Will you need interchangeable ones – for example usually reader’s theater requires nothing but the readers and the script.  The main set should be the one you do with original play.  I have some huge blank card which might do as scenery, which you can decorate.  Who will be in charge, if anyone?  Or are you in charge of the scenery for the act you are already in charge of?

  • Completing Acts

One of your Acts will be Shakespeare’s original which just needs to be photocopied and highlighted (or save work and simply use the book provided).  You will need to work on having another Act finished (for example, if you are using a Reader’s theater it will need to be photocopied and highlighted)  This is where choosing hard and easy acts will pay off, as all five Acts need to be completed by the end of this week/beginning of next.

The Children’s Thoughts

It was agreed that the person who was in charge of the act would choose whether or not the actors needed to audition.  Either way, they had complete control over which person played each character.  And everyone agreed to be enthusiastic over their parts no matter what.  The main scenery would be the forest and the huge card board would be used.  Scenery would be a collaborative effort between everyone, including Lorna and myself.

Day Four

  • Dates

What date will the play be on?  When will you have the dress rehearsal?

  • Interval

We will aim for the entire performance to last an hour.  Do you want to have an interval mid way through?  If so will you serve refreshments?  Who will be in charge of that?

  • Dress rehearsal

Do at least one of these. It is when everything is exactly as if there is an audience but no one is watching.  If there are any mistakes, or actors forget their lines, the show must keep going just as it would if there was an audience. Don’t stop for technical problems etc.  You should have an interval of the same length as it will be in the real thing (If you’re having one).  Do the curtain call etc exactly as it will be.  This is a chance for everyone to run the whole show through before an audience is there

The Children’s Thoughts

It was agreed the performance would be held on the 27th August, late afternoon.  The dress rehearsal would be held a couple of days beforehand.  They decided to have a short interval after the third act.  Refreshments would be served, which K11 would be in charge of.

Day Five

  • Ending a play

Will you have an after party? Need to thank everyone – will need a speaker at the end of play to give thanks and notify about any after party/ celebrations

  • Acts to write

This week you need to focus on getting your alternative acts written (traditional one won’t need to be written, also reader’s theater won’t need to be written).  Work together to get them written by Monday at the latest.

The Children’s Thoughts

Everyone wanted an after party, although I suggested we had an after-Shakespeare Summer party in September after we had completed the study entirely.  We would all organise this, just for fun!

We thought we would ask either Gary or Andrew (B and K’s Dad) to do the thank you’s to everyone who came and helped in any way.

Work began immediately for each child to write their act out, exactly how they wanted it.  We set a dead line for the next Monday, knowing it was a steep ask, but hoping it might give a push in the right direction….

Tomorrow I will share all the work we did in the second week towards the projects.


What Do You Think……


……..this is?


Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Act V



For Act I

For Act II

For Act III

For Act IV

Romeo and Juliet Act V, Scenes I-III

Watch a Stage Production of Act V, Scenes I-III 

The children completed watching Romeo and Juliet on a road trip with their father on the Saturday.


Readers’ Theater simply shakespeare

As another means of drilling the story deep into the children we carried out a reader’s theater performance of Act V.  This particular rewrite leaves a lot out but focuses on key scenes.  The scenes do not correspond with the actual scenes in the play.  To cover Act V from the actual play we needed to read scene eleven to scene nineteen from the book above.  This takes us to the end of the play in this book which means they do not cover Act V:

Ribbet collagenow

 Making Up Words

Did you know a lot of the words and well known phrases we use today have their origin in Shakespeare’s head?  Yes, if he didn’t quite have the right word to express that which he wished to express he made one up!  I knew I was brighter than my school teachers thought I was….One of the most common remarks left on my work during secondary school was ‘This word does not exist!’  If only they knew…..

I had the children view this Horrible Histories video.  And then another.  Always a good laugh!

I read out a few sayings of Shakespeare and some of his made up words, particularly focusing on Act IV.

Then I wanted them to write a paragraph each containing at least three made up words and one made up phrase.  They then needed to read it out and we all had to try to figure out exactly what was being said in the paragraph:

Ribbet collagemadeupwords

It was weird just how hard this was for everyone.  It must be so ingrained to only use accepted words, that the idea of actually creating their own was almost beyond their capability.  The girls (twins) had already made up one word in their time as twins.  We don’t allow arguing or bickering in the house.  The girls assure me, though, that they never argue, they only disagrin.  This is apparently nothing like arguing, more twin disagreeing with a grin :)

Project Based Learning

We decided to cut today short.  I think a lack of interest in the play and tiredness from the previous week’s work had created some very lethargic children.  Lorna and I felt it was best to step in and cancel the rest of the day and rest well over the weekend so we could come to it fresh Monday morning.

Shakespeare Film Night

Each Friday evening we had planned on having a Shakespeare Film Night.  Although we had shortened the day, my guys found relaxing to this film in the afternoon a perfect remedy to their lethargy and they all enjoyed it very much in deed!


This saw the finale to our week studying Romeo and Juliet.

We will be focusing on our projects for our very own production of Midsummer Night’s Dream which is coming up very shortly.

Weekly Wrap-Up  Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliette Act IV



Romeo and Juliet Act IV, Scenes I-V

Watch a Stage Production of Act IV, Scenes I-V (25 mins)


Readers Theater (30 mins)

simply shakespeare

As another means of drilling the story deep into the children we carried out a reader’s theater performance of Act IV ( we did this during our catch up time on Friday).  This particular rewrite leaves a lot out but focuses on key scenes.  The scenes do not correspond with the actual scenes in the play.  To cover Act IV from the actual play we needed to read scene  to scene  from the book above.

Scene 14 and 15: Planning Juliet’s ‘death, and her ‘death’

Ribbet collagerj

Literary Analysis (30 mins)

  • Monologue (Greek) means ‘single speech’ which is made by one person in the company of others.  It is usually on the long side.
  • Soliloquy (Latin) also means ‘single speech’ but in a performance sense a soliloquy is differentiated from a monologue by the fact it is spoken by one person who is alone on the stage.

We reread Juliet’s impassioned soliloquy in Act IV as she prepares herself to take the drug which will render her ‘dead’.  First we read it out in original Shakespeare and then in Modern day English.  I asked the children to emphasise the iambic pentameter as they read.  We learn through the soliloquy that she is terrified.  A few alternate situations go through her head, which foreshadow that which is to come.  We revisited what fore-shadowing meant and  I left it at that.

Discussion (Done with my three Wednesday night)

Chatting with my three older children is a huge blessing to me and a window to their hearts.  It also allows me to see the direction in which their thought processes are moving, allowing me to step in if necessary.  This was no exception.  It was incredibly fun listening to them rejoicing that they would never need to clean their rooms again until they were ‘grown up’.  The (dubious) reason being that their untidiness had nothing to do with laziness and general messiness, but because their brains weren’t fully developed enough to be able to recognise the mess!  This back fired somewhat when I responded that this was one area they obviously needed to submit to me and do as I say, because their judgement was obviously impaired by lack of maturity!  This was followed up by the instruction to tidy their rooms!  He, he!  Gotta to love teens!

Does being a Teenager Affect your Ability to make Sensible Decisions? 

There have been quite a few modern ‘Romeo and Juliet’ stories in the news over the past few years.  Stories of teens running away to get married; teens committing suicide because parents wouldn’t allow them to date.  Of course there are stories of non-teens doing the same thing but for this discussion we were focused on the teens.  I wanted to know if being a teen in any way impacted these types of life altering choices, and I wanted the children to begin to ask the question ‘Would the same decision be made if they had been a few years older?’

I had photocopied a leaflet about the way a teen’s brain is wired, which they read.  We discussed any choices they had made which retrospectively they could see weren’t the most sensible.  I questioned whether pushing your parents away during this time was a good idea?  We talked about how parents and teens could work in tandem to create a really special adolescent experience.  I left them with a quote from Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale:

When a shepherd wishes “there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.”

Then I told them I couldn’t agree less and that I thought the teen years are awesome years.  I made sure they understood that just because society in general expects the worse they should not feel the need to conform to this expectation.  I encouraged them to read The Rebelution and the authors’ book  Do Hard Things.  These have revolutionised the way my son views himself and will now be required reading for all four girls.

This discussion came at a really good time in my children’s lives.  Just recently they had helped out at a holiday club and some teen, who was also helping out, teased my girls about their obedience to both Gary and myself, sneering that they allowed their parents to dictate to them with regards to a variety of things.  One of my girls has spent the past week or so pushing our parental boundaries and we had wondered why.  Now we know.  This was a great opportunity to discuss that the teen years in our house are a collaborative effort between teen and parent.  We explained that there were some decisions they were too young to make right now and that we needed as parents to step up and ensure their safety by insisting certain rules be obeyed (like for example, cleaning their bedrooms….mwaaahahahaha!).  This play really gave them insight into how true this could be.  I am pleased to say that my sweet-natured twin has returned to her normal lovely self, thank goodness!

Finally we briefly discussed what Romeo and Juliet may have done differently if they had been a little bit older.

What different types of love do we see in Romeo and Juliet?

  • Unrequited Love: Romeo for Rosaline, Paris for Juliet
  • Romantic Love: Romeo and Juliet
  • Parental Love: Lord and Lady Capulet for Juliet, Lord and Lady
  • Montague for Romeo, Nurse for Juliet
  • Friendship: Romeo and Benvolio, Romeo and Mercutio, Romeo and
    Friar Laurence, Nurse and Juliet
  • Love of Family Honor: Tybalt, Mercutio, Romeo

What are the Types of love described in the Bible?

  • Eros Love: Eros is a Greek term which actually means desire and longing.  Eros love is based on the strong feeling we have towards one another and it usually develops during the 1st stage of a romantic relationship. This kind of love is based on the physical traits and tends to be a selfish love.
  • Agape Love: Agape love is not determined by our feelings; it is more a doing word than a feeling word.  With agape, a person demonstrates love even when they may not feel that love.  We talked about how sometimes in a marriage or friendship you may not feel very loving towards the person but agape love continues to love in spite of a lack of feelings.  It is this type of love, rather than eros love which allows couples to stay together regardless of transient feelings.  Often to love even when you do not feel the love results in feelings of love.  It’s a win win!
  • Philos Love: This refers to loving one another just like your brother or sister.   This is the love between friends in a Biblical sense and, whilst wonderful to experience both the giving and receiving of philos type love, it tends to be unreliable when problems set in, unless agape love bridges the gap until the philos love returns.

The Ethics of Killing 


One of my favourite things about having teenage children is their ability to discuss almost anything passionately.  Since having children, I have learnt that to bring them up with a black and white view of the world will not only render them judgemental but also won’t do them any favours later on in life when they realise there are a lot of grey areas.

Romeo and Juliet is misunderstood if it is merely thought of as a romance.  This sells it short in the extreme.  Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy extraordinaire.  Six lives are lost to murder, suicide and revenge.  Six lives that can never be brought back.  All gone in a flash.   In this act alone there is murder and much hinting towards suicide from both Romeo and Juliet (foreshadowing).

I wanted to discuss the ethics of killing.  I created a sheet of points I wanted them to consider which would help them discuss Is killing someone ever morally justifiable?  Not the ethics of murder, but the ethics of killing.  I left lots of time for this because there was much to cover.   We talked about every instance of killing I could think of from war to suicide to execution as well as murder verses killing.  I had included prompts to direct their discussion but made sure not to pass an opinion myself.  I then gave them a couple of Christian apologetics articles on this topic to round off the whole session with how God views killing someone.  They can be found here and here.

I found it very interesting hearing their responses.  T, who would be older in both years and maturity, was able to see the whole discussion in all the different hues of grey, whereas C tended to be more black and white.  Again, there was no right or wrong, but I do love having a good discussion with my (almost) three teens.  Their views will often make me re-think my own.  I posed the question of killing in self defense, when the choice was your death or the death of the other person.  T and L believed that death under those circumstances would not be considered murder but manslaughter, as there was no intent.  C believed killing is killing no matter what.  She said she would simply negotiate with the would-be killer, and offer him whatever he wanted (!).  There would, in her reasoning, be no need to kill her then.  She was emphatic though that she would consider killing to be wrong under any circumstances.  She would rather die innocent than live having killed someone.

Talking with them about capital punishment was interesting and very probably has changed my view on it.  I have always believed it to be a good thing if someone commits brutal murders repeatedly, but my very passionate daughter was horrified by this!  She gave me a very good argument about killing someone through capital punishment, who perhaps because of some (presently unknown) disorder was unable to fully comprehend their actions (mad or bad argument).  If that were the case we would be killing an innocent man.  It made me realise that, whilst I believed it could be a good thing in certain circumstances, I absolutely wouldn’t be able put my money where my mouth was.  If I was in the position of influencing law, I’m not sure I would be able to actually vote for capital punishment or even worse, be able to order it on some one’s head.  It made me very glad that I am not called to make judgement calls in this area.  Believing something in principal is very different from doing it in actuality.

Just love my passionate teens!

As most of this work was done Wednesday evening whilst we were eating dinner, and we took Thursday completely off, no project work was completed on this day.

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