Shakespeare: Midsummer Night’s Dream – Day 2


For Day 1 see here

Shakespeare Biographical Work (10 mins)

Read out-loud Act 1, scene 2: John Shakespeare supports his Growing Family  from the following Shakespeare book:

shakespeare for kids

Language study

  • Iambic pentameter (20 mins)

Iambic pentameter is something I remember struggling to get my head round as a teen yet as an adult it seems so simple.  I watched all the youtube videos I could until I found a couple which seemed to explain it well.  The first is a TED video (I’m a huge fan of the TED videos):

The second I included because I thought the presenter made it more relevant by explaining that rap and hiphop has its roots in iambic pentameter.  One of the options for their final presentation of Midsummer Night’s Dream is to perform one of the Acts as a rap, so I thought this might be pertinent

Iambic pentameter describes the type of meter or rhythm used in verse.  The rhythm within verse can be described in terms of feet.  In a line of verse a foot is the number of  stressed and unstressed syllables which form a distinct unit.  An Iamb is a two syllable foot, whereby the first syllable is unstressed and the second syllable is stressed.  The pentameter describes the amount of Iambs in one line.  Pent means five so in Shakespeare’s verse there are five iambic feet per line of verse.  Once I had made sure they had grasped this, we stopped.  I would be revisiting in the afternoon.

Midsummer Night’s Dream Act II, Scene I-II (30 mins)

We all watched all of Act II filmed on location at the Globe theater (about 25 minutes) whilst nibbling on some fruit.  We made the decision to not listen to the audio production and follow along in our books, to see if we could understand it just from watching the DVD.  The children found it much harder to follow

msnd day 2a

Reader’s 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 II.  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 II from the actual play we needed to read scene three to scene six from the book above:

msnd day 2b

L made an excellent Puck, acting remarkably cheeky and impish, whilst T made a very good Oberon:

msnd day 2c

As we were handing out parts for scene six we asked who wanted to act Hermia.  No one was more surprised than T13 himself when he replied that he wanted to act her!  B must be rubbing off on him!  Then of course B acted as Lysander.  So funny!!  T spoke with a very high voice, except his voice has recently broken for the umpteenth time and he now naturally has a very low voice and hearing him try to speak like a girl was priceless!  Lorna videoed them on her phone and I so wish I knew how to put it on the blog!

msnd day 2d

Human Slide Show (60 mins)

Here are our slides from Act II (see yesterday’s post if you would like more information about what a human slide show is).  Immediately B began to get into his clothes to play Hermia.  This time he needed to put on a skirt.  Yesterday the dress was put on back to front, today the skirt was put on inside out.  C12 decided he needed a bit of help!

msnd day 2e

Everyone proceeded to set up for the first slide:

msnd day 2f


msnd day 2g

Here’s L dressing up as Puck.  The shorts are part of a pirate costume I made for them when they were four!

msnd day 2i

And here are the five different human slides for act II:

  • Demetrius and Helena enter and argue about her love for him and his lack of love for her.  Oberon makes himself invisible and listens:

msnd day 2h

  • Puck arrives with the flower and gives it to Oberon.  Oberon says that he is going to streak Titania’s eyes with the juice of the flower.  Oberon tells Puck to do the same to a man wearing Athenian clothing when Helena is near:

msnd day 2j

  • While Titania is sleeping Oberon puts the juice of the flower on her eyes and recites a charm that she will awake when some vile thing is near:

msnd day 2k

  • Hermia and Lysander fall asleep.  Puck enters and spots them.  Puck squeezes the flower’s juice onto Lysander’s eyelids:

msnd day 2l

  • Helena notices Lysander and wakes him up.  Lysander immediately expresses his love for Helena:

msnd day 2n

Break for lunch and quiet time (60 mins)

Performing Shakespeare (60 mins)

  • Iambic pentameter 

Today I wanted the children to see how iambic pentameter actually works in some of the lines we have studied thus far.  Shakespeare didn’t write all his verse in iambic pentameter, so first I needed to find a speech which did.  I chose Puck’s opening speech in Act II scene I:

The king doth keep his revels here to-night:
Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she as her attendant hath
A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling;
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy:
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.

I photocopied this speech so that each child had their own copy and asked them to highlight the stressed syllables of the Iamb. I reminded them that the iambic pentameter sounded da DAH, da DAH, da DAH, da DAH, da DAH.  so using the first line of the above speech it would sound like this:

The KING doth KEEP his REvels HERE to-NIGHT

The children’s highlighted speech and clapping it out, emphasising the stressed syllables with a loud clap:

msnd day 2o

I had the children each read out the lines of Puck’s speech, emphasising the iambic pentameter for the first couple of times and then letting it fade to become no more than a feint heart beat.  The audience should be aware of the rhythm, without their attention being obviously drawn to it.

  • When Iambic Pentameter is not Obvious

Being aware that sometime the iambic pentameter isn’t obvious, and that Shakespeare would have expected his actors to know to miss whole syllables out in order to fit the ten required syllables for iambic pentameter.  As Titania talks to Oberon in Act II Scene I, line 65 (page 44), Shakespeare uses an apostrophe to show the loss of syllables, otherwise known as elisions:

When THOU hast STOL’N aWAY from FAIry LAND

And conversely, occasionally lines need to have a syllable added.  In Oberon’s response to Titania (in line 78) a syllable needs to be added in order to achieve the ten syllables of the iambic pentameter.  In this case the -ed at the end of ravished is pronounced eg ravish-ed:

from PERiGOUna, WHOM he RAVishED

Using the iambic rhythm helps the reader give a more accurate interpretation of the text and I hoped that this lesson would help somewhat with reading Shakespearean language and so help with their performance at the end of the summer.

Project Based Learning (60 mins)

The children continued with their project Based Learning.

And last but not least….

Daily Exit Ticket

scrap book 3

Each day the children will be given some exit questions which I will write onto some scrap book paper (an exit ticket).  These were the two questions I posed today:

  1. What has been funniest moment yet?
  2. And your favourite moment today?

This exit tickets will be collected each day and I will be using them, along with photos, to create a Summer Shakespeare Club Scrap Book:


Here is day two of our scrap book memories:


Continuing with Day Three tomorrow…..


  1. Have they read a Ballet Shoes? It was my favourite book as a kid, and there’s a few chapters where the girls are part of a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  2. I have to say, i didn’t expect as much hilarity as this term has brought (sorry B13. You do need a few lessons in female clothes). I have and am having an amazing time!! Thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much. You getting up and acting like a zombie for an hour after you wake up (HA HA HA LOL only teasing) has really paid off.

    1. Thanks Sweet heart! I’m sure I’m not completely zombie-like? I mean I grunt and make coffee. I’m fairly certain zombies don’t do either of those!

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