This article discusses a week's worth of activities centering around Shakespeare's Tempest for children. Also discussed are recommended resources for teaching this classic to elementary students.
The Tempest is a true ghost story - depicting a lonely old man's (Prospero) love for his daughter, Miranda. This is a fun story that deals with magic and whether or not one should use such a power to help and to punish. Below are ideas for helping this story come alive in the minds of young students.
The best adaptation available of The Tempest for children is Bruce Coville's William Shakespeare's The Tempest (ISBN 0440412978). This version avoids the oft-confusing flashbacks of the original play and is suitable for young listeners. You may wish to have Lois Burdett's The Tempest for Kids (ISBN 1552093263) on hand for craft and activity ideas.
You also will want to put your hands on Shakespeare Animated Films The Tempest. This great, thirty minute adaptation can really bring the story to life for your classroom.
Finally, your students will be making puppets of the main characters of the story, and putting together their own brief versions of different scenes to act out. You will want to have felt of different colors, Popsicle sticks, and googly eyes as well as glue on hand for this project.
The Week's Plan
Day One: Introduce the play to your students. Perhaps have on a magician's hat if available while reading the story in order to signify the role magic takes place in this Shakespearian tale. After reading the story, discuss the plot, characters and style of The Tempest.
Day Two: Watch the animated The Tempest and discuss the story once again with the class, this time ensuring that all students understand the plot.
Day Three: Have students make puppets based upon the main characters of the story. Students will construct their puppets by cutting shapes out of the felt and gluing them to the Popsicle sticks. You can break the students up into groups and assign each person in the group a different puppet. Then have each group put together a short skit.
Day Four: The students will perform their Tempest skits in front of the rest of the class with their puppets.
Day Five: Discuss whether it is ever acceptable to use power to punish or reward those a person likes or dislikes. If you assign homework in relation to this unit, have students write about whether they've ever used power to harm or help someone else and how this made them feel.