Twelfth Night for Children: A Unit on the Twelth Night Play by Shakespeare

Page content

Why Twelfth Night?

Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s comedies, deals with a case of mistaken identity. Illyria is the setting of this play, and Viola has been shipwrecked here. She winds up dressing as a boy and wreaking havoc upon everyone’s hearts. This theme is played on many times in different literature - and it is a good one in terms of entertaining a classroom full of children. You can use this play as a springboard to discuss whether it is ever OK to pretend you are someone you are not.

Materials Needed

To discuss this play, you will want to have on hand at least one of the following adaptations: Bruce Coville’s Twelfth Night (ISBN 0803723180), Jennifer Mulherin’s Twelfth Night (Shakespeare for Everyone) (ISBN 1842340476), or Lois Burdett’s Twelfth Night For Kids (ISBN 0887532330). You may wish to have Burdette’s adaptation on hand for inspiration and ideas even if you choose Coville or Mulherin as your preferred adaptation.

It is highly suggested that you show your students “Twelfth Night” by Shakespeare Animated Films and Soyuzmultfilm on videocassette.

You will also wish to have on hand crafts materials so that students can make the collage project.

It may be fun to teach the first class in “disguise” in order to excite the class about the theme of this classic work.


Day 1: Introduce Twelfth Night to your students. Use the time after reading the play to discuss the plot, characters, and the setting to ensure everyone understood the premise.

Day 2: Watch the animated Twelfth Night video. Discuss differences between reading and performing a play.

Day 3: Have students make a collage of Illyria. They can either work on their own or in groups. If they work in groups, have students make a collage of one of the scenes of the play. In order to ensure this goes smoothly, assign each group a specific scene. The collages can be made of tissue paper, magazine clippings, etc.

Day 4: Have students present their artwork to the class. Talk about how in Shakespeare’s time only men were in plays.

Day 5: Talk about the moral implications of the play. If you assign homework, assign on Monday for students to write (or think about) the question: Is it ever acceptable to pretend you’re someone you’re not? -or- Have you ever pretended you were someone else? Use these questions as a springboard to talk about what happens when someone pretends to be someone else while referring to the characters in the play.

This post is part of the series: Shakespeare For Kids

This article series demonstrates how teachers can use four Shakespeare plays in their elementary curriculum.

  1. Teach Your Elementary Students Shakespeare
  2. Teaching Children Macbeth
  3. Teaching Children Twelfth Night
  4. Teaching Children The Tempest
  5. Creative Ways to Teach Children A Midsummer Night’s Dream