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The most influential poet and playwright turns 448 today!

Witches, ghosts, crossdressers, villians and fairies — Shakespeare’s plays are full of some truly memorable characters and imagery. But even more importantly, they’re full of wise insight for young viewers, and your kids may find the plays more relatable than you think. After all, Shakespeare was all about throwing tantrums, wearing eccentric outfits and making up words. To thine own self be true, indeed.

READ

This interactive Globe Pop Up Theatre book shows the theatre circa 1612. All the details are there, including a ceiling painted like the heavens, thatched roof, stage, galleries and an expectant audience. Punch out characters are included so kids can act out act out the plays. Brief summaries included.

Make Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young Shakespeare one of your kids first chapter books. It’s a murder mystery with many references to Shakespeare’s plays, including an Elizabethan setting, and the characters from his plays.

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times offers 21 fun activities for readers, including juggling instructions, fencing how-to, sonnet lessons and more! Amongst the activities are tidbits of info illustrating Shakespeare’s life.

William Shakespeare and The Globe by Aliki is arranged as a play in five acts. It provides an intro into Elizabethan culture, along with fun facts about Shakespeare’s life, charts of his plays, a list of his made of words, fun quotes and guest star bios.

WATCH

Shakespeare Animated Tales is a four disc box set of a selection of Shakespeare’s plays, animated to appeal to your kids taste. His plays get the stop motion puppetry treatment, cel animation and paint on glass. Each play has been boiled down to 30 minutes, but the meaning of each still shines through.

For the 1-4 crew, Baby Einstein Shakespeare World Poetry combines poetry with classical music, puppets and nature scenes to stimulate young brains.

Did you know BBC had a TV series called The Animated Shakespeare in 1992? HBO aired it in the States and hosted by Robin Williams. They did the Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Winter’s Tale and more. Check them out here on Youtube.

FUN N’ GAMES

Bring the Elizabethan stage to your kids fingertips with this Masterpiece Puppet Theatre! The kit includes 60 different puppet cards, 12 stand up sets, 96 page folio of classic scenes. It’s great for travel!

Put together some saucy limericks and learn new words with Shakespeare themed fridge magnet poetry.

Shakespeare Paper dolls let your kid play fashion designer. Dress two characters in 30 different period costumes from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Ophelia, Otherllo and Desdemonda, Anthony and Cleopatra and many other plays.

Get your hands on some free Elizabethan word games, mazes, colouring sheets and puzzles on this great site for young Shakespeare fans.

While you’re at it, rock out to this family friendly play list of songs inspired by Shakespeare, from Taylor Swift to Elvis Costello.

TOYS

The Lil William Figurine is a 7 cm version of the literary genius, but no less monumental, especially in his adventures in the supplementary mini comic book chronicling his life and works.

Lure your kid into cleanliness with the Shakespeare rubber duck. Float him around and pretend the bath is the majestic Avon River – your kid will be a prune in no time.

Download this DIY template to make a folding stand-up Shakespeare character to hang out on your kids bookshelf!

Protect your tablet from drool with Shakespeare with this tablet case made from a Shakespeare book.

What was your introduction to Shakespeare? Was it this fun?

Photos by gorgeogoodman, cowbitemjhbowermeoplesmagazineilovememphis via Flickr

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