Shakespeare Homeschool Unit – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and More

This year to share our homeschooling journey, I am going to post updates on our unit studies we do, rather than on a month to month basis like I have in the past. I figure it is more helpful for you other homeschooling mama’s and dad’s out there who are looking for ideas/sparks for your own homeschool journey.


Lucy(9) was the spark behind starting the year off with an introduction to Shakespeare. She had really enjoyed these two graphic novels by Ian Lendler that are based on the plays but made for kids. They led to lots of questions about who Shakespeare was and what his plays were about. So we decided to jump in and start off the year with a little Shakespeare study.

Image result for zoo macbeth graphic novelRelated image

Thanks to my own parents (who read it aloud to us when we were kids) and the book “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare” by Ken Ludwig, we decided to start with Midsummer Nights Dream. It is lighthearted and silly with themes and content that can be understood by kids (mine are 9,7,3, and 1).

One of the things Ken suggests is to memorize passages – which takes knowing the subtleties of meaning and words to a whole other level. Here is the passage we worked on memorizing –

Because the passage has so many flower references, we spent some time illustrating the different flowers and learning what each flower looked like – touching and smelling some out of our own garden. And then we also learned about how flowers work in this lovely book by Gail Gibbons

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And this enchanting one by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak

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I made some pretty little printouts to show and talk about each of the different plants referenced. Feel free to print your own and use them for personal use if you want. Here is the pdf if you would like a copy —-> Shakespeare flowers

Speaking of printables, thank you Phee McFaddell for sharing the fun printable paper dolls. They were the perfect thing to work on while reading the original Midsummer Night’s Dream play (I only wish there were a few more of the characters! – we improvised and made our own Lysander, Hermia, Demeter, and Helena).

For the reading of the actual play, we would read a couple of scenes in the original Shakespeare, and then switch and read the same part of the story in this kids version. Lucy also jumped ahead and read several of the other stories in the collection.

By switching back and forth between the two, it made it much easier for them to understand the difficult language of the original version.

Shakespeare Childrens Story Collection 16 Books Box | Andrew Matthews Tony Ross

Here are the books we used all together –

Along with the literature side, we learned some history of the era following Susan Wise Bauer’s “Story of the World”. She has an awesome chapter on the Elizabethan Era and also one on Shakespeare. (I think this series has the WORST cover design ha ha with some of the BEST content. The activities companion book has some seriously awesome and creative ideas that go a long with the history).

The Story of the World, 4 Volume Set - By: Susan Wise Bauer

As well as doing some map work, and some coloring pages from the book, the girls chose to learn about 1200’s remedies and potions

The Shakespeare chapter also talked about stage fighting which was perfect because Lucy has been doing fencing lessons this month, which she LOVES

As well as stage fighting, we pulled from this awesome list of drama games and had a great time learning stage directions, playing improv, and miming.

(The only photo I could find of this was of Tim, ha ha)

We decided to wait on watching Shakespeare in Love (partly because I love that movie so much and I want to save it for when they are a little older), but we did watch the clip from the end with Queen Elizabeth.

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Once we finished reading the play, which we LOVED, the girls worked on making a set for our tiny “Fable Theater” so that we could put on our own stage production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Overall, an awesome unit! So fun!



“Monarch Migration” Painting Story and Process Photos

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.

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“Monarch Migration”
15X30  mixed media on canvas

The farm I grew up on is in the heart of the prairie in Kansas. It is a 30 minute drive on dusty dirt roads to the nearest civilization. My parents apple orchard is surrounded by 180 acres of native prairie and forests. Their driveway is over a mile long – and because the county maintenance trucks won’t maintain driveways, it was usually in pretty rough shape – horribly muddy in the spring, treacherously icy in the winter, and full of sand pits in the summer. Our mailbox was at the end of the driveway and a daily ritual was to walk and get the mail.

On this particular day in September, when I was probably about 8 years old, I remember turning the corner at the mailbox and feeling like something was different. There was a quivering energy to the air. I looked up and noticed hundreds of monarchs in the sky above me. And then, as I looked closer at the trees lining the roadway, I gasped, because what I had first thought were leaves fluttering in the wind were actually wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. I had happened upon the migration of monarchs.

I’m not sure why the butterflies ended up in KS that year. It’s out of their normal migratory path. After I left home, my parents had them come through one other year. But I have never seen them again.

We are losing monarchs. There are less and less every year. Their main source of food, the milkweed plant is being displaced by fields and housing and mowers. The older I get, the more I am becoming aware of how fleeting everything around us is. How delicate the beauty of these tiny wings. How necessary it is to pause and notice the flutters hidden in the branches.

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November Calendar Free Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper


November is muted colors, fiery oranges and reds fading to browns and purples. The chill that has been hiding in the air stepping forward and taking the stage. Mittens and coats become a daily reality. It is a month of hot soup, casseroles, and feasting. A month about reflections on family, memories, and home. To dig into November, read this simple poem, make this perfect autumn chicken dinner,  and follow this practice of Thanksgiving.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen.

For the desktop, click on the small thumbnail below to view the large size image.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:
NOVEMBER 2015 desktop_v2 (1)

iPhone Wallpaper:
iphone NOVEMBER_v2

May 2015 Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

May is bold. An embracing of a new season. A stepping into new bright venues and phases of life. The shedding of timidity and stepping fully into the light. Here is to bold beginnings for summer. Start off with a new desktop for your computer and iphone.  For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. Enjoy!

For iPhones:

iphone may

For Desktops (Click the small thumbnail below to download the large sized file.):
may 2015 desktop

For more inspiration for May, check out our list of “Stretch” themed activities – including a daily workout regime, and read this poem written by Tim.

Thank you Angie Makes for the fun graphics to play with!

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