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Millions of primary pupils set to celebrate Shakespeare

With this year's event just around the corner, here is what to expect from Shakespeare Week

Posted by Lucinda Reid | February 16, 2018 | Events

This March more than two million primary school children across the UK will be celebrating Shakespeare’s timeless stories and poetry as part of Shakespeare Week.  The free scheme for primary school children and their families is run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times.

Sally Gray, Shakespeare Week Education Officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Every child should have the chance to experience the best of our heritage and culture.  Since we launched Shakespeare Week in 2014, five million children have been introduced to Shakespeare’s stories, characters and language.  Teachers tells us that as well as having fun with Shakespeare, children also gain improved communication, creative and critical thinking skills, greater confidence, and broadened horizons.”

“Teachers benefit too: in 2017, when half the nation’s school participated, 37% of teachers hadn’t taught Shakespeare previously, and 57% had introduced new ways for pupils to explore creativity in the classroom,” continued Sally. “These results powerfully put paid to any notion that Shakespeare is boring and difficult, lacks relevance or is somehow ‘for others’.”

What’s happening during Shakespeare Week:

The Big Shakespeare Poetry Performance

Primary school children across the land are invited to watch a special broadcast of Will’s Wonderful Words – a poetry and storytelling performance inspired by Shakespeare. Hosted by children’s TV presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, this lively 30-minute broadcast explores a range of poetry styles from rapping to soundscapes, featuring original works and poems by the children of Mapledene Primary School in Birmingham. Highlights include a comedy sketch featuring Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II (actors Ben Crystal and Will Sutton) debating ‘proper’ pronunciation, Shakespeare Rap performed by The Sonnet Man with his band of young ‘sonneteers’, and exclusive performances from poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan. The performance will be broadcast throughout the week on the Shakespeare Week Website.

Shakespeare books in the wild

On 12 March, 154* Shakespeare books for children will be released into the ‘wild’ in the biggest Shakespeare book hunt of all time. In partnership with Walker Books and The Story Museum, 154 specially chosen schools will read and set their book free in communities across the country, from the Channel Islands to the Orkneys, and everywhere in between. People are encouraged to find a Wild Book, read it and pass it on somewhere in the community for another lucky child to find. They may be found in a bus shelter, on a park bench, in a café or even at the end of a supermarket till. Follow the Wild Books’ journeys on the Shakespeare Week twitter account @ShakespeareWeek using the hashtag #Shpassiton.  *Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets.

Shakespeare goes digital

Children can now take their Shakespeare learning beyond the classroom with Mission Shakespeare - a free online interactive challenge brimming with fun activities and games to complete in school or at home for a chance to earn special digital badges. Designed in partnership with MakeWaves, Mission Shakespeare will have a new series of storytelling and poetry challenges this year for children to complete and earn badges.  

Get out and about

Shakespeare Week is supported by some of the country’s best loved cultural institutions, from museums and galleries, to theatres and heritage attractions, all hosting an exciting programme of activities throughout the week. More than 1000 libraries in communities across the country are also taking part in Shakespeare Week, offering a range of fun activities including storytelling sessions with the Shakespeare Story Sacks.  

The Woodland Trust is launching a new Green Tree Schools Award Challenge all about the mysterious, fantastical world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Registered schools can take part in fun storytelling and Shakespeare-themed nature trails in the woods for a chance to earn Green Tree Award points for their school.

Shakespeare Week is a great time to visit the five historic Shakespeare houses in Stratford-upon-Avon. A jam-packed programme of family activities throughout the week includes magical storytelling in the woods, pop-up Shakespeare puppet shows, quill writing and making story wands.  If you can’t make it to Stratford, you could always catch a virtual tour of Shakespeare’s Birthplace online, hosted by school children.

Free award-winning resources for schools and home educators

Teachers will have access to over 150 free resources across every curriculum subject in KS1 and KS2, offering a fantastic suite of ideas and teaching aides to make Shakespeare fun for pupils. This year a new collection of creative poetry and storytelling resources are available to download, including short videos with storytelling tips from The Story Museum, drawing Shakespeare cartoons with children’s author and illustrator, Marcia Williams, and The Queen’s English – a hilarious sketch on Shakespearian pronunciation written by linguist Prof. David Crystal and performed by actors Will Sutton and Ben Crystal. Home educators and families can also access these resources and celebrate Shakespeare Week at home.

Teachers, home educators and families can access free resources and ideas to explore Shakespeare across all subjects in the national curriculum including numeracy, geography, and computing. To take part in Shakespeare Week 2018, visit 

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