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Introduction to Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Era Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #:AELP-LIT0022
Submitted by: Shelly Riddle
Endorsed by: Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Date: June 16, 1997

Grade Level(s): Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Literature

Background Information for the Teacher:

The teacher would be required to do background research on this topic to supplement their existing knowledge of the area. All information needed can be found in the books that are listed under the materials section.

Concepts Covered in the Lesson:

The main concepts covered in this lesson would be the life of William Shakespeare (i.e.. his childhood, early acting career, life as a playwright, his personal life) and the Elizabethan Era. There would be a number of concepts covered under the heading of the Elizabethan Era such as:  Queen Elizabeth I, Education, Medicine and Health, Law and Punishment, Clothing, Entertainment, Theatre, and The Globe. By covering Shakespeare’s life and the society in which he lived students will gain an appreciation of the environment in which Shakespeare’s plays were written and therefore a better understanding of the plays themselves.

Materials List:

The following books would be needed for reference:

  • Brow, Ivor. Shakespeare and His World. New York: Henry Z. Walck, Inc., 1966.
  • Halliday, F.E. Shakespeare: a pictorial bibliography. London: Thames and Hudson, 1956.
  • Shakespeare’s England. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1964.
  • Other reference materials on this subject could also be used.
  • Prepared overhead transparencies would be needed to illustrate certain aspects of the lesson (clothing).

Procedures: 1. Begin the lecture with a general description of William Shakespeare and his life. Mention that he lived in the Elizabethan Era.

2. Provide descriptions of aspects of the Elizabethan Era to the students (i.e.. Those mentioned in the concepts section). This would be done through informal discussion and input from the students.

3. Books would be circulated around the classroom at appropriate times to illustrate certain aspects of the lecture, such as the medical instruments used in this period.

4. Overheads would be used to illustrate and provide a description of the clothing of the time.

5. Students would be asked to brainstorm on the ways the Elizabethan Era is similar as well as different from our society.

6. Students would be instructed to look for aspects of the Elizabethan Era that may be brought out in the play they are going to study.


Students would be instructed to write a 1-2 page description of a day in their life if they lived in London during the Elizabethan Era. They should include aspects presented in the lesson (i.e. types of entertainment). They will have one week to complete the assignment. This essay would be marked on creativity as well as an accurate portrayal of the time.

Class discussion of comparisons between the Elizabethan Era and our own would provide an idea of how well the students understood life in that time period.

Future assignments such as having the students point out aspects within a Shakespearean play that illustrate life during the Elizabethan Era will indicate their understanding of the area. As well, through this examination students will understand how the period in which a writer lives often influence and is brought out in the literary works they produce.