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Shakespeare Week 2021 goes digital

Virtual celebrations use Shakespeare to support children's wellbeing

Shakespeare Week 2021

Shakespeare Week, the annual national celebration of Shakespeare in primary schools, will be presented entirely online this year with a fresh and exciting programme to support teachers, families and children with their home schooling adventures.

Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, this year’s Shakespeare Week runs from 15 – 21 March and carries the theme of wellbeing. Joining the virtual celebrations are some of the country’s best-loved children’s authors, artists and celebrities, including CBeebies presenter Ben Cajee and CBBC’s Nikki Lilly, providing a wealth of activities and workshops to bring Shakespeare to life.

Shakespeare’s own story and his timeless works are amongst the most powerful and profound avenues for understanding ourselves and our experience in the world. This year’s theme is designed to offer teachers, home educators and parents with valuable resources and activities, using Shakespeare’s works and his language to inspire children and support their emotional wellbeing. All of the resources are available free of charge at www.shakespeareweek.org.uk.

Sally Gray, education officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “There’s no denying that the pandemic and associated restrictions over the last 10 months have impacted on children’s learning, attainment and their wellbeing, which is why this year’s theme is all the more important. Although Shakespeare was writing over 400 years ago his ability to explore human emotions and the creative language he used to describe the human spirit remains relevant today. His words provide a wonderful vehicle for children to discuss human attributes such as resilience and self-esteem and to explore their own characteristics, feelings and identities.

“In the seven years that Shakespeare Week has been running we’ve demonstrated that making Shakespeare fun and accessible for children can have a positive impact in the development of their imagination, creativity and social skills. We hope that everyone will enjoy exploring this year’s theme and it will spark a new interest in Shakespeare.”

Highlights for Shakespeare Week 2021

Everyday throughout Shakespeare Week children can tune in to inspiring daily broadcasts hosted by celebrity guests. Look out for Shakespeare Storytime with poet Ian McMillan, mindful meditations with children’s author Marcia Williams, draw-along with Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown, Tudor cookery with 2019 Bake Off winner David Atherton, LEGO Shakespeare animation with Art Ninja, and much more.

Children age 4-11 can also take part in an exciting competition to explore their identities and make a creative response to the famous Shakespeare quote from Hamlet - “This above all, to thine own self be true...” Supporting the competition are CBeebies presenter Ben Cajee, and teen vlogger and CBBC presenter, Nikki Lilly, who have prepared their own responses for inspiration - it could be a piece of creative writing, poem, poster, artwork, song or video. Full details are available at www.shakespeareweek.org.uk/competition.

Other activities happening throughout the week include:

  • Become a Will’s Wellbeing Warrior by completing the notebook of wellbeing activities, written and illustrated by award-winning children’s author Marcia Williams and supported by Walker Books
  • Learn about health, wellbeing and medicine in the Tudor period in a fun online exhibition - Boils, Plague Sores and Embossed Carbunkles, guest-curated by Horrible Histories’ illustrator, Martin Brown
  • Kids' Zone online challenges for children to complete at home including drawing comic strips, writing poetry or enjoying retellings of Shakespeare’s plays
  • Access over 400 free resources for teachers, home educators and families covering subjects across the curriculum, including new step-by-step video tutorials

Shakespeare Week is developed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s award-winning learning team, and supported by Arts Council England. Since its launch in 2014, over 9 million children have taken part in Shakespeare Week, which provides teachers, home educators and families with free tools to take Shakespeare into their classrooms or homeschooling, across every subject in the curriculum. For more information see www.shakespeareweek.org.uk and @ShakespeareWeek.