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Teaching Shakespeare With Free Resources

by | May 19, 2022 | curriculum, general homeschooling, reading | 0 comments

We have all heard of William Shakespeare, the English poet, playwright, and actor who is considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. Most of us also studied at least one of his works in high school. Yet, when homeschool parents teach their kids about Shakespeare’s works, it can be challenging to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many free resources available for your family to use.  Here are some of the ones I’ve found:

Spark Notes

Spark Notes provides No Fear modern English translations for 25 Shakespeare plays and sonnets. Spark Notes displays the original text of Shakespeare’s works next to the No Fear translation, making it easy to compare the translation to the original. These translations can be helpful for students who struggle to understand the original.

Spark Notes also offers study guides for many of Shakespeare’s most popular works. These study guides include plot summaries, character descriptions, information about main ideas, explanations of meaningful quotes, quizzes, and more. The plot summaries should only be read after your child reads the play, to aid in understanding, and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for reading the play.

Penguin Signet Classics

Penguin Signet Classics has downloadable teacher’s guides for several of Shakespeare’s works. These guides include historical context, a synopsis, character information, activities, comprehension questions, and more.  The guides were designed to be used with the Signet Classics books but will work well with books from other publishers. The page numbers listed in the guide just won’t match if you use materials printed by other publishers or have your child read the plays online.

Glencoe Literature Library

Glencoe Literature Library offers study guides for Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, and The Tragedy of Julius Cesar.  To find these Shakespeare guides, you will need to scroll through Glencoe’s alphabetical list of novel study guides. The  Shakespeare guides include vocabulary words, comprehension questions, active reading worksheets, writing assignments, and more.


NovelWise provides teaching resources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Julius Cesar, Macbeth, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. Each of these plays has introductory material, worksheets for each act, graphic organizers, discussion questions, and activity ideas. To locate the Shakespeare resources, choose “find by author. ” Next, choose “s,” and you’ll see several Shakespear plays in the list displayed.  

Shakespeare Online

At Shakespeare Online, your child can read the complete text of numerous Shakespeare plays and sonnets. You’ll also find study guides, informative articles, timelines, biographical information, quotes sorted by theme, and much more. The website also provides an extensive glossary of old and unusual words used in Elizabethan England.

Hillsdale College

On Hillsdale College’s website, you’ll find a seven lecture video course on Hamlet and The Tempest. Each lecture is 42 minutes long. There is a quiz after each lecture and a final quiz at the end of the course.

Thought Co.

Though Co. offers a collection of lesson plans and articles about teaching Shakespeare. You’ll find information about verse vs. prose, teaching Shakespearean words, performing a Shakespeare Soliloquy, Shakespeare interpretation skills, and more.

The English Renaissance in Context (ERIC)

ERIC created this set of tutorials on Shakespeare’s plays to help make learning Shakespeare more approachable. The “Shakespeare in Context”  tutorials present readers with background and contextual material for Shakespeare’s plays and a series of challenges based on that material.

Tales from Shakespeare

Tales from Shakespeare is a book written by Charles and Mary Lamb. These retellings of Shakespeare’s works were meant to introduce younger learners to Shakespeare, but they can provide a gentle introduction to Shakespeare for any age. You can read the book at the Internet Archive or listen to the audiobook at LibriVox.

Beautiful Works from Shakespeare

Children’s author Edith Nesbit wrote Beautiful Works from Shakespeare, because she wanted young children to be able to enjoy and understand Shakespeare’s great works. Her retellings of Shakespeare’s plays provide a great first introduction for all ages, not just young children. You can read the book at the Internet Archive or listen to the audiobook at LibriVox.

Speak the Speech

Speak the Speech is a non-profit theatre company that provides audio recordings of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

Open Source Shakespeare

At Open Source Shakespeare, students can read and search a library of Shakespeare’s works.

In All You Do

In All You Do offers a printable notebooking and copywork pack. This pack includes a notebooking page and copywork quote for 12 of Shakespeare’s works. The set covers Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, and Romeo & Juliet.

Homeschool Helper Online

Homeschool Helper Online’s printable lapbook has 18 different learning activities for your student to complete as part of their Shakespearean study. Some of the topics covered include Shakespeare’s birth, his plays &  poetry, and Shakespearean phrases & vocabulary.

Teaching Shakespeare With Free Resources

Note: This post was originally published on August 4, 2021, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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