Words, Words, Words . . .
A celebration of Shakespeare’s legacy
by Becky May
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday and consider why words are so important.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Words, Words, Words...) and the means to display them.
- Welcome the children to the assembly and begin by asking how they are feeling today. Does anyone in the group have a birthday this month? How old will they be? How will they be celebrating?
- Show Slide 1.
Tell the children that April is the month when William Shakespeare was born. Explain that he was born in April 1564 and died in April 1616. Actually, historians believe that Shakespeare was born on 23 April, the same day that he died in 1616!
- Ask the children whether they know anything about William Shakespeare, such as where he lived and what he did.
Invite the children to share what they know and explain that Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and went to London to further his career. His plays are still acted, studied and loved around the world, even though they are over 400 years old!
- Tell the children that Shakespeare didn’t just leave his plays and poems as his legacy, he also gave us many of the words that we use today.
Show Slide 2.
Explain that each of these words is attributed to William Shakespeare. Some of them may have been words that he heard elsewhere, but they are all credited to Shakespeare as words that he invented.
- Ask the children whether they have any favourite words: perhaps words that they have recently learnt, words that sound fun to say or words that they have created.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain to the children that we have much to thank Shakespeare for: his plays, his poems and his words! This month, perhaps we may want to find out more about him and the things that he wrote.
Time for reflection
Encourage the children to make themselves really quiet and think quietly to themselves while you talk to them.
Remind the children that words can be fun, but they can also be powerful. Good words can build people up, but some words can put people down, insult them and knock their confidence.
Point out that the Bible has a lot to say about this and gives some good advice to us about the words that we say.
Show Slides 3-5.
Share the proverbs on each slide, taking a moment after each one to pause and invite the children to reflect. You may like to invite the children to tell you about things that strike them in each proverb, or use the time for quiet reflection.
- (Slide 3) As a tree gives us fruit, healing words give us life. But evil words crush the spirit. (Proverbs 15.4)
- (Slide 4) Pleasant words are like a honeycomb. They make a person happy and healthy. (Proverbs 16.24)
- (Slide 5) What you say affects how you live. You will be rewarded by how you speak. (Proverbs 18.20)
Encourage the children to take some time to think about these verses in the week ahead. Ask them to think about the impact of the words that they say: to think before they speak.
Thank you for writers, stories and plays.
Thank you for gifts of creativity and invention.
Help us to think carefully about the power of words and the words that we say, and to think before we speak.
‘Dufus’ by Doug Horley, available at: https://sonichits.com/video/Doug_Horley/Dufus (4.02 minutes long)
You could also play some Elizabethan music to create the appropriate atmosphere. An example is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xXiSDI7KQQ (55.42 minutes long)
- As a class, you may like to find out more about William Shakespeare, perhaps looking at one of his plays together. The Royal Shakespeare Company provides free resources online at: www.rsc.org.uk/education
- Encourage the children to use affirming words to build each other up. You could hold a circle time to talk more about the power of words, or play some games to practise encouraging each other verbally.