The Guardian Education pages online often publish guides to teaching certain subjects at different levels across the curriculum.
These can be very useful if you are looking for a new way to jazz up a subject that either you are tired of teaching in the regular way, or feel you or the children you teach can benefit from understanding in a different way.
Recently there was an article providing links to lots of different ideas and ways of teaching Shakespeare in schools.
One of the articles suggested that teachers start introducing the language of Shakespeare by picking out some of the best insults from the plays (of which there are many), and teaching them to the children.
She went on to describe how she had created a competition within the classroom where the children traded Shakespearean insults with each other.
I think this is a fantastic idea, as it is a well known fact that children naturally gravitate to the rude, the earthy and the forbidden, and it is almost an unwritten law of books that children will rush to identify and find the rudest bits first. Making it into a classroom task is simply harnessing their natural talent, whilst at the same time teaching the children about their rich, linguistic heritage, and providing a hook by which to draw them into the rest of Shakespeare’s world.
There is a link here to a marvellous online resource which can help you plan such a lesson, or, just give you something very cool to play with if you don’t want to plan a lesson on Shakespearean insults.
It’s the Shakespearean Insult Generator which has been devised as a prop by the RSC for their online and real time project A Midsummer Night’s Dreaming, which will run over the Midsummer weekend 2013.
A word of warning. Shakespearean insults are huge amounts of fun, rich and pithy and ripe with wonderful words that are perfect to children to get their teeth into. Some of them are also quite unsuitable, and therefore I would advise that if you are going to use this kind of resource with younger children, you come up with a version of your own where you have judiciously edited out some of the meatier phrases.