I know this activity has been done in many a classroom and children’s theater group, but I think it deserves some more recognition.
There is plenty of research to support how beneficial hands-on activities can be for children’s learning. Kids are so tactile and exploratory by nature that these types of activities can help the lessons to truly sink in. There is so much more to learning that sitting at a desk, so getting the kids up and moving will allow them to actually enjoy learning more complex material.
This activity is pretty simple. Most people know that Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, which has a really distinct rhythm. Kids pick up on patterns and rhythms so well that poetry is almost instinctual to them.
First, introduce the rhythm without sound: du-DUN, du-DUN, du-DUN, du-DUN, du-DUN.
Have the kids clap along with you.
Once they have mastered that, introduce a speech from whatever play you are studying:
Beatrice: What fire is in mine ear? can this be true?
Stand I condemed for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell, and maiden pride, adieu
No glory lives on the back of such.
And keep clapping!
Doing this can help kids to understand the rhythm of the poetry, how words are meant to be said, and even what is being emphasized in a given line.
Iambic pentameter is the very beginning of learning Shakespeare, so embrace it, learn it, and understand it!