I don’t think there’s a more fun Shakespeare play to teach than Macbeth. It moves quickly (it’s one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays) and has it all: bloodshed, valor, all wrapped up in a play about what happens when the temptation to get what you want present itself. And it has witches! I also like that no matter how many times I read it, there’s always something new to discover. For instance, I just learned about the controversy about who the third murderer of Banquo might be. Lots of interesting theories there.
My students like Macbeth even if they struggle with the language. They rise to the challenge. For many of them Shakespeare is something you should do in school, so they don’t put up too much of a fuss. However, one area I always struggled with was how to introduce each act so that they had enough information to understand what was going on, yet not so much that reading the play became unnecessary. Also, I am always looking for something to make Shakespeare more accessible. So I made the following set of comics.
The comic image above is from Macbeth: Comic Summaries and Activities. The comics provide an overview of what happens in each act in a fun and humorous way that is inspired by a misspent youth reading MAD magazine, comics, and other irreverent publications.
They are a fun alternative to handing out summaries of the acts. For one thing, they don’t give too much away. Second, I have hidden Easter eggs throughout the panels of metaphors and images from each act (for instance, you’ll notice the “innocent flower” with the “serpent” underneath.)
The back side of these cartoons have activities centered around the work that will get kids interacting with the text in informative and creative ways. For example, there’s an activity that explores allusions with Robert Frost’s “Out, Out-.”
Of course, since this is the students’ first exposure to Shakespeare, you’ll need to introduce the bard and do a warm-up activity or two. I have a set of Shakespeare Bell Ringers that introduce students to the language of the bard. Or if you’d like the Macbeth comics and the Bell Ringers bundled with a bunch of other stuff, check out my Macbeth and Shakespeare Bundle for a whole bunch of goodies. Also, if you want a FREE comic that introduces Shakespeare and provides a little more background and an activity with a sonnet, click below and you’ll get it!
If you’d like even more fun things you can do with Shakespeare, you can find them in my Shakespeare activities bundle, which includes the Shakespeare biography, a lesson on iambic pentameter, and a lesson on Sonnet 18.
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