Hamlet: Comics and Activities to Use While Reading the Play

Hamlet_ Comics and ActivitiesIs Hamlet Shakespeare’s greatest play? It’s certainly one of the most widely taught. It’s been a staple of high school English curriculum for years – I have my mother’s old annotated copy from when she was in high school (and her notes are very useful!) I had to read it eight times in college for various English classes. It’s a great play, mainly because of how it dives deep into the human experience and portrays a man dealing with difficult issues of responsibility and loyalty.

My students like Shakespeare even if they struggle with the language. For many of them, Shakespeare is something you should do in school, and they like the challenge. 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.

hamletactilowThe comic image above is from Hamlet: 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 a porcupine in the last panel. I also put some Danish things in as well, like a Troll doll, a Lego, and … well, a danish.

In addition, I have included a bunch of fun activities to do while reading the play that get students interacting with monologues, digging deep into the text, and examining the motivations of various characters. But why should I talk about it when I can let someone who purchased it do the talking?

“A++ resource! The comics provide an excellent preview or review of each act–one that students actually enjoy–and combined with the “How well do you know Act __” sheets, you have enough to begin your journey through the play. But wait… there’s more! For every act, there are multiple activities that add to your study of the play–all attractive (even a comic Shakespeare biography), all useful, and all organized by act–with answer keys provided when relevant. The comics themselves are worth their weight in GOLD, but this includes additional activities that address topics such as key allusions and even fun-but-scholarly activities such as creating an outfit for a Hamlet paper doll based on text. On the “What you should know” from Act I, there’s a small pic of Hamlet that asks students to draw him a hat. I thought nothing of it and said nothing about it, but my seniors pretty much all drew something that they wanted to show me–even a ghost hat. lol. I have a variety of Hamlet sources, but you really could teach the play with just this, so whether it’s your 1st or 50th outing with our indecisive tragic hero, this product will bring joy to the process. As you can tell, I’m super impressed!”

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. Plus, if you go to my store you’ll find a bunch of other Shakespeare resources. And if you’d like all of this stuff bundled together with the Hamlet stuff check out my Hamlet and Shakespeare Bundle for these and more bundled together. And 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! 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.

Learning should be fun! Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for fun resources like the ones you see below.


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