I’ve been doing a lot of blog posts for writers lately and neglecting my English teacher friends out there in Cyberspace. So today’s blog post is just a quick idea that I used, with great success, while teaching Shakespeare’s Othello.
First, I had students read aloud, taking parts in the play, in the traditional way. Then I offered an “intermission” game to keep students from getting bored. At the end of class, after the “intermission” was over, we went back to reading, if time allowed.
For our first intermission game, students had to design a stage on a piece of over-sized paper. Students drew and colored their stage, and they were allowed to have curtains and a few simple props like a table and chairs or archways in the background.
For the next day’s intermission, I had the students cut out paper dolls that were wearing Renaissance “underwear,” and they had to design, cut out, and glue costumes to fit these paper dolls. I had to give the kids construction paper for the costumes, and I provided everyone with scissors and glue.
The third day’s intermission was a chance for students to paste their paper dolls on the stage for specific scenes from Othello.
Now I teach sophomores, and at first, I worried the students would think this project was ridiculous and childlike. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a lot of fun for them. In fact, one class didn’t get to finish their intermission project due to time constraints, and they were pretty upset about it!
So even if you teach high school students, it’s worth giving this activity a shot. If nothing else, the paper doll project will help them envision the stage as they read the play, and that’s a good thing.
To find some awesome renaissance paper dolls on the Internet, google an artist named Tom Tierney. He has paper dolls in Renaissance attire, pilgrim paper dolls, and ethnic paper dolls.