In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23rd have students create Shakespeare-like insults*, but with vocabulary words! This silly Shakespeare lesson plan will not only get students reviewing vocabulary words, but is designed to get students to feel more comfortable with Shakespeare's language.
What’s great is that this is a silly Shakespeare lesson plan designed to get students to feel more comfortable with Shakespeare’s language, but I have adapted it to also demonstrate to students how they too can coin phrases to make erudite, if vitriolic, points. This lesson really works with most age groups as students can quickly catch on to form and meaning, and use the words they have studied to create their insults.
I will note that I stressed with students that these were insults directed at no one in particular, and they were not to be used in any negative manner towards a peer (it also notes that on the downloadable).
To start, share with students some of your favorite Shakespeare insults. Check out one of the many websites devoted to generating Shakespearean insults. While sharing your favorite insults, discuss how Shakespeare formed many of his insults- either with the "adjective, adjective, noun" formation or with a more metaphorical turn of phrase. This will help students create their own insults!
Next, instruct students to go through their vocabulary books and compile a list of insulting vocabulary words. This part of the Shakespeare lesson plan can be done in groups, individually, or as a class.
Using these words, students can start to string together truly lovely phrases including “Thou scurrilous, callow hugger-mugger,” and “Thou motley, squalid turnip!”
For students who want more of a challenge can use use any vocabulary words-not just the ones that were originally negative-to come up with a great phrase. The results have been awesome, including ““thou art a bovine in visage!” and others.
Once complete, students can share their vocabulary insult with the class or teachers can hang them on a classroom bulletin board!
Check out some of the insults my students created:
-Thou corpulent, bovine abomination!
-Thou art crass in thy speech, bovine in thy thoughts, vitriolic in thy stench, and corpulent in thy body.
-Thou cadaverous, vapid devil-monk.
-Thou art nominal in speech, corpulent in stature, and crass in nature. With your megalomaniac ways, thou speakest scathing drivel, thereby debasing you to the level of a bovine.
-For fun-Your mother is so excessively corpulent, she sits next to everyone in the theatre.
In the end, my students had a great time crafting their phrases, and many students were quite proud of their end results-especially students who do not always find vocabulary rewarding.
I would love to hear some of your students’ best examples or how you might have modified this lesson-made them positive phrases rather than insults. Go forth and create (insults)!
*These insults are purely in fun and should not refer to any specific person or be used to bully another person or group.