Four hundred years ago Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon. He left behind a legacy of 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two epic narrative poems. Since then, people all around the world have embraced his work, through books, plays, films and creative projects. We even use his phrases in everyday language, feeling ‘faint hearted’ (Henry VI, Part I), ‘dead as a doornail’ (Henry VI, Part II), or ‘fancy free’ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Shakespeare has given us wonderful insults, like ‘loathsome as a toad’ (Troilus and Cressida), and powerful descriptions of love, like ‘it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests, and is never shaken’ (Sonnet 116). In almost any situation, you could find a Shakespearean line to express how you feel.
Young people often find Shakespeare difficult to engage with – it’s a little like learning a foreign language! Seeing his plays live or as films can be a great starting point. But decoding Shakespeare’s sonnets is a bit harder, since they’re not often performed or produced. At Curved House Kids, we like to take a hands-on approach to making literature accessible, so we’ve developed a suite of ‘Write your own sonnet’ worksheets for students in Key Stage 3-4.
Our worksheets explain what a sonnet is and how it’s structured. They provide a simple template so that young poets can plan their rhyming scheme easily, without getting lost on the way. Each template includes a visual prompt to kickstart the imagination. These prompts will help unlock creativity, providing inspiration for the ‘story’ the sonnet will tell and the vocabulary poets might use to tell it. The prompts on each of our templates have different moods and styles, so your poets can choose one which appeals to them, or challenge themselves by writing several poems.
Download our worksheets by clicking in the image below and get your aspiring poets scribbling. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your work or use the hashtag #CHKshakes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!
If you want to explore Shakespeare’s works in other ways, check out Shakespeare400. This year-long programme coordinated by King’s College London includes performances, exhibitions and creative activities for all age groups. Visit the Sheakespeare400 website for programme details.
We wait with ‘bated breath’ (The Merchant of Venice) to read your sonnets!