Can you feel it? That sinking feeling in your stomach. The butterflies that flutter there. The miasmic dread that descends and weighs you down as you look at your teacher planner to see that you have to teach Shakespeare next week.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We have a list of 5 awesome, free resources to teach Shakespeare. You’ll never have to fear Shakespeare again!

Before you check out the list . . .

You might want to head over to this blog post to check out my favorite way to introduce Shakespeare.

I love this strategy because it’s fun, easy, funny, gets students talking, and takes away the Shakespeare fear for students and teachers alike.

1. Teach Shakespeare using audiobooks

The first time I taught Shakespeare I made a rookie mistake. Want to know what it was?

I made my students read the Can you imagine? The classroom was hot, the air was stale, and my students’ eyes drooped while their bodies wilted like the grass outside.

The next time I taught Shakespeare, I learned my lesson. I alternated reading the play with listening to the audiobook.

Much better, for a whole bunch of reasons:

  • It made reading the play faster
  • Students got to hear how iambic pentameter actually sounds
  • It reduced boredom
  • Students were better able to follow and comprehend the play
  • It kept the ‘flow’ of the play going
  • Jokes are much funnier when a voice actor reads them than when a pubescent boy reads them in a dull monotone, clearly resenting time spent educating himself instead of watching TikTok stars on his phone

The headlining resource for this blog post is the Folger Library, which is currently offering FREE teaching resources due to COVID-19. It has one of the largest Shakespearean collections in the world.

The Folger Library provides resources to teach Shakespeare including:

  • Exhibitions
  • Lectures
  • Concerts
  • Podcasts
  • Workshops
  • Lesson plans
  • Webinars
  • Online field trips
  • Editions of Shakespeare’s plays (including digital editions)
  • Primary source documents

You can listen to their audiobooks for free here or pay for the audiobooks and download them. They have audiobooks for the following Shakespearean texts: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III.

They also have a recorded performance of Macbeth here, as well as a Spanish edition of Macbeth here. You can also download all of their editions to Shakespeare’s plays here.

2. Use CrashCourse to teach Shakespeare

CrashCourse has great videos (as you would already know if you’ve read my blog before). One thing I like in particular about CrashCourse videos is how accessible they make literary analysis of texts.

If you haven’t read any of my posts about CrashCourse and are curious to know more, check out:

  • this post about their digital research series
  • why the videos are a great way to introduce content-heavy topics in this post
  • this post about why they’re great for when you have nothing planned for class.

CrashCourse have videos on Shakespearean texts including:

CrashCourse worksheet bundle for all of the Shakespeare videos

However, they also have great introductory videos on Elizabethan theatre that are great for introducing Shakespeare to students who’ve never encountered him before.

And if you are wanting engaging, no-prep visual note-taking worksheets to pair with any of these videos, check out my TPT store.

CrashCourse Theater and Drama Shakespeare bundle

3. Teach Shakespeare using a video from Overly Sarcastic Productions

Animated male in blue animated female in red 'Overly Sarcastic Productions' text in background

Overly Sarcastic Products creates summarized versions of Shakespearean plays using excerpts from videos of the plays, cute cartoon characters, and voice-over.

The summaries are funny, irreverent, and quick to watch. They range from just over five minutes long to fifteen minutes.

This playlist has all of their videos, of which they cover the following Shakespearean plays:

  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Hamlet
  • Julius Caesar
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Macbeth
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Tempest
  • Twelfth Night
  • Othello
  • King Lear
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Taming of the Shrew
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Antony and Cleopatra

4. Teach Shakespeare using a video from Thug Notes

Man sitting in 'thinking man' post with text 'Thug Notes Get Lit

With the tag line “Classic Literature. Original Gangster” and hosted by “Sparky Sweets, PhD” (a.k.a. actor Greg Edwards), Thug Notes analyzes literature in a comedic manner using African American Vernacular English.

These videos are very funny, in language students understand, and just like Shakespeare’s plays, contain just the right amount of naughtiness.

But if you teach at a conservative school, be warned that these videos use swearing and vulgarity. And, as always, pre-view the videos before you show them.

Thug Notes has videos about the following plays:

5. Use a podcast to teach Shakespeare

The final free Shakespeare resources are podcasts.

The first podcast, The Play’s the Thing, is dedicated to all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Each play they’ve covered so far (11 at the time of writing) has a podcast for each act of the play, as well as one Q&A episode for the play.

The plays covered include:

  • Richard II
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Coriolanus
  • As You Like It
  • The Tempest
  • Othello
  • Macbeth
  • Julius Caesar
  • Henry V
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • King Lear

#SuchStuff is a podcast exploring Shakespeare’s impact on the world. The podcasts explore themes such as racism, gender, and social justice.

And at the time of writing, the accompanying Globe blog listed performances of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth that were either free on YouTube or available through a link after you fill in a form.

The Globe blog also has an online virtual tour of the Globe Theatre

Feel better about teaching Shakespeare now?

Hopefully, the butterflies in your belly, sinking stomach, and the miasma of dread when looking at your planner have disappeared or lifted.

Shakespeare doesn’t have to be scary, stressful, or boring. It can be fun, engaging, and stress-free.

And if you’re after a great way to get started, be sure to check out our Google Slides Shakespearean insult lesson for any play. Check out the blog post about how to use them here and the product on TPT here.

Other blog posts you may be interested in: