Teaching English

Issue 1 pp.48-49

Here you'll find the Teachit page from NATE's Teaching English magazine and the resource to print, download or adapt to suit you. It's all you could ask for really (oh, and then there's the teaching part, of course). To open the resource simply click on your chosen file type, or the resource name for more information.

"It's ideal for introducing characters or consolidating existing knowledge."

Lucy Hewitt uses masks to get into Shakespeare’s characters.

In order for students to gain a good understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare, they need to get to grips with character (among other things!). But with some tricky language and lots of different people bustling in and out of scenes, this can be difficult and confusing.

This simple masks resource is versatile enough to be used across all key stages and open enough to work in conjunction with any Shakespeare play. It’s ideal for introducing students to key characters, consolidating existing knowledge, or for revision purposes. It’s also perfect for adding the wow factor to a wall-display and for helping students get into role before acting out key lines or scenes. The cut and stick aspect appeals to most students and should give rise to any number of creative interpretations.

Five things you might like to try …


Give students a double-sided version of the template. Then get them to show a) how a character changes throughout the play, or b) to demonstrate two-sidedness in any character. Iago, for example, is perfect for the two-sided treatment, as is Macbeth. This approach is harder than it first seems and requires students to focus on specific sections of text and the different ways an actor might interpret certain lines.


Use words instead of craft materials. If your students mutter or groan at the idea of sticking spaghetti onto their mask or getting out the glitter, give them the option of completing a simple word associations mask. They could jot down appropriate adjectives or find quotations and key words from the text which show

something about their character’s personality. Alternatively take students to the computer room and give them access to a digital version of the mask. Ask them to find appropriate images, colours or font styles and use these to decorate their templates.


Take it (even!) further. Once students have got their crafting hats on, ask them to recreate a key scene using Lego or Playmobil figures. Alternatively get them to create stick figures, hand or animal puppets and have these take on the leading roles.


Get students into groups and ask them to put on their masks and create tableaux of key moments in the play. (Note, to do this task you’ll need to ensure that students have created masks for a range of different characters as opposed to just one or two.) The rest of the class should then try to guess which moments or events are being shown. Alternatively (if feeling adventurous or keen to have a record of the work), you could photograph the tableaux, project the images and then have the rest of the class try to guess the moments being portrayed.


The musical approach. Once students have completed their masks, either get them to invent five song titles which in some way represent their character and his/her role in the play or to choose five actual song titles to convey suitable emotions or sentiments about a character. Students really enjoy creating their own Shakespearean greatest hits.

Two mask outlines all ready for decorating. Great for creative  … read more
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KS3 KS4 KS5 | Teaching tools | Published: 01/04/2011 | From the resource collection(s): Resource templates and featured in our teaching pack(s) 6 week teaching pack - 'The Tempest'
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Two photocopiable packs of English cover lessons


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