6 Creative Ideas for Teaching Romeo and Juliet

One of my favorite units to teach is Romeo & Juliet - it's an easy introduction to Shakespeare for my 10th graders and it's so much fun to tease out the absurdity of it all. Really... who meets and decides to get married almost immediately?  My students lose their minds over their ages, their rush and their mis-steps.
When I tell my students that we are going to study the play, I am usually met with a series of loud groans, disgruntled sighs and complaints of "but I hate love stories and mushy stuff...".  My students seem to have a preconceived idea that it's a mushy love story and I love nothing more than to dispel their ideas.

1.  Provoke Discussion & Debate
One of the first activities I do is a Pre-Reading Graphic Organizer which is sure to get your students debating some of the topics and themes that come up in the play.  The questions on the organizer are thought-provoking and generate some fantastic discussions with my students.  I have students work on it individually and then discuss in small groups before sharing with the whole class.  The questions also start to hint at some of the conflicts and challenges that the characters will face in the play.  Grab a FREE copy HERE!

2. Use Memes
I get a kick out of memes and there are some fantastic ones out there for Romeo & Juliet.  A quick Google search will yield many results - I print them out and put them up around my classroom.  I introduce the memes as they relate to parts of the play as we are reading - we discuss their meaning, why the meme is effective and then I add it to my collection on my wall. My students really got into it this year and started looking for them online too! Why not have students create their own?

3. Creative Analysis
I hated doing endless analysis questions as a student reading the play in my grade 10 year.  I remember pages of questions for each scene in each act... and it made me hate reading Shakespeare.
As a teacher I am very away aware of this memory and needed to come up with a way for students to respond to the text, demonstrate their understanding and be able to provide some creativity.  My Romeo & Juliet - Graphic Organizers for ANY Act / Scene allow students to work in pairs, small groups or individually to respond to the text.  I don't use them for every scene but a few used for key scenes or moments in the play can be a helpful way to track student learning and student understanding. Using these organizers allows students to demonstrate their understanding multiple ways - by doodling, adding quotes, finding figurative language, looking at character traits and more!

4. Summarize Each Act
I ask my students to summarize or comment on each act on a large sticky note and we add it to a growing wall display.  I make each act a different type of summary - here's what I did with this year's students.  I made a header for each Act to post around the room with our sticky notes.
      Act 1 - Four Sentence Summary
      Act 2 - Five Hashtag Summary
      Act 3 - Character Obituary
      Act 4 - A tweet from Romeo and one from Juliet
      Act 5 - Two Newspaper Headlines

I post these around the room and my students love to read what others have written.  It's a fun visual reminder of our progress through the play as well.

Other ideas for scene or act summaries include having students "Tweet" three comments about a scene, create an Instagram post of a key event in an act or scene or to send out a "Snap" via a "Snapchat" template.   A quick search online will yield blank templates for social media platforms that can be used as exit slips, summaries and more!

5. Avoid Character Confusion
Keeping track of characters can be tricky for some students and I like to have a visual reminder on the wall of who everyone is and how they connect to each other.  I use a set of Romeo & Juliet Character Cards which color coded to help students differentiate between the Montagues, the Capulets and neutral characters.  I post large ones (word wall size) on one of my whiteboards so that we can add details like connections, character traits, and events are we're reading.  The kids love it when I add a gravestone to a character after the character's death!  I also use small sized character cards so that students can complete a character map (usually in a group). I give students chart paper, glue, felt pens and the character cards and let them figure out how they think all the characters should be organized.  It's a fun and hands on way for students to talk about connections, relationships, character traits and more!
6. Have fun - laugh -giggle!
I really try to have fun with it all - it's hard to take it all so seriously and I find if I have fun with it so do my students!  Act it out! Do a tableau! Wear costumes! Draw comic strips, send character text messages, take on roles and interview characters on a podcast, watch different versions of the movie, create their own movies of famous scenes... the point is to get up and out of their seats and get involved in the words, themes, ideas and fun of studying Shakespeare!

Click HERE to check out all of my resources for Romeo & Juliet!

My fellow Coffee Shop ladies are also fans of Romeo and Juliet and I was able to incorporate some of their resources into my lessons!

This was my students' first experience reading Shakespeare so Room 213's Introduction to Shakespeare Stations were a fantastic way to start off my unit!

I loved using Stacy's Lloyd's Romeo and Juliet Workbook - I picked the pages that worked best with my students and mixed and matched them with my own resources.

If your kids like Escape Rooms, be sure to check out Nouvelle ELA's Romeo and Juliet Escape Room - it was a huge hit and the perfect way to wrap up the novel.

The Daring English Teacher - Romeo & Juliet CLOZE summary passages
Presto Plans - Romeo & Juliet Unit Plan
Tracee Orman - Romeo & Juliet Coloring Pages

For more ideas and inspiration check out this previous Coffee Shop Blog post from Tracee Orman where she shares some general ideas for teaching Shakespeare.

Back to Top