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Pantomime Pre-reading for Hamlet

Teachers' Rating:
  18 ratings

May 2010
Christina Porter is an English teacher and Literacy Coach  at Revere High School, Revere, MA.

Plays/Scenes Covered

This is a pre-reading activity for the first act of Hamlet.

What's On for Today and Why

This pantomime activity, like all pre-reading activities, is designed to familiarize students with a text, activate prior knowledge, and create initial interest in a text. For this activity, small groups of students have to pantomime (that is, act out with actions but no sound) an important event from the first act of the play for their class. As they act, a narrator reads the events on a card out loud to the class. At the conclusion of the activity, all members of the class should be familiar with the major events in the first act of Hamlet. In addition to familiarizing students with the plot, this activity also gives students the opportunity to practice performing in front of their classmates.


What You Need

Folger edition of Hamlet
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts


Pantomime Pre-reading Activity Cards

Pantomime Pre-reading Activity Cards
What To Do

1. Divide students into small groups.


2. Give each group a Pantomime Pre-reading card.


3. Select one student in each group to be the narrator. This student will read aloud the events on the card as the rest of the students create a pantomime of the events (actions without words or sounds).Ensure that the narrator reads SLOWLY to allow the actors sufficient time to present their pantomime.


4. Allow each group time to practice.


5. Have each group perform their pantomime in the correct sequence.


6. After all the performances, have students write down what they saw.


7. Possible follow-up: Give students a typed summary of the first act of Hamlet for them to read and keep in their notebooks.

How Did It Go?
Did students collaborate to create their pantomime as a group? Did they choose appropriate actions to convey the events on their card? Were they able to recall the major events of the first act of Hamlet based on their performances?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

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