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Shakespeare Sound Out: Building Atmosphere 

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  1 rating

Francesco Zuccarelli. Macbeth Meeting the Witches. Oil on panel, 1760

February 2012

Lucretia M. Anderson

Elementary School Program Coordinator

Folger Shakespeare Library


Plays/Scenes Covered

Macbeth, 4.1

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2.2


Common Core Standards addressed:

  Grades 4-5

   Reading Standards for Literature

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7 and 9

   Speaking and Listening

    Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 4 and 5

 Grade 6

   Reading Standards for Literature

    Craft and Structure: 5

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:7 and 9

    Key Ideas and Details: 3

   Language Standards

     Knowledge of Language: 6


See link to Common Core Standards below

What's On for Today and Why

Based on the language and environment created with words in song and rhyme, students will determine the type of mood that is being set within scenes from Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Students will collaborate to give a choral performance enhanced with a soundscape.  Students will then compare and contrast the mood created by the songs and sounds. They will analyze the song/rhyme's purpose in enhancing the scene and the play.


This lesson should take one class session.

What You Need

Folger edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Macbeth, 4.1 handout
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2.2 handout
Found objects to make sound effects (ex. paper, rattle, metal trashcan, cardboard box,etc.)

Macbeth 4.1
Midsummer 2.2
Common Core Standards
What To Do
  1. Distribute copies of the edited Macbeth 4.1 and Midsummer 2.2 and conduct a read through with students.
  2. Discuss similarities and differences in rhythm and word choice of the songs/rhymes. Have students circle or list similarities and differences. Have students list adjectives to describe the moods of each song/rhyme.
  3. Divide the students into four groups.
  4.   Have Group 1  work together to rehearse a choral reading of Macbeth 4.1. Students should divide up the lines and may turn it into a song or chant with movement.
  5. Make Group 2 responsible for creating the soundscape for the Macbeth choral reading using their voices or physical objects that could make the appropriate sounds. Students should mark places in the script where sound is interjected.
  6. Give Group 3 the Midsummer 2.2 song to rehearse in the same manner.
  7. Give Group 4 the responsibility of creating the soundscape for the Midsummer song.
  8. Allow each group to work separately for several minutes.
  9. Combine Group 1 with Group 2, Group 3 with Group 4 to rehearse the timing of the background soundscape with the choral reading of the song or rhyme.
  10. Have groups 1 and 3 give their presentations without the soundscape. Then have them perform with their rehearsed soundscape.
  11. Review the list of adjectives. Discuss whether the sound effects related to the adjectives listed and were effective in conveying the mood of the song, rhyme and scene.

How Did It Go?

Could the students identify the purpose of placing the song/rhyme in the beginning of each scene? Did the students understand the role of the sound effects in enhancing the mood of the song/rhyme? Did the students demonstrate understanding of how the song/rhyme contributed to the development of the theme or plot of the play? If this is done as a pre-reading activity, were the students able to identify the differences and the similarities in the genre of the plays?


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

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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