Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teach a Play

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Teaching Hamlet

Resources from Folger Education

This page contains resources for teaching Hamlet, a favorite play among readers, actors, and theater audiences, as well as one of Shakespeare's most puzzling. Below you'll find links to resources from Folger Education that include Hamlet teaching modules, related tools, a student-produced graphic novel inspired by the play, and more.

Teaching Modules

Folger Education offers teaching modules on Shakespeare's frequently taught plays, as well as modules on introducing Shakespeare. Try the modules below, or, for more modules for Hamlet, visit the Teaching Modules Archive.

"Touching this vision: Imagery in Hamlet”

In this module, students identify the major symbols, images, and themes of the play.

"Enter Ophelia: Stage Directions, Promptbooks, and Film"
In this module, you'll cover NCTE standards 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8. Using a historic actor's promptbook as well as film adaptions of Ophelia's mad scenes, students explore connections between movement, staging, and interpretation.


Pantomime Pre-Reading for Hamlet

Designed with ESL/ELL students in mind, but adaptable for any classroom, this pre-reading activity for Hamlet familiarizes students with the action in the first act of the play. The lesson also encourages reading aloud and pantomime performance of the action to deepen understanding of the text.

Audio and Video Resources

With the Folger's video Insider's Guide, you get discussion topics, points of interest, and a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's most famous play.

Hamlet: Insider's Guide


The Folger exhibition Now Thrive the Armorers: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare focused on how real-world military changes influenced many of Shakespeare’s plays, including Hamlet.

Arms and Armor Podcast

Teaching Tools

The Folger edition of Hamlet includes facing-page notes and illustrations throughout the play, fascinating essays on the play, Shakespeare's life, theater, and times, and notes on unfamiliar language, or words that meant something different in Shakespeare's day. Request a desk copy of this edition from Simon & Schuster


Curriculum Guides lay out everything you need to teach this play for the first time: an introduction to the play, character connections, synopsis, teaching modules, suggested scenes for performance, fun facts, and familiar quotes.

Shakespeare Set Free , a groundbreaking curriculum on performance-based teaching, includes a unit on teaching Hamlet.


Other Resources

Seeing Shakespeare performed, or performing Shakespeare, can help students feel confident reading and understanding Shakespeare's language. To see performance-based education strategies for your classroom, check out our clips on YouTube here.


Colorful Character Connections offer an at-a-glance map of character relationships, an introduction to the plot, and important quotes to look and listen for.


Archived study guides from past Folger Theatre performances provide activities and discussion questions for students to consider before seeing a performance or as they rehearse scenes from this play.


For many students today, reading Shakespeare's language can be a challenge. Things to pay attention to in Hamlet:

  • unfamiliar words or words whose meanings have changes
  • unfamiliar word order
  • wordplay
In Hamlet Shakespeare occasionally uses unfamiliar words or words that have changed in their meaning since the play was written. These are explained in notes in the Folger Edition of the text. Shakespeare also uses language to create a past history in the opening scenes of the play through references to "the Dane," "buried Denmark," Elsinore, and other "local" worlds and references.

Shakespeare often uses sentence structures that separate words that normally appear together. This is often done to create a particular speech rhythm, or emphasize a certain word. For example, Horatio separates subject and verb when he says “When he the ambitious Norway combated" (1.1.72).

Puns and metaphors are used throughout Hamlet; Hamlet himself uses puns to express complex ideas, or when he is beyond normal expression. In addition, in the exchange between Polonius and Ophelia in scene 3, much of the dialogue is based on puns.

Seeing Shakespeare performed, or performing Shakespeare, can help alleviate these difficulties. To see performance-based education strategies for your classroom, check out our clips on YouTube here.

About the Play

Hamlet was printed in three different versions in first quarter of the 17th century. The first was published in 1603 in a quarto edition, and was called the Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmark by William Shake-speare. The second quarto, or "good quarto" appeared in 1604, although some copies are dated 1605. The third version is in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in 1623.

To learn more, explore our Discover Shakespeare online resource, including the sections highlighted at right.



The Tragedy of Hamlet, adapted by Charlotte Bush

How To

teaching in action

Is That Your Sandwich?

Living Iambic Pentameter

In The Shop

Kill Shakespeare
Graphic Comic

Folger Editions
Trade Paperback

The Manga Edition

Shakespeare Set Free Series

Learn More

Discover Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Life

Shakespeare's Theater

Shakespeare's Works

Read the Play

Folger Digital Texts:

Related Items

Study Guide

Curriculum Guide

You might also like ...

Hamlet Works
Resources for Scholars, Teachers, Students, Artists & Fans


Hamlet: Insider's Guide

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623