Macbeth Micro Theme

Following on from our Armada Tudor theme, for the 3 weeks preceding Christmas we switched our attention to Macbeth. Our Literacy focus was Year 4 Plays with lots of speaking & listening, performance and development of adverbs (through stage directions).

The main resource that was used to support the unit was the outstanding Classic Comics ‘quick text’ version which I originally discovered from Olliebray. This was extended for higher achieving pupils by using the plain text version. Quite simply the boys went WILD for it. Especially when we used a digital copy on the interactive whiteboard. I’m not even generalising — every single one of them were gagging for Shakespeare, what a great resource!

I chose Macbeth as our play in particular as, in addition to the gore and murder, it had the extremely strong female lead of Lady Macbeth. The girls (now I am generalising) enjoyed her manipulative characteristics. I obviously wasn’t pushing this ‘skill’ however it certainly grounded the bravado of the boys when they realised that Lady Macbeth was the real brains behind the operation.

The main ICT involvement was at the start of the theme, using Voicethread (for the first time) to support Talk for Writing-y retellings of the story. This gave the children the context and depth of understanding to develop their own parallel versions of Macbeth as well as turning the comic into a play and create some 1st person stories (pushing the higher achievers by focusing on a different character to Macbeth).

A couple of days before the Christmas break we had a ‘Tudor Celebration Day’ with children dressed as Tudors or Macbeth characters. They performed some of their retellings and their versions of the play (helped by @chrisleach78 who kindly sent me an appropriate version for the children’s age which we then adapted for our use). We ended our day with a feast including blancmange and butter beer. Without the beer. Or butter.

Macbeth Play Scene 1 and 2

I would love to have spent longer on the theme as it had a lot of potential and the children and parents had a lot of enthusiasm for it. I was a little apprehensive before tackling Shakespeare with eight year olds as I wasn’t sure if it would be accessible but the comic really made it work and brought the whole world to life.

Originally published at on December 19, 2009.