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 Midsummer, visit the Teaching Modules Archive.
"I Will Hear That Play"
In this lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 11. The lesson works well as a final project on A Midsummer Night's Dream as students consider how sound can influence a scene's meaning.
"Pyramus and Thisbe"
In the lesson plan, you'll cover NCTE standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Using the tale of lovers Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid, students develop their own staging of the scene. This also works well as a bridge to other plays, such as Romeo and Juliet.
The Folger edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream includes facing-page notes and illustrations throughout the play; background information on the play, Shakespeare's life, theater, and times; notes on unfamiliar language, or words that meant something different in Shakespeare's day; and a scholarly assessment of the play in light of today's interests and concerns.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 Midsummer.
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.
Audio and Video Resources
Bill's Buddies, Folger Education's performance troupe, demonstrates performance-based teaching strategies in a series of short videos. Click on the links on the right to watch individual videos.
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.
For many students today, reading Shakespeare's language can be a challenge. Things to pay attention to in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Some of Shakespeare's words are no longer used. For example, in the opening scenes, you'll find "mewed" (caged), "beteem" (grant, give), and "collied" (coal black). Words whose meanings have changed might be more problematic, such as "blood" used to mean "passion or feelings," and "well possessed" when we might say "wealthy." Both kinds of words are explained in notes in the Folger Editions.
- unfamiliar words or words whose meanings have changed
- unfamiliar word order
Shakespeare uses language to build three dramatic spaces within the play: the classical Athens of Theseus and Hippolyta; the world of the workingmen; and finally, Fairyland ruled by Oberon and Titania. Ask your students to be attentive to how language shifts in each of these worlds.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare often uses sentence structures that separate words that normally appear together, most often the subject and verb. This is often done to create a particular speech rhythm, or emphasize a certain word. Occasionally, words are ommitted to create iambic pentameter lines. Puns and wordplay are infrequently used in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
About the Play
A Midsummer Night's Dream was first printed as a quarto in 1600. In 1619, a slightly edited second quarto appeared. This second quarto was used as the printer's copy for the First Folio text of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in 1623.
To learn more, explore our Discover Shakespeare online resource, including the sections highlighted at right.