William Shakespeare / During Reading / /

Circle of Life

Reading about Shakespeare’s childhood and recording key aspects of his life.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from William Shakespeare series

Required reading: Pages 1-8

Text potential

  • Inference opportunities: Character Inference
  • Background knowledge: Childhood experiences
  • Wider learning opportunities: History:Elizabethan England

Strategies used

  • Graphic Organisers


Shakespeare lived hundreds of years ago, and this distance could make it difficult for young readers to connect with him and therefore provide a barrier to comprehension. Exploring different areas of a person’s life supports understanding of the way they behave and their motivations. Readers can then make connections between their own lives and that of a person, which builds empathy.


  • Divide a large sheet of paper into quadrants with a circle in the middle. The sections should be labelled: Home, Family, Play and Day. Write the name Shakespeare in the central circle.  
  • Copies of Shakespeare, at least one per pair. 


Distribute copies of Shakespeare to pairs. Explain that you would like the pairs to read to the end of page 8. They can read together or take turns to read sections to each other. 

Introduce the Circle of Life. Organise the class into groups of no more than four children. They should work together to fill in the four sections with notes that provide information about that heading. Clarify what information is needed by asking:

  • Where does Shakespeare live and who does he live with? (Home)
  • Who else is in Shakespeare’s family? (Family)
  • How does Shakespeare spend his time? (Play)
  • What does Shakespeare do during the day? (Day)

Provide two different colours for the grids to be filled in – one colour for the information that is definitely true and another that probably happened. 

Introduce the key vocabulary for judging whether something is true or not (truth, likely, probable, possible, unlikely, untrue).

Once the group has filled in their grid, give them time to walk around and look at the grids completed by other groups. 

Final reflection

Encourage the children to make connections between their lives and the life of Shakespeare as a child by asking: 

  • Are there any similarities between your life and Shakespeare’s?
  • What are the biggest differences? 
  • What would you have liked about being a child at that time?

Key vocabulary

truth, likely, probable, possible, unlikely, untrue


Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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