William Shakespeare / Before Reading / /

Elizabethan England

An introduction to the times Shakespeare lived in.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from William Shakespeare series

Text potential

  • Historical, Social and Cultural Context: Elizabethan England

Strategies used

  • Graphic Organisers
  • Background Knowledge


Comprehension is built upon existing knowledge. A  lack of background knowledge and experience can inhibit understanding. If a subject is unfamiliar, building background knowledge before reading will increase understanding and help to minimise miscomprehension. This lesson provides background knowledge about Elizabethan England and the context for the time in which Shakespeare lived.


  • Download the Elizabethan England slideshow.
  • Copies of Circle Map, one per pair. 


Share the title page of the slideshow and ask:

  • Do you recognise this person? 

Distribute copies of the Circle Map resource to pairs. Ask the children to write ‘Elizabethan England’ in the centre and record anything they already know about this period in English history. 

Gather ideas before sharing the slideshow. The slideshow contains images of some of the features of the age which are particularly pertinent to the book and definitions of some of the words found near the beginning. 

Final reflection


  • Is there anything you would like to find out about this time in history? 
  • Is there anything you would like to add to the frame of Circle Map?

Key vocabulary

Protestant, Catholic, Renaissance, Elizabethan, architecture

Additional vocabulary



Elizabethan England slideshow

The Elizabethan Age

Circle Map

Circle Thinking Map


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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