Romeo and Juliet Project Ideas for Teachers

Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson will highlight Romeo and Juliet project ideas for teachers in language arts classrooms as they engage students in the reading of the play. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge.

A Look at Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet may arguably be one of William Shakespeare's most popular works. Like many of his plays, Shakespeare based the sad tale of two star-crossed lovers on the Greek tragedies. However, many students may find the Shakespearean dialogue or the overall meaning of the play to be a bit difficult to understand. If you are covering this popular tragedy with your students, you may want to come up with some ideas that will allow your students to remain engaged in their learning and increase their comprehension at the same time.

Create a Rubric

Before you begin any project with your students, you may want to create a rubric, which lets your students know exactly what it is you are looking for in their assignments. A rubric shows students how they will be graded based on what they accomplish. For example, a student may earn 5 full points on a 5-point scale if he draws and colors a picture of the two main characters or earn only 2 points because he drew the picture but did not color it. Your rubric should tell your students what you want them to include in their project and how many points each included item is worth.

Project Ideas

1. Have students recreate scenes from the play. Your students can have a lot of fun with this activity, especially if they are able to add a few props in order to bring the scenes to life. You may even encourage your students to dress up in outfits that represent the time period of the play. You can have them do some research regarding clothing from the era or have them browse the internet for pictures of how things looked during this period. If you allow your students to design and incorporate props and costumes into the project, be sure to give them enough time to research and work on the assignment in class.

2. Create a comic strip. Students can choose important scenes from the play to create a Romeo and Juliet comic strip based on the characters, scenes and plots of the play. For example, you may have your students choose six major scenes from the play. They will need plain white paper that they will use to drawn six even squares. In each square, students will draw a scene and summarize why the scene was important to the overall plot of the play.

For example, the scene in which Romeo and Juliet are married is definitely important because it not only links the two feuding families, but it also sets the course of action that ultimately leads to the story's tragic end. Students would draw a picture of the wedding scene, and then summarize what has taken place at that moment in the play. Drawing and summarizing gives you, as the teacher, an opportunity to figure out whether your students comprehend what they are reading.

3. Give the play a modern flare. Students may identify better with the play if they analyze it from a modern perspective, maybe even making it personal by having them create skits about how they would react if their parents did not like someone that they were dating. A skit would allow students to spend less time on costumes and props and focus primarily on the main elements of the story (e.g., character development, plot and setting).

4. Change the cultural identity of the characters. In an effort to differentiate or diversify instruction, you could completely change the cultural point of view of this Shakespearean tale. What if Romeo was of Spanish origin and Juliet was of Asian descent? Your students can spend class time discussing some of the conflicts that may arise from two families who were culturally different.

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