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Little Shakes: Macbeth Activities

With Kate Cordaro


Kate Cordaro

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Playing with Rhythm

Appropriate for: Grades 4-12
Appropriate for: Advisory, English, Humanities, Drama
Materials Needed: Copy of the witches’ rhyme


  • Shakespeare wrote much of his dialogue in iambic pentameter – 10 syllables per line, following a specific rhythm: daDUMdaDUMdaDUMdaDUMdaDUM. The rhythm matches a heartbeat.
  • Clap out or beat this rhythm on your desk.

Try to clap/beat alone to some of these famous lines from Shakespeare:

  • Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
  • But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
  • To me, fair friend, you never can be old.
  • And I do love thee, therefore go with me.
  • If music be the food of love, play on.


The Witches’ Rhyme
Read the rhyme out loud:

  • What’s different about this rhythm?

Turn this rhyme into a performance.

  • Who speaks when – do they all speak together, or divide up the lines?
  • What rhythm to use
  • What movement to add.

Share Out (optional)

  • Share your performance with us!

The Witches’ Rhyme

The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! The charm’s wound up.

Quotes Out of Context

Appropriate for: Grades 4-12
Appropriate for: English, Humanities, Drama, Elementary*
Materials Needed: Printed quotes


Shakespeare language is poetic. He uses expressive language – including metaphor and rhyme – to paint a picture in our minds. We’re going to look at a few quotes from Macbeth and try to figure out what they might mean – both in general, and as a clue to what’s going to happen in the play.


Review the quotes

  • What do you think this means?
  • What kind of character might say this? When might they say it?
  • What clues does this quote give you as to what kind of play this will be?
  • Do any of these quotes seem to go together?
  • Are there any common themes?


  • Create a still image to represent your quote, in part or in its entirety.

* For Elementary:

  • Use the dictionary for unfamiliar words/be prepared to define advanced vocabulary.
  • Consider having the quotes handy when you watch the show so you can listen for them.


When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Stars, hide your fires
Let not light see my
black and deep desires.

If you can look into the seeds of time
And say which grains will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me.

Yet do I fear thy nature
Is too full of the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.

I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares do more is none.

Screw your courage
to the sticking place,
And we’ll not fail.

False face must hide
what the false heart doth know.

My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white.

Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hands?

A little water clears us of this deed.

Where we are there’s
daggers in men’s smiles.

O, full of scorpions is my mind!

Blood will have blood.

Be this the whetstone of your sword – let grief convert to anger.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Post-Show Discussion Prompts

The play opens with the three witches. What impact does this introduction have on the audience? What does it make you think and expect?

Is there a ‘villain’ in this play? Who do you think it is? Why?

How does Macbeth change over the course of the play? Why do you think he changes?

What do you think of the scene where Macbeth sees a dagger floating before him?

Do you think Banquo’s Ghost was really at Macbeth’s dinner party, or was he imagining it?

It has been said that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Do you think power corrupted Macbeth? Or was he already corrupt?

Do you think Macbeth is evil? Do you think Lady Macbeth is evil? Why or why not?

How much do you think hearing his future impacted Macbeth’s choices?

Do you think Macduff will be a better leader than Macbeth? Why or why not?

Do you think Macbeth believes in destiny? How much of his belief do you think impacted the course of the play?