Folger Shakespeare Library

Teacher's resource digs deep into the Bard's work

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 13 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

English Language Arts, Social Studies

Price: Free
Platforms: Web

Pros: Teacher resources abound and include lessons, videos, blogs, primary source images, and annotated scripts.

Cons: The site's search can be confusing, and more student-focused web content would be nice.

Bottom Line: As an educator resource, teachers can deepen their understanding and appreciation of both classic and lesser-known works; the activities and multimedia can help students engage with the texts.

"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks." It is the Folger Shakespeare Library's website, and teachers of the Bard can rejoice at its wealth of resources. Drama teachers can search and find scripts and tips for putting on productions. English teachers will discover units and activities on interpretations and analyses, and history teachers will find fascinating primary resources that range from a portrait of Shakespeare to images of 16th-century spell books, or grimoires.

The Elementary Shakespeare page links to videos of teachers using activity modules in the classroom. In the "Occupation Romeo" clip, kids are asked to read texts while pretending they have different occupations; options include a wrestler, pirate, or runway model. The Teaching Sonnets unit could be used for two or three weeks' worth of curriculum. If you're looking for deeper learning experiences -- and you're willing to raise the funds -- you could sign up for some of the festivals and workshops held in Washington, D.C. -- the website's resources can help you prepare.

Folger Shakespeare Library supports and extends the educational mission of the world-renowned research, conservation, education, and performance center in Washington, D.C. In addition to information about conferences, teaching institutes, workshops, publications, and local productions, the site also offers resources immediately available to anyone online. The Just for Kids and Shakespeare for Kids sections start with cool facts, coloring pages, a character guessing game, Shakespeare challenges, and videos of kids talking about performing. Deeper in, kids can upload poems or browse brief textual activities based on historical documents, artifacts, and portraits from the Folger collection.

Teaching resources include 265 lessons or modules (some aligned with Common Core standards), plus an archive of about 600 more, focusing on thespian approaches, historical perspectives, modern lenses, and classic text analyses. Sixteen plays get a deeper treatment in the Teach a Play section, which includes curriculum guides, teaching tools, study guides, and audiovisual resources. Teachers can subscribe to the "BardNotes" newsletter, check out the "Making a Scene" blog, research primary sources, order publications, or watch podcasts on the FolgerLibrary channel YouTube channel. Authoritative digital texts, with Creative Commons licenses, can be downloaded.

Folger Shakespeare Library delivers myriad teacher-oriented resources and a few that are accessible to younger students. Teachers from elementary to high school will be able to put teaching ideas, primary historical sources, and downloadable annotated scripts to work. Since the site's complicated structure might be too much for younger students to navigate on their own, teachers will likely need to provide direct links for directed activities. The only things missing are a tighter presentation of the nearly endless resources, more direct and top-level activities for kids of all ages, and a quote finder. Folger Shakespeare Library delivers historical and practical teaching resources with authority.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

As a teacher's resource, the site itself isn't likely to be very engaging for students. However, teachers should note that many of the materials, lessons, and videos can translate well to engaging lessons in class.


Activities bring real world and historical knowledge to bear on the interpretation of classic texts. A number of the site's lessons are aligned with Common Core standards.


One of the site's main goals is to support teachers. However, the abundance of resources can be complicated to navigate. There's a small selection to support the teaching of ELL's and younger students.

Community Rating

A gift for anyone teaching Shakespeare

This is a hard tool to rate using the parameters above. It is for teachers and almost functions like professional development by giving ideas for improving pedagogy around Shakespeare. Modules are great, particularly for teachers who have not worked with Shakespeare before. They help make the work more accessible to students. Ideas are curated by Folger staff to ensure good quality.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
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Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Unclear whether users can create or upload content.
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