Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets: A Literature Course

Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets

Literature has always been an integral part of our homeschool.

Since the very beginning, we’ve used literature rich curriculum across all subjects. If you’re a regular Home With Purpose reader, you may remember that when my oldest started high school, we realized that we needed to simplify her studies a bit. Between all the extracurricular activities she was doing and the demands of high school level science, math, and other needed subjects, she needed a lighter reading load. It was just too much, even for a bookworm like her. We moved from the extremely literature heavy history program we’d used for years to Notgrass.

This has been a great fit for her, and I’ve simply supplemented the literature that it includes with my own selections. It’s been nice to take a breather and add in some of the books we’d never gotten around to reading due to the intense reading schedule she always had – things like the Anne of Green Gables series and other titles I’ve always loved and wanted to share with her.

This year, she’ll be studying world history, and I wanted to add in literature that she hasn’t had much in-depth exposure to in the past. I’ve put together a unit on ancient literature for the fall, and in the spring, we’ll be using Lightning Literature and Composition: Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets from Hewitt Homeschooling.

I was still in the process of trying to decide what to do about literature when I had the chance to review Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets. I was impressed with the junior high Lightning Literature program I used with Karate Kid (13) a couple of years ago, so I thought a high school level would be worth trying out.

The Dancer (16) and I have spent the last several weeks working through the first of the four units included in this guide to see how we liked it. We received a set that included a paperback student guide and a three-hole punched, binder-ready teacher’s guide.

The four units cover:

  • Twelfth Night
  • As You Like It
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice

Each unit contains two lessons: one on the play, and one covering two sonnets, and takes several weeks to complete. The guide opens with an extensive introduction to Shakespeare himself: his background, writing style, and tips for reading his work. We’re wrapping up the unit on Twelfth Night, following the suggested schedule in the teacher’s guide, and the Dancer has really enjoyed it!

The student guide is very thorough, with brief introductions of each work, thought-provoking questions to keep in mind as you read, plot summaries to refer to if needed, comprehension questions, in-depth literary analysis of the themes, characters, and language concepts, and interesting writing assignments.

The units take several weeks to complete, and by the end of each one, the student has read the play and sonnets twice, hopefully watched a movie version (or better yet, live performance!), read the analysis, and written two papers that required their own analysis. According to the teacher’s guide, the first reading is to grasp the basics of the plot, while the second is to pay closer attention to the literary aspects, and it’s suggested that one if not both of the readings be done aloud.

Since we’ve never taken the time to really dig into Shakespeare’s works in detail, this has been a fun and interesting unit for us both! In addition to reading through the original play, I also had her read the Lamb’s version in Tales from Shakespeare. We rented one of the suggested movie versions (the guide has an extensive list of suggestions in an appendix) from Netflix, also found a modern-day take on it called She’s the Man, starring Amanda Bynes, and made a “girls’ movie night” of it!

The teacher’s guide is basic, with grading tips, answer keys for the discussion questions, and a suggested schedule. The guide is intended to be covered in one semester and is worth 1/2 credit in literature, although a year-long schedule is also provided.

I’m very impressed! The format is user-friendly and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The analysis is in-depth, thoughtful, and well-written, and the writing assignments are excellent. This is much more than just a “read the book, read an analysis, answer the questions” program. When a student completes a unit, they will have a thorough grasp on that particular play, and will have analyzed different aspects of it from multiple angles.

We’re shelving Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets to focus on ancient literature for the fall, but we’ll be picking it back up and completing it in the spring, to coincide with the Dancer’s history studies, and we’re both looking forward to it!

Comedies and Sonnets is recommended for 11th and 12th grade, and the student guide and teacher’s guide are available for $29.95 and $2.95, respectively. You can also purchase a package deal that includes them both, plus the four plays needed to complete the course, for $55.72.

If you’re looking for a quality literature program for your high schooler, I highly recommend this guide, or one of the others they offer. There are multiple other high-school level Lightning Literature courses available to fit your needs. 

You can read about them, in addition to their courses for elementary and junior high age students, by clicking the graphic below.



Have you taught Shakespeare in your homeschool? What resources did you use?

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  1. Oh that sounds like a great curriculum! I always loved studying Shakespeare and can’t wait to share it with my son…
    Lisa M. @ Farm Fresh recently posted…Hewitt Homeschooling: My First Report (Curriculum Review)My Profile

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