Children from across the country have been getting creative with Shakespeare as part of an exciting competition for Shakespeare Week - the annual national celebration of Shakespeare in primary schools run by independent charity, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Over 300 entries were received from primary school children, aged between 4 and 11 years, who creatively responded to one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes from the play The Tempest: ‘A turn or two I’ll walk, To still my beating mind’.
Sally Gray, Shakespeare Week education officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “It wasn’t easy to select our winners and in order to do so we looked carefully to see evidence that the children had reflected on Shakespeare’s words – what did the quote mean to them and how did they relate it to their own experiences? We also admired the quality and originality of the children’s creative responses.
“We feel privileged to have been given an insight into the thoughts and feelings of young children as they emerge from the pandemic. Many of the children that sent us their work mentioned how recent events had affected them and many also talked openly about their own personal difficulties and the emotions they felt.
“It feels very appropriate that we are announcing the results of the competition during Mental Health Awareness Week and we hope that other young people will visit the online exhibition to read about the children’s personal experiences as well as their tips for good mental wellbeing.”
The winners and special prizes for each category are:
Winner (4-7 years)
Hugo, age 7 sent us a wonderful poem based on The Tempest.
Hugo told us that he reads fiction books to calm himself down and that “I feel that when I am sad, anxious or angry, being near a loved one helps.”
First runner-up (4-7 years)
James, age 7 sent a thoughtful illustrated poem.
James told us that he stills his ‘beating mind’ by cuddling his dog and his brothers. He told us: “I do like writing poems to cheer myself up and also go for a walk outside in the forest.”
Second runner-up (4-7 years)
Jacob, Alfie, Louis and Nate, ages 6 and 7 contributed a video that they had written and performed together about ‘what makes you calm’.
Things that help the four boys feel calm and happy include doing yoga, reading books and eating crisps!
Winner (8-11 years)
Kaihan, age 11 wrote his own sonnet inspired by the quote.
Kaihan told us: "The Shakespeare quote means a lot to me because we all have so many activities to do and we are constantly learning new things so it’s hard to slow down our minds. My favourite physical activity is playing football and whenever I want to distract myself and not think about one million things, I simply go outside with my ball!"
Joint first runner-up (8-11 years)
Daisy, age 11 entered a beautiful collection of artwork and a poem.
Daisy told us how running and walking with her dogs makes her feel happy and benefits her mental wellbeing. She also told us: “I read every day as much as I can. It makes me feel calm and lovely and I go to sleep feeling perfectly peaceful.”
Joint first runner-up (8-11 years)
Laura, age 11 put us through our paces with an energetic Shakespeare themed workout.
Laura explained how Shakespeare’s quote resonated with her: “Physical activity has helped me when I feel anxious because getting my heart beating faster and warming up my muscles helps me empty my mind instead of my thoughts dwelling inside my head."
Second runner-up (8-11 years)
Mala, age 9 composed some fabulous music on Garage Band to accompany her beautiful artwork. This is how Mala described her work: “I created this because I thought about what the quote really meant to me, and I imagined a calm, tranquil scene compared to a stormy, ominous scene and I wanted to express my emotions so then I took all of those thoughts and started sketching it out onto paper! I love music as well, so I added some music I made myself with it, and it represented my thoughts and feelings as the storm and then it goes into a calm melody."
Joint winners, whole school entry
Two schools, Claverdon Primary School, Warwickshire and Chickerell Primary Academy, Dorset, were also awarded prizes for their collective entries. The judges felt that the range and quality of the responses from children of all ages and abilities at these two schools warranted special recognition.
Fiona Bedford, Year 6 teacher at Chickerell Primary Academy said:
“Mental Health and emotional wellbeing are valued at our school but it is not always easy to ‘still a beating mind’ when it is growing so quickly and is busy with thoughts, worries and trying to navigate day to day life.
“Taking part in the competition has offered our children an opportunity to truly express who they are as individuals and to really consider how their own interests and talents support their physical and emotional wellbeing.
“We loved taking part in Shakespeare Week this year, it was a wonderful way for the children to engage with Shakespeare and ignite a new interest for his work.”
Special prize for poetry
Frances, age 11
Frances created a spiral shaped poem to signify the ‘turn or two’ from the quote. Her poem describes how she feels when she is angry and how a walk can soothe and calm her. Frances also loves to read and finds that “By reading I can leave my own world and join someone else’s."
Special prizes for art
Jack age 5 and Murray age 11
Jack drew a picture of his garden and said: “I drew a picture of my safe place. I exercise to keep calm.”
Murray used the art of pyrography to create a forest scene on wood. He said: "I like the quote 'A turn or two I'll walk, To still my beating mind'. I have ADHD so I have a lot of 'traffic' going around my head. I sometimes feel like I have to do everything at once. Walking calms me down. Sometimes my teachers send me on movement breaks to help me concentrate in class. When I am walking I feel calm and my mind can wander to magical places like this enchanted forest which I have drawn."
We would like to thank all the schools, children and families that took the time to enter the competition - we think that all the entries were of a very high standard. Congratulations to everyone that took part. With thanks also to Marcia Williams, Michael Rosen, Ben Cajee, Katharine Orton, Nicola Davies, Nicola Morgan, Matt Oldfield and Georghia Ellinas for giving their time and providing wonderful creative responses in order to inspire children to talk and take part. A special extra thank you to Marcia Williams for being our Head Judge.
To see the winners’ responses as well as the runners up and a selection of the highly commended entries, visit our online exhibition.