Grant Spotlight

Grant spotlight: Summer sonnet workshops introduce kids to Shakespeare, writing

With a grant from Humanities Nebraska, Flatwater Shakespeare Company in Lincoln held its first summer sonnet workshops for youth in June. 

The “Little But Fierce” workshop for kids going into Kindergarten through 6th grade was held at Bennett Martin Library and at the Clyde Malone Community Center. The Sonnet Intensive workshop was also held at Bennett Martin for students entering 7th through 12th grades. 

A total of 38 kids ages 4 to 15 participated. This included children with learning differences, such as ADHD, autism, or anxiety disorders.

“Four children signed up on location after being excited by seeing the other children
participate,” reported program director and workshop leader Becky Boesen. 

The students met daily for a week to learn about sonnet structure, storytelling, and language, with a focus on Shakespeare. As they wrote their own sonnets, they developed the skills to fearlessly share the important things they have to say with others. 

Instructors led the students in discovering iambs through heartbeats, building a “train” that modeled a sonnet, and exploring how the meaning of some words have changed since Shakespeare’s time. Dr. Steve Buhler demon-strated sonnets set to music and kids enjoyed rap versions of Shakespeare, among many other activities. Each workshop ended with a public performance for friends and families.  

Response from parents and students alike was overwhelmingly positive. Outreach
coordinator Petra Wahlqvist said “100% of the responding parents felt that [the workshops were] a valuable experience for their child(ren)” and wanted more opportunities like Little But Fierce and Sonnet Intensive workshops. 

“This is the best thing that ever happened to me…and I’ve been to Disneyland, so that’s saying a lot,” one student said. 


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