Monday, September 16, 2013

Shakespeare in Bits Review

Is your child struggling to learn Shakespeare?  Do you wish there was a way to make it easier and more engaging?  Enter Shakespeare in Bits.  The company, MindConnex, has fully animated five of William Shakespeare's plays.  Since my son, who is in tenth grade this year, has Macbeth on his reading list, I was happy to review this product.  Not only did I have a chance to view Macbeth, but I also had access to Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.  The other two plays which are offered are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  

Shakespeare in Bits is unique in that it provides many visuals to engage the student.  Each play has a section that describes the characters in detail along with an animation so that the student will know the character when he/she sees him in the play.  A character map is also provided, almost like a family tree.  It lets the reader know how the characters are related to each other.  I found this to be an invaluable tool.  Shakespeare can be difficult.  There are a lot of characters in his plays, and it is helpful to know who is related to each other, who the friends are, and who the enemies are.

An analysis is provided which summarizes the plot, talks about the themes that run throughout the play, describes how imagery is used, and provides a wonderful explanation about the language in the play.  This language analysis is a very helpful section that aided our understanding of how to read Shakespeare and what the characters were saying.  Of course, the animation of the play provides the most insight.  It is cleverly animated and enjoyable to watch.  The actual words of the play remain on the screen so that the reader knows who is speaking and what they are saying.  The words of the one speaking are highlighted.  Some parts of speech are highlighted in green.  These words can be clicked, and a definition appears.  Notes are provided to the left of the speech that help the reader comprehend even more of what he is hearing and/or reading.  Notes are provided and scene synopses are given for each scene.

I don't think the makers of Shakespeare in Bits left one stone unturned when they created these online animated plays.  So much information is provided that it is hard to believe someone wouldn't understand Shakespeare after reading everything and watching the play.

Versions are available for PC, Apple Products, and Android for $14.99 per play.  I am honored to have been given the opportunity to review these plays.  I think it has definitely enhanced my son's understanding of Macbeth.  I asked him what he thought, and he said he felt it was better suited to people who are in middle school.  However, I enjoyed it immensely and was incredibly impressed by what I saw.  I think that anybody who is going to be reading Shakespeare should have this to supplement their learning.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

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