Its my sons first encounter with Shakespeare Can the computer help

The boom in new film adaptations of Shakespeare plays — Mel Gibson's Hamlet, Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado About Nothing, Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet, Ian McKellan's Richard III — has done wonders to make the Bard accessible and appealing to today's students. The Web hath charms for young students of Shakespeare, too. And if you think an Elizabethan playwright and 20th century technology make strange bedfellows (a Shakespearean coinage, by the way), check out these sites, and think again!

• Bookmark The Shakespearean Insult Server to make a homework-laden student smile. Kids see an insult like "Thou craven rough-hewn maggot-pie" when the page opens. To get more, they click their browser's Refresh button — and keep on clicking until the ill-mannered inanities restore their sense of humor. The URL is insult.html. You can also visit the Random Elizabethan Curse Generator at

• When the test's tomorrow and your son forgot his book, try Works of the Bard. The site also has a wonderful search engine for finding particular lines, looking for occurrences of certain words or metaphors, and the like. The URL is

Kids can pay a virtual visit to the Globe Theatre and drink in the (recreated) sights and (recorded) sounds of the Elizabethan theater by subscribing to Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Shakespeare and the Globe: Then and Now at is a beautifully designed, fun-to-explore multimedia essay that holds pleasures for students of many different ages. Younger kids will enjoy the animated 3D tours of the Globe; older kids can explore other multimedia goodies ranging from period lute music and madrigals to actors like John Barrymore, Orson Welles, and John Gielgud in performance.

Lots of fun to be found, Your Shakespeare Classroom on the Internet. This virtual classroom, designed by a teacher of English and drama, offers video re-enactments, online discussion groups, and study of the plays. The URL is

The Shakespeare Resource Center ( offers play synopses, Shakespeare's will, and many links to other Shakespeare resources.

To find still more of the Web's thousands of Shakespeare sites, try the links collected at Mr. William Shakespeare & the Internet, called one of the 300 Best Web Sites in the World by Forbes magazine. The URL is

The Romeo & Juliet CD-ROM from Stratford Studios was developed with the help of middle-school students and it reflects the slang they use and the ideas they voice in classroom discussions. The title takes teen lingo a little too far, but it has terrific quiz-show-style games that help kids learn the things they're most likely to be tested on: the play's vocabulary (forfeit, posterity, transgression, heretic, disposition, discreet), stylistic devices (simile, metaphor, oxymoron, alliteration, personification, irony, hyperbole), significant lines and who said them, and more. The title is available by phone (888-962-4559) or via the Web at http://www.

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