The Voice in the Forest

play by Karen Wasson , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning intention: 

I am learning to communicate using different social dialects so that I can read increasingly challenging texts. 

Success criteria: 

  • I can differentiate different social dialects in a text. 
  • I can research other words and their meanings in the same social context. 
  • I can use these words in texts and spoken presentations. 

Read the play as a class, assigning students separate roles to read. Once complete, ask students to identify the three words or phrases in the play that are no longer commonly used i.e., “olden day” words. Answers: 

  • Good morrow 
  • How fare ye? 
  • Hark 

Ask students what each of these words mean, using the information in the play for guidance, and to give an example in a sentence. Ask them what they notice about the words and whether they’ve seen them before. Possible responses may be: 

  • “morrow” looks like “tomorrow” 
  • “fare” can mean payment for transport like the bus or ferry 
  • “Hark” is used in Christmas carols such as Hark Now Hear the Angels Sing 

Brainstorm other words that students might know from historical social contexts. Prompt them with Christmas carols, movies set in Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, etc. Write answers on the board, and include others: 

  • Thou 
  • Thy 
  • Thee 
  • Thine 
  • Twixt 
  • Tis 
  • Methinks 
  • Sirrah 
  • Knave 
  • Doth 
  • Hath 
  • Art 
  • Forsooth 
  • Quoth 

Split class into groups of two or three and assign each group a word to research. Students need to write down the definition of their assigned word as well as an example sentence. Once complete, join two or three groups together so there are six or seven students per group, and have them present a short play set in Elizabethan times, correctly using all the words they’ve collectively researched.