Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Common Sense Media says

Get the most out of magical comedy with text and animation.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Clearly labeled icons help kids quickly get to the appropriate scene or analysis section of the app. However, because of the lack of general instructions, some features, such as clicking on highlighted words to receive descriptions, are somewhat hidden. Most kids will figure out the special features quickly, though.

Violence

Some mild violence appears in Shakespeare's original text and in the animated scenes with characters planning to duel, hunt, or administer potions.

Sex

The play itself is full of sexual innuendos and mature situations, but the animations present a tame version of these aspects, and they're up for interpretation anyway.

Language

Characters sling insults. The word "ass" shows up regularly to reference a donkey and may cause kids to titter.

Consumerism

Icons on the main page direct kids to the developer's website and to their Facebook and Twitter pages. The "More Plays" section advertises additional plays available for purchase.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Psychedelic drugs and potions play a role in the plot but are presented tastefully in animations and aren't excessively drawn out or promoted.

Privacy & safety

You're not required to register or submit personal information, but there's no privacy policy in the app itself. The policy on the developer's website focuses on Ireland and the European Union and doesn't make it clear whether the policy covers the app as well as the website.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream lets kids see animated characters "perform" the play aloud on one side of the screen while the text is highlighted on the other. It gives kids studying Shakespeare the option to process the words by hearing them as well as reading, and there are lots of features that enhance the learning experience. Although it's presented tastefully, a bit of inappropriate content exists -- lots of sexual innuendos spice up the characters' antics. This app can help tweens and teens get the most out of Shakespeare's silliest, most magical of plays with a variety of handy features. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically

Communication

  • listening

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Shakespeare's writing may not be engaging to some kids, but these animated videos and other special features can really help them get into the challenging but worthwhile text. 

Learning Approach

Getting kids to understand and appreciate A Midsummer Night's Dream is the goal, and they have a few ways to get there: hearing the text, putting it together with the words they're seeing, taking their own notes, and utilizing lots more special features. 

Support

Subtitles, highlighted text, animation, scene summaries, and other support features make the text accessible to reluctant and low-level readers. However, the app lacks the resources to extend learning.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • text analysis

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically

Communication

  • listening

Kids can learn to take a deeper look into Shakespeare's challenging text. Instead of them getting lost as they navigate the fantastical setting and various characters, the animations, definitions, and summaries help them envision what's going on word by word. They also can read analyses to help determine what it all means and why Shakespeare's work is so relevant today. Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream supports kids from many angles, helping them understand one of Shakespeare's most popular (and most confusing!) comedies.

This Learning Rating review was written by Stacy Zeiger

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What's it about?

Animated Shakespeare is what you will find in SHAKESPEARE IN BITS: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Scene by scene, teens can watch animations that follow the text of the comedy to a T, seeing the text highlighted and/or appear as subtitles as characters speak and clicking on unfamiliar words for their definitions. Other supports, such as scene synopses, character profiles, and general analysis help enhance their understanding of the play.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Reading Shakespeare can be a really frustrating experience for lots of kids, but those struggling with the dense text will see a light at the end of the tunnel when they encounter this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. By placing the animations and text side by side, kids do more than watch a video version. They connect the words directly with the action, helping them not only understand what's going on in this magical play but also build an understanding of the language of Shakespeare. Although the animations may not be the highest quality, and some of the magic of the fantastical setting may be lost, it offers a way for readers to connect with and better understand an often-confusing play.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why it's sometimes easier to hear a play than simply to read it. Have your kids act out or read favorite scenes aloud and ask them if their experience changes. 

  • Many cities present free Shakespeare plays in parks. Check your local theater listings and watch your kids discover how goofy and fun the Bard can be, especially in this particular play. 

App details

Device:iPad
Price:$14.99
Release date:January 25, 2012
Category:Education
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters
Size:506.00 MB
Publisher:Mindconnex Learning Ltd.
Version:1.1.2p
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.0 or later

This review of Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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