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Tragedy of Macbeth Lesson Plans

Students will love creating a Macbeth storyboard to summarize the story and examine the various characters and literary devices. Check out the Macbeth lesson plans below that are Common Core aligned. These Macbeth activities and Macbeth projects ideas are designed to save teachers precious time all while engaging students!

Student Activities for Macbeth

William Shakespeare's Macbeth continues to be one of his most celebrated plays, even today. While it is not one of his more elaborately constructed works, it nonetheless examines the complicated nature of the human soul, especially when tempted with power and ambition. We watch Macbeth as he is tempted by the lure of the crown, and ultimately—with prodding from Lady Macbeth—decides to murder King Duncan and usurp the throne.

In this moment, he becomes not a king, but a tyrant, and ultimately it is this flaw in his character, his violent ambition, that leads to his downfall. The play examines important themes such as the danger of unbridled ambition, the contrast between a true leader and a tyrant, and the age-old debate of fate vs. free will in a person's life.

Macbeth Essential Questions

  1. How does ambition motivate people, as both a positive and negative trait?
  2. When do you feel guilt, and when do you experience remorse?
  3. To what extent, and in what ways does power affect a person's actions?

Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Please note: This summary comprises the full story of Macbeth and therefore contains spoilers!

The Tragedy of Macbeth play is one of William Shakespeare's best-known works. The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the story begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows his descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.

As the play begins, Macbeth receives a prophecy from three witches that one day he will become king. This prediction inevitably consumes him with ambition and greed. He is further led down his treacherous path by his wife, Lady Macbeth, who urges him to murder King Duncan and seize the throne without hesitation. Having done so, and ascended to the throne, Macbeth is consumed by guilt and fear. He becomes tyrannical, paranoid, and suspicious. He resorts to killing others to secure his place, and, as the bloodbath continues, this drives both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to arrogance, madness, and their eventual deaths.

Macbeth’s good friend, Banquo also was also given a prophecy by the witches. They said that, although Banquo would never be a king, he would produce a line of kings. Banquo accepted this fate with patience while Macbeth took action against Banquo and his son, Fleance.

Macbeth is not Shakespeare’s most complex play, but it is one of his most thrilling and emotionally intense. Shakespeare’s other major tragedies explore the intellectual dilemmas faced by the characters, while Macbeth meteorically rises and plummets from beginning to end.

About the Author

William Shakespeare is perhaps the most well-known playwright of all time. Born in April of 1564 in a small city in England, little is known about his childhood life. He had two older sisters and three younger brothers, and enjoyed learning about history and poetry in elementary school. When he was older, William married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children.

William was part of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting company in England. He wrote plays and acted for the company, and his plays became very popular in the city. As he became more and more well-known, Shakespeare wrote more and more plays, averaging about a play and a half per year and totalling 37 plays in his lifetime!

Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52, but is still known as one of the most influential writers of the English language. His works are the most often quoted, second only to the Bible!

Discussion Questions to Use in Pairs or Groups

These questions may be used during reading, or upon completion of the play. While it is best to get students discussing what they’ve read, these questions can also be answered individually in a reader’s notebook. It is always such a joy to hear the different opinions that students have, even though they are reading the same information!

  1. Macbeth’s actions were influenced by others in the play. Who influenced the decisions that he made? Give specific examples from the play to support your answer.

  2. What do you think is the major theme of this play? Give examples of how it is prevalent throughout the play acts. Note: others may have varying opinions!

  3. Obviously Macbeth’s character changes a great deal from the beginning to the end of the play. Discuss the ways in which he has changed. Be sure to back up your answers with textual evidence.

  4. What are some examples of Macbeth’s good qualities that have been used for the wrong purposes?

  5. What are the consequences for the choices that Macbeth made throughout the play?

  6. Discuss your thoughts on Lady Macbeth. Does she play as much of a role as Macbeth does, when it comes to their fate?

  7. How is Macbeth’s friend, Banquo, vastly different from Macbeth? What happens to him?

Macbeth Activities and Project Ideas

Storyboard That is an excellent tool for students to create fun and engaging projects as a culminating activity after finishing a novel or a play. In addition to our premade activities, here are some ideas that teachers can customize and assign to students to spark creativity in individual students, pairs, or small groups for a final project. Several of these ideas include Storyboard That template that can be printed out or copied into your teacher dashboard and assigned digitally. All final projects can be printed out, presented as a slide show, or, for an extra challenge, as an animated gif!

  1. For Groups: Choose a scene from the play to reenact it to the class. Use the traditional storyboard layout to plan out your scenes. You can add text to your storyboards, or simply use the cells to visualize each scene of your play.

  2. Using the timeline layout, retell the play in chronological order. Our timeline layout gives you the options to include year, month, day, and even hour! You may also choose to omit these altogether.

  3. Choose a setting from the story and create a map of the setting using the small poster or worksheet layout. Use free form or other text boxes to include a key or label the different parts of the map.

  4. Using one of Storyboard That’s board game templates, create a game based on the play for your classmates to play!

  5. For Groups: Divide the scenes of the play amongst your group members. Each member of the group creates a storyboard for their assigned scene. This can be done as a collaborative project, or separately for longer plays and novels.

  6. Using the worksheet layout and Storyboard That’s worksheet assets, create a test or a quiz for other students in the class. You can create all kinds of questions such as multiple choice, short answer, and even matching! When you are done, be sure to make an answer key.

  7. Using one of Storyboard That’s biography poster templates, create a poster about the character of your choice. Be sure to include important biographical features such as: place and date of birth, family life, accomplishments, etc.

  8. Choose a scene from the play and create a storyboard that shows that scene from another character’s point of view. For an extra challenge, use the T-chart layout to compare the original point of view with another character’s point of view!

  9. Create a book jacket of the play using one of Storyboard That’s book jacket templates. Use Storyboard That art to create the cover, and write a summary of the story on the back, just like real books have!

  10. Using one of Storyboard That’s social media templates as a starting point, create a social media page for one or more of the characters in the play. Be sure to think how the character thinks while creating this page.

  11. Create a scrapbook page made by one of the characters in the play. Storyboard That has lots of premade templates that you can use as is, or change to fit your character’s personality! Check out our scrapbook templates today!

  12. Who is the third murderer of Banquo? Come up with a solution to this mystery!

  13. Connect the witches' prophecy to Macbeth's downfall in each act. Create a storyboard to describe their connection.

  14. Create a Macbeth storyboard that shows the ways Lady Macbeth portrays the theme of ambition.

  15. Create a storyboard to visually depict a major soliloquy or monologue from the play.

Buy Macbeth on Amazon

Other Plays Written by William Shakespeare

How to Analyze "The Tragedy of Macbeth" Using Storyboard That


Choose a Macbeth Analysis Topic

Select a specific aspect of "The Tragedy of Macbeth" that you want to analyze with your students. This could include themes, characters, literary devices, or key scenes. For example, you could focus on the theme of ambition, the character development of Macbeth, or the use of dramatic irony.


Select a Storyboard Template

Choose a storyboard template that best fits your analysis topic. Consider using the plot diagram template to analyze the story's structure, the character analysis template to delve into the traits and motivations of specific characters, or the theme analysis template to explore the central themes of the play.


Customize the Storyboard

Customize the storyboard template by adding text boxes, images, and captions to analyze and explain your chosen topic. Encourage students to use quotes from the play as textual evidence to support their analysis. They can also incorporate visual elements to enhance their understanding and interpretation.


Complete the Analysis

Guide your students in completing their storyboard analysis. Encourage them to thoroughly analyze their chosen topic, provide thoughtful interpretations, and make connections to the overall meaning and impact of the play. Remind them to use specific examples and evidence from the text to support their analysis.


Discuss and Share

Facilitate a class discussion where students can share their storyboard analyses. Encourage them to explain their interpretations, listen to their classmates' perspectives, and engage in respectful dialogue. This collaborative discussion will deepen their understanding and encourage critical thinking.

Frequently Asked Questions about Macbeth

What are the main themes in Macbeth?

There are many ongoing themes in this play. The supernatural is a consistent theme, with the Three Weird Sisters being the most prevalent example of the supernatural. Some other themes in Macbeth include ambition, power, and appearance versus reality.

Who are the main characters in Macbeth?

While there are many important characters in this play, the main characters include Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff.

Why does Macbeth kill Banquo?

Although Banquo was once Macbeth’s trusted friend, Macbeth realizes he can no longer be trusted and thinks that Banquo is a threat to him. As a result, Macbeth has Banquo murdered.

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our English Language Arts Category!
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