Henry IV, Part I: Does Father Know Best? ~ Lesson Plan

Lesson Overview

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LESSON TITLE: Henry IV, Part I: Does Father Know Best?

GRADE LEVEL: Grades 9-12

TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods

In this lesson, students will examine the relationships between parents and children in Henry IV, Part I. As the lesson begins, students will talk about expectations they feel are put on them and think about how they are influenced by these expectations. Next, students will view segments from the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered to gain an overview of the various fathers and sons in the play, including King Henry, Prince Harry, Hotspur, and Falstaff. Students will then turn to the play itself, reading and analyzing excerpts from three key scenes in the development of the relationship between the king and the prince: Act I, Scene i; Act I, Scene ii; and Act III, Scene ii. To sum up the lesson, students will try writing a scene that Shakespeare didn’t include in the play, in which Prince Harry gets to tell his father how he feels about the expectations that have been laid upon him.

This lesson is best used after reading Act III, Scene ii of Henry IV, Part I, or after reading the entire play.


English/Language Arts


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe how Shakespeare uses the theme of parents and children in Henry IV, Part I.
  • Draw connections between the representations of parent/child relationships in the play with relationships in their own lives.
  • Interpret a literary text by analyzing characters’ motivations and decisions.
  • Perform a close reading of speeches and scenes in Henry IV, Part I that includes deciphering denotation, connotation, imagery, and metaphor.


National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Standard 1
Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

Standard 2
Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

Standard 3
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Common Core Literature Standards for Grades 11-12

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.



Excerpt from Shakespeare Uncovered: Henry IV & V with Jeremy Irons.

Access the video segment for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Segment: “A Royal Family”

An exploration of father-son relationships in Henry IV, Part I.


For the class:

  • Computer, projection screen, and speakers (for class viewing of online video segments).

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview the video segment used in the lesson. Prepare to watch it using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Print out and make copies of the “What’s Expected of You?” Student Organizer for each student.

Print out and make copies of Henry IV, Scenes from Act I for each student.

Print out and make copies of Henry IV, Act III, Scene ii for each student.

Print out and make copies of “The Scene Shakespeare Never Wrote” Assignment for each student.

Proceed to Lesson Activities.