Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Chocolate Factory - Part Seven - Wonka Day!!

We have finished our read aloud of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is time to celebrate all of our hard work and close reading of this fantastic literary classic. I spared no expense on this blow out. Honestly, I think I had more fun coming up with activities and treats for this day. I searched high and low for ideas that could match the imaginations of Roald Dahly himself.

Looking back on all of it, I'm not sure if I should have kept the schedule and treats for the day such a closely guarded secret. I think they might have enjoyed it that much more if I did a little lead up to the great day. I mean I had treats stashed everywhere in my room just so they wouldn't find them  until we were ready to celebrate. I couldn't believe how many things I was able to find that matched Charlie's adventure. I found:

*edible grass (thankfully Easter is close upon us),
*Exploding Candy for Your Enemies (in the form of Pop Rocks),
*Square Candies that Looked Round (actually, edible Lego squares with the little building block pegs on top),
*Fizzing Lifting Drink out of Club Soda and Mio Lemon flavoring,
*Caramels from the Caramel Lake,
*Edible Marshmallow Pillows (sugar coated marshmallows, oh my!)
*Tiny Bird's Eggs (that may or may not have a tiny baby bird inside)
*Everlasting Gobstoppers (those were easy since they actually sell them)
*Walnuts (sadly they were not opened by squirrels)
*Golden Eggs Laid by Golden Geese (gold foiled wrapped chocolate eggs)
*Rock Candy Mountains (my favorite drop shaped melt aways with candy beads on the bottom Nonpareils?)

YES! I had fun trying to find all of this stuff. I was actually giggling as I went through the candy store. Sadly I couldn't find Lickable Wallpaper in time. I was going to buy those sheets of Candy Dots and cut them up for each kid. Wouldn't you know it, I saw them in a store not three days after the party?

As for the activity list we started out the day completing our Candy Bar Creation sheet for morning work. As soon as they had their chosen ingredients that would bring the cost of their candy bar in under a dollar they came up to get the ingredients in their little muffin cup with a numbered stick. You should have seen me doling out M&M's, Hot Tamales, Mini Marshmallows, Reese's, Oreo crumbles, Marshmallow Fluff, Gummi Bears, Gummi Worms, Coconut, and Peanut butter. That was not fun.

I had the crock pot filled with the Kandi-Quik melting bars and just dropped melted chocolate over all their ingredients and stuck them in the refrigerator until the end of the day. Once they were able to sample their own inventions, there was not a disgusted customer in the house. 

We also had a Pinata stuffed with other goodies for the end of the day. Uh-huh. I ain't dumb. I saved all the chocolate for the end of the day. Surprisingly after 25 kids took a whack at it there wasn't even a dent in the thing at all. We saved it for the next day and got to earn chips for good behavior. After several more whacks the top came apart and spilled on the ground. Thankfully they did not all rush it at once and I was able to pass out the goodies evenly. 

I also had a big garbage bag filled with balloons for the very last moment of the day. One of my little friends got to come up and pull the cord that would open the bag. She required a little help, though. I told everyone to find one balloon and wait for me to yell, "GO!" before popping it. Then the rest were free game. First I made them promise that they would definitely help me pick up every scrap of balloon when we were done. 

1, 2, 3 .  .  .  GO!

Thanks, Mr. Dahl for a most incredible couple of weeks. I wonder how I could make it better for next year's group?  Any ideas? Share in the comments below. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Chocolate Factory - Part Six - Chocolate Invetions

Part of the reason I wanted to do this novel study now was that it fit so nicely into my Science plans as well. Don't you just love it when you can take an idea across the curriculum? We are currently working through Forces, Motion, and Simple Machines. A unit that asks students to look closely at the world around them and see how we use simple ideas to make our work easier. I like it because it gets them asking about why things happen. One of my students wanted to know if trees weren't planted in the ground, would they go flying off into space. They have some interesting misconceptions about things I take for granted. Helping them see how it all works is part of what makes my job great.

I worked off the wonderous mind of Mr. Willy Wonka and his fantabulous chocolate factory and asked my students to give it a go. If they could use some simple machines and create a candy invention, what would they make? Now, I had to have some requirements such as limiting the size of their invention to be able to fit on top of their desk and not taller than two feet. They had to identify at least three simple machines and a heat source. I assured them, and their parents, that it didn't actually have to work. The rest was up to them.

The Big Reveal day is always exciting. The kids come in in dribs and drabs with their projects covered up with bags or paper. All the others gather around to ooh and aah and talk about what they see. They are fascinated with the new machine until the next child walks in and begins the process all over again. They can hardly contain themselves to present their ideas to their friends. Good thing we have Science first thing in the morning. This year they really surprised me with some amazing ideas, some that actually worked.

Here's a student who created chocolate crayons that could actually write. Wouldn't you just love that? He provided samples for everyone to try. I know he used a crayon making machine from the story, but I have to admire his creative thought processes. And the Chocoyons weren't half bad.

Also, he created a fun persuasive poster that tied in our unit from writing. 

Another student went totally original and built her's from a game she loved to play. Build a Better Mousetrap used to be one of my favorites as well as a kid. I had no idea they were still around. But she described it to a Tee. You could tell she enjoyed making this through her description of the machine's finer points. I liked that she also added in another simple machine that we discussed briefly but isn't part of our curriculum, per se. The gears work off the same principal as a wheel and axle, but add teeth.

Oh, and this next child got an automatic A+ because she included a little Mr. Fryns in her factory.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Chocolate Factory - Part Five - Along the Corridor

Well, we've left poor Ms. Beauregarde behind. Two nasty little children gone, three good little children left (btw, our class discussed whether or not the remaining children - Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, and Charlie - were indeed 'good' children. There was a resounding NO! So then we had to talk about why Mr. Dahl would have written the story that way. We figured out that was a form of foreshadowing and Mr. Dahl had more in store for us.).

Mr. Wonka dances along a hallway with the rest of the group tagging along. We pass many incredible rooms such as Edible Pillows and Cows that Give Chocolate Milk. As a literary tie-in I asked my students to think of what room they would most like to see in the Wonka Factory. I gave them an index card and had them name and describe their room on the lined side and draw a map of their room on the blank side. They were really creative with their ideas and wanted to share them afterwards. I ended up putting them up on the wall next to their Wonka illustrations.

Here are just a few of the rooms my students wanted to see:




The Chocolate Factory - Part Four - Goodbye Violet

I am seriously having the most fun with this book. I think it helps that I know it so well that I can think about what's about to happen and come up with some fun ways to engage the kids with it.

Take for instance the chapter when Violet Beauregarde comes to a nasty end as she snatches the Wonka Magic Gum and sets her tremendous jaws to the task. I was originally thinking of making a paper Mache version of her stuffed with gum so the kids could whack at her. Then another idea 'popped' into my head. Someone shouts 'Prick her with a pin' in the book. I remembered the set of darts I have stuffed in my desk from a carnival day I'd had years ago. That led to thinking about popping balloons, which got me thinking about filling smaller versions of Violet and let the kids throw darts at her. I know, I know. It's wicked, but what fun we had!

One of my girls overheard me talking to another teacher and then hounded me for the rest of the day to find out what I was doing the day before I revealed the big surprise. I would only tell her that it involved PURPLE. When she saw the darts she knew.

So I let her be the first to throw a dart to try and pop Violet. I could have gotten more creative with my version of the ill fated brat, but it was really all I could do to stuff a piece of Bubblicious down into those pesky balloons. Do you know how hard it is to get gum inside of a balloon? Let's just say I originally intended to put three pieces in each of 24 balloons, but quit after one in each.

It was actually another girl in my class that managed to finally pop Ms. Beauregarde. Her prize was the rest of the gum! 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Chocolate Factory - Part Three - Mr. Willy Wonka

Today was the big day in my classroom. We had reached the chapter when all of the lucky Golden Ticket winners were lined up outside the gates of the Wonka Factory and the clock was about to strike ten.

So last night, I decorated my classroom door to look like the outside of the factory:

And then this morning as the children came in they were greeted with the cast of Glee singing "Pure Imagination" and their teacher dressed like this:

I was making a construction paper top hat last night and didn't really want to spend more time coloring in the paper plate with a black marker when I realized I already had something that would. When I got home last night I dug through the closet and pulled out my Mad Hatter outfit from Halloween two years ago. The kids didn't seem to mind and all the other teachers got a good laugh.

When it came time to read Chapter 14, Mr. Willy Wonka, I gave them a sheet to try their hand at illustrating this fantastical character. The text ran down one side and I asked them to underline the material that they used in the picture. Did they draw his black top hat? His plum-colored coat? I had to explain what trousers were, but they did a pretty good job.

Here's my favorite: I love the nose.

I was going to draw little Oompa-Loompa shadows in the windows of my door factory, but when I saw these I changed up my plans. I took all of their pictures and put them in the windows instead. They turned out super cute!

The Chocolate Factory - Part Two- We Begin to Read

I passed out a BME chart for the students to write in as we begin reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As we made our way through the first several chapters, they noticed that there weren't really any events happening to the characters, but it was giving us information about the Bucket Family and about Mr. Wonka himself. Very interesting noticings.

I also gave them a characterization chart for Grandpa Joe. In this they were to look for information regarding this sprightly 96 and a half year old. When they found something they would record it on their sheet. Then fill in information about what the text meant when they said this, or why the author thought it was important to share. The last column was for them to write down their own reactions to this information. The first thing they noticed was that there were four people sharing one bed. They thought Roald Dahl wanted us to know how poor the family was. Some of the kids wrote down things like, "Wow! That's a lot of people in one bed." or "I wouldn't be able to sleep with someone's feet in my face."

Another activity we were doing for the first couple of days had to do with summarizing each of the chapters. They were to write a sentence or two to explain what had happened and then write down a new title for that chapter. I thought it would be an interesting way to gauge whether they could manipulate material to come up with their own synopsis of a section. I had them turn this sheet in when they finished with chapter ten. I was pleased to see how well most of them did with this. They were getting the main gist and could come up with comprehensible chapter titles. Some of them tried getting away with things like, "Chocolate" or "OMG!"  I had to pull them aside and explain how vague that was. They needed to really think about what was happening in the story and think about how best to explain in three words or less. Very interesting.

After chapter 6 there was a vocabulary quiz to see if they could use their context clues and resources to understand unfamiliar words. Most of them did well with words like drafts, dotty, and margarine. Some of them took the lazy way out and tried to use these new words in sentences like, "My mom is fastened (fascinated) with her new car." or "I want deserted (dessert) after dinner." Pretty funny stuff.

The Chocolate Factory - Part One - Here Comes Charlie!

I was just about to finish up our prescribed extended text, George Washington's Socks. I have been enjoying the process of Close Reading with longer texts and the kids really do get into the stories. I needed to start planning for what was coming next.

Our third nine week quarter was about to end and we were moving into our Science unit on Forces, Motion, and Simple Machines. Whenever I do this unit, I am reminded fondly of the time I had my third graders build chocolate inventions after we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of my favorite days was the big reveal when the kids got to show off their skills and explain how their machines worked. Plus, there was always plenty of candy to be had!

Problem solved. I would use Charlie as my next extended text. Diet be d-----d! I went to the Scholastic site and found out Charlie was being sold for $7. EEK! No way could I afford to buy all of the kids their own copies. I scrolled just a little further and noticed that a combo set of Charlie as well as the Great Glass Elevator was being closed out for $3. Hmm. Parent conferences came up and I asked parents if they'd be willing to pitch in $2 so their child could have two books. They agreed. I put up the rest of the funds.

The box arrived with 25 copies of the gleaming gold covers. I couldn't wait to start handing them out. Then it hit me. The kids should be excited about this as well. So the simple machine I call my brain began to turn. The next morning each child came in to discover this on their desk:

It was a fun sized chocolate bar with a label I printed out. But the surprise was what lay wrapped round the bar itself. As the kids arrived each one, slowly unraveled their prize to discover:

Their very own Golden Ticket! If you read it it tells them to turn in the ticket for their very own copy of the book. Such fun watching them run around as each new person arrived begging them to open their bar to see if they got the Golden Ticket as well. The excitement was palatable.

When reading time arrived that day, I had to make them wait just a day longer. We had some predicting to do. I gave them a copy of the text from the lead in page of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Roald Dahl labels each of the kids. We looked at the description such as - Augustus Gloop, a very greedy boy- and thought, "What would a greedy boy do?" They wrote down their thoughts for each of the characters and then shared them with an Elbow Friend.

That was Day One.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Science Lab Sheets

They've just closed school for tomorrow, too. I'm afraid we might be in school until June. This hasn't happened since I lived in Massachusetts and we'd go back to school after Labor Day in September. Down in the south they go back in early August, sometimes in late July like we did this  year. Before today was called out we had already used up all of our official snow days and teachers were planning to go back for the first time after Memorial Day. Now we've got two more days out. With the possibility of more. Ugh.

It leaves me sitting on the couch watching episodes of Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards. All the while thinking about the lessons I had planned for today. We are knee deep in our unit on Sound and having a grand old time with some fun experiments, see previous post. Of course this is when I find a great resource stuffed in the back of my file cabinet on actual paper. It is a simple lab worksheet but it includes all of the great questions I want my students to think about.

I had planned to use it for another science sound experiment today. We were going to determine what type of material sound moves quicker through. Is it a solid or a gas? They would take a rubber band and hold it stretched out between thumb and forefinger. As they pluck it they would describe the sound. Then they would take a plastic cup and stretch the rubber band around the top and bottom and pluck it again. By the end they should determine that the vibrations from the motion of their fingers would produce a softer sound since the air molecules are further apart. The sound from the cup will be louder since the molecules of the cup will move faster carrying the sound to their ears.

Sounds plucky, right? {did you like my pun?} Well, that is waiting for us back in school when we return. Keep your fingers crossed that it isn't in June. Here's the sheet I was talking about.

You can pick it up for free here.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Science - Sound Experiments

Do you ever have those teacher moments when you are actually surprised how well a lesson goes? Me too! Our county provided us with a suggested list of lessons and experiments to try for each of our Science units. Since we are doing Sound at the moment, I downloaded the unit plans. There were some great ideas in there, but I thought they were a bit short to carry an entire 45 min block of time. When it hit me. Why not turn them into stations and have the class rotate through them?


I had three stations set up for the day, but quickly realized my 25 students would not work so well in such large groups. They need smaller groups to be more successful. So I came up with two more on the fly. Cuz that's how teachers roll, right?

The first one from the county was to create a straw flute. The kids were to cut an arrow point into the bottom of a straw and then pinch the middle and cut a tiny hole there. As they blow through the flat end a whistling noise will be produced. There was a question sheet I had in a page protector at the station. Each child came to the group with pencil, paper, and clipboard. As they rotate through the stations they would draw a squiggly line underneath as they finish one. This saves on paper and copying.

The second was a weird one. It involved a wire hanger and two pieces of string. They were to tap the wire hanger with a pencil first to listen to it. They could tap the hanger with other objects and see if the pitch changes. Next they were to tie a 6" piece of string to each corner of the hanger, wrap their fingers around each bottom of the string and stick their fingers in their ears. They looked so goofy doing this, but they really got into it.

The final county suggestion was to use three glass jars filled with varying amounts of water. They were to tap each and describe the different sounds they heard. They also had to determine which jar made the loudest and softest sounds.

My two lessons were to look at some handmade musical instruments students have made in the past and describe materials and purpose for each of these instruments. This was to act as a preview of the Science Project I was about to send home for them. The other lesson worked with the computer. I turned on the media player and played a tune without sound showing the visualizations page. The students were to determine what was happening, why the bars got taller and shorter, why some always stayed short, and what type of pace the song was. Then they got to turn on the music and check their predictions. They loved doing this.

I let them bang away and talk through the stations for about 7 mins before I had them all stop and start the writing portion. Otherwise this group would use the whole time to tap, strike, hit, smash, throw the instruments and never do any serious thinking. We rotated the stations after 15 mins. We weren't able to get every child through every station, but the interaction and results I was seeing them write were really awesome. I told them we could save the stations for another day if we finish early.

Hurray for Science!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

American Revolution Hanger People

Last year when I was hunting around for ideas to improve my American Revolution folder, I found this great blog post from Teaching in Room 6 where she detailed tons of fun ideas to enhance her curriculum. One of the things that she talked about was creating a Hanger Person. Her students picked one of the famous names from the period of turmoil as those colonists broke free from that pesky King George III. They wrote a report about their person and then went a step further and created a little visual display of their person using a hanger as the body shape.

I printed off a bunch of biographies from Mr. Nussbaum's site on American Peoples. His site is AWESOME! Seriously, if you haven't been there, RUN. Tons of great ideas and free activities to help you out. He covers all of the topics, so check it out. I laid the choices out on the floor and let them pick someone they were interested in.

My students were told to really concentrate on the period of their person's life that covered the years of the Revolution. That way they could narrow down their topic. I gave them a graphic organizer to use to help organize their notes. I had this great sheet that helped them break down the introductory paragraph better. I will look tomorrow to see if I can find it. But it basically had them focusing on their hook and summarizing the rest of their paper without giving too much away.

After the writing was done, I let them at the hangers. I have a ton of scrapbook paper from my previous creative life that they can rifle through to make their people. The tricky part was trying to get the head to stay on the hooky part of the hanger. Since the shoulders went over the upper edges of the triangular shape, I had to take the tape dispenser away from them and show them how to fold over a piece of paper to glue down on the back of the head with the hanger sandwiched between.

I had to send a few back to the drawing board to make their people 'more authentic'. They were starting to look like just some random person. I had them think what they could add to their person to show who they were. That's when they came up with adding in the Declaration and a quill pen for Mr. Jefferson. One of my girls added a huge snowball for Crispus Attucks from the Boston Massacre. Much better!

The project came out great. I just wish my class could complete these things a little faster. They take a long time for everything. I'm hoping my lesson on Jon Scieska's Battle Bunny will really spark some engines to race tomorrow!

Here's a shot of a few of my hanger people: