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.