Today's book is one of my personal favorites. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl has been a favorite children's book for many years. The book is so much better than either of the movies- although I do like the movies as well.
Read my disclosure here. }
The setting and story of the book is fantasy, but the time period is in the mid-1900s, which is when the book was written. Charlie is a poor little boy that lives with his parents and four grandparents. The family lives in poverty, and one of the highlights of Charlie's life is the fact that he lives in a town with a mysterious famous chocolate factory- Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. The factory has been closed for years, but Charlie's Grandpa Joe seems to know quite a bit about the factory and talks to Charlie about it.
Willie Wonka surprises the town when he announces that the factory will be open for tours for the first time in years. There are five golden tickets that will be hidden in five chocolate wrappers. Winners begin to be found until only one ticket is left. Charlie's family sacrifices from their small means to get Charlie a traditional chocolate bar on his birthday. With baited breath, the family watches Charlie unwrap his candy. But...no luck. Eventually, however, Charlie does happen upon a ticket. And the rest of the book is all about the adventures that Charlie and his Grandpa Joe- who ventures out with him- find inside the chocolate factory.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory makes a good read aloud to use with older elementary-aged children. Younger ones may enjoy some of the funny and fantastical descriptions, but there are probably scenes from the book that younger ones just won't understand or that they may find frightening.
- Although Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fantasy book without a true historical setting, it was written during the Great Depression, and there are definitely some parallels between Charlie's life and the lives lived in poverty during the Great Depression. This website gives some good information about the Great Depression for kids, including a study packet that can be printed.
- Television as most kids of today know it wasn't exactly the same as the television that Mike Teavee watched all day every day. This site has some history of the television set for kids. And this video is short but has some great facts about the history of television as well as some pictures of past televisions.
Science and math connections...
- Watch this video to learn how chocolate is made- from the cocoa bean to chocolate candy.
- Many great inventions mysteriously appear out of the chocolate factory. Use these flashcards from Time for Kids to learn about some real life famous inventors.
- Winning the Golden Ticket is all about probability. Use this page from Math is Fun to talk about probability with the kids (and try some of the dice experiments for practice).
- One of my favorite Wonka inventions is the Fizzy Lifting Drinks. In honor of those drinks, read about the science of bubbles on this page and make some great bubble solution of your own.
Language arts connections...
- This story is a really good one to use to talk about the elements of a standard literary plot. This site has a good free printable plot chart as well as an explanation of the parts of the plot.
- Charlie and Grandpa Joe see some fantastical inventions inside the chocolate factory. For a creative writing activity, have children think of the invention they would like to see inside the chocolate factory. Write about what it is and what it does and illustrate it with a picture.
- There are definitely some interesting characters among the winners of the Golden Tickets. Use the free character analysis printable at this site to describe the five ticket winners.
- One thing that makes this story really interesting is the building of suspense throughout- especially when readers are waiting to see if Charlie wins a ticket. Read this page for a definition of literary suspense and then have kids point out examples of how this is used in the story.
- In honor of all things chocolate, make these simple, five-ingredient, molten lava cakes.
- Design your own special Golden Ticket wrapper. What would it look like?
- This post has instructions for making Wonka inspired playdo for making your own "candy" creations.
- Make your own lickable wallpaper with these instructions.
- The Roald Dahl website has all kinds of fun information about the book, the movies, and the author.
- Activity Village has a collection of printable worksheets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- This lapbook isn't free, but it was a great one that we used when we read the book.
- There are two movie versions of the book. Both have some elements that are pretty true to the book, but, as with any movie based off of a book, there are some differences. This is the classic 1970s version with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. And this is the more modern version with Johnny Depp as the chocolate guru.
- Roald Dahl has many other great kids' reads.
- Children of the Great Depression by Russell Freedman
- Potato: A Tale From the Great Depression by Kate Lied
- An Illustrated Timeline of Inventions and Inventors by Kremena T. Spengler
- 100 Inventions That Made History