Curious characters and adventures into other-worldly environments, there is no wonder children are still captivated by the stories of Roald Dahl, years on from when they were first published. Each tale spun by this award-winning author centres on a highly relatable role model child who is often faced with all sorts of whimsical tribulations. At the core of each story, though, lies a more realistic message of bravery, loyalty, friendship, and growth, which is why Road Dahl’s novels make excellent reading material in school.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one such story that you may choose to cover in your literacy curriculum. If so, there are plenty of resources and activity ideas available to help you make this literacy journey even more fun for your students.
Find more Roald Dahl teaching resources here.
First, let’s talk about what is undoubtedly the most exciting aspect of this book for any child: chocolate. The motif of chocolate in the story of Willy Wonka can provide the basis for any number of different activities across all sorts of subjects, not only English. Here are some ideas.
Observe the Changing State of Chocolate
This Twinkl downloadable worksheet shows a simple experiment that young students can conduct with a piece of chocolate. By holding the chocolate and counting down the seconds, children are able to observe how it changes state under heat. Use this as a foundation activity to introduce the children to cause and effect. You could then move on to conduct experiments to see what can cause the chocolate to melt more quickly or slowly. If your students practice lots of data collection and recording in science consider investing in some data loggers. Using a Vu+ Data Logger will help children get accurate readings of different temperatures while growing accustomed to using data-collecting technology.
Chocolate and Sweets Experiments
Little Bins Little Hands lists ten chocolate and sweets experiments for kids in primary school. These activities are designed to test kids observation skills, fine motor skills, and creativity. Hands-on tasks like making edible pudding slime are ideal for younger kids to bring into messy play with tuff trays. Popping candy and chocolate bar five sense taste tests allow little ones to think about the differences and similarities between treats based on deduction through their five senses (getting to eat the treats is definitely a bonus!).
For a more advanced activity, task students with STEM challenge, creating a structure out of gumdrops, or fruit pastilles, and cocktail sticks.
Make up Your Own Sweet Creations
In the story, Charlie and the other children discover all kinds of weird and wonderful inventions Willy Wonka is working on in his factory. Put your students’ creativity to the test in a way they might not have tried before, and task the class with inventing their own sweet creation. This will go down well as the children can sample different flavours to see which ones might go together. Help the kids build confidence and try new combinations, even if they sound silly. Chocolate and cheese? Maybe it’ll be a new craze!
A good project for creating a brand new sweet could be to have the children make their own chocolate bars. Grab some chocolate moulds, or you could even use old washed plastic biscuit trays from biscuit packaging. Give each child a mould with melted chocolate and offer a table of different toppings to scatter over their mould. Once the chocolate has set, break it into pieces and arrange a taste test where the winner can be decided.
Find lots of other childrens’ chocolate recipes on the BBC website, perhaps you could try one of these or even ask the students to pick one to make with an adult at home.
If you’re not keen on giving your students lots of sugar to sample, they could craft some pretend chocolate bars with modelling clay or plasticine.
Using Literary Skills
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exposes students to a huge range of different literary devices, creative writing inspiration and opportunities to learn new literacy skills in primary school. Here are a few ideas.
Use the story of Charlie as a starting point for some creative writing. Ask the children to think about everything happening in the story and try to look at aspects of the plot from different perspectives. They could:
- Choose one of the other characters and rewrite a scene from their perspective. What would they have been thinking and feeling? What sorts of words would they use to describe their thoughts? What would they be thinking about other characters?
- Willy Wonka takes the children and their parents on a tour of the chocolate factory. Ask the children to try and think of any other rooms in the factory they might not have seen. Can they come up with another room where a different sweet creation is being made? What would it look and sound like? Maybe they could even think about the staff canteen in the factory and what the OomahLoompahs would be doing at lunchtime.
- Willy Wonka’s recipes were sometimes stolen by spies. Task the students with writing a spy report on what they had seen in the factory. See if they can pay attention to how a report should be laid out and what might need to be included. They could also make up a stolen recipe and write out the ingredients list and the steps.
Our Writing Prompt Cubes are useful for getting kids started with creative writing. Hand out these dice and get the students to roll them, then use whichever prompt they end up with. Prompts include “if I could fly I would...”, “I was most embarrassed when”, and “one day I want to visit...” and many more.
Download a selection of six Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lesson plans for KS2 from Puffin. Each lesson focuses on a theme, for example, identity; and a literacy and PSHE objective. Each lesson includes an extract and preparation notes with activities to lead the class.
Discovering New Words
Roald Dahl is known for coming up with unusual new names for people and things in his stories. You might want to use this as an opportunity to help the children learn how to find synonyms, and give them the skills to broaden their vocabulary. This is a perfect library school activity if you can take your class on a trip to the library.
Prepare a list of words from the book for the children to investigate. Try to include a selection of made-up and non-made-up words and mix them together. Tell the children they need to figure out whether each word is real or made-up. If it’s real they have to find out what it means and write down the meaning from the dictionary. The students can either use the book to find the meanings of the made-up words or use a computer to search them online. You could ask the students to find similar words using a thesaurus for the non-made-up ones and try to think of similar words for those which are made up.
Maybe they could even do a piece of creative writing afterwards trying to include all of the words. Or you could task them with making up their own words to describe things.