Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for younger children

This post was originally published in November 2015. It reappears here in collaboration with million eyez.

We’ve just finished a happy romp through the wonderfully bizarre world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Having realised from page one that this chapter book was going to be a hit, I gathered a few ideas for activities we could try alongside it. For my four-year-old, it was delightful to dig deeper into the experience of the story. For my 21-month-old, it meant she didn’t keep trying to pull the book out of my hand or take me some place else.

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Make a family tree
The book opens by orderly naming the people in Charlie Bucket’s family. I’d been wanting to do a family tree for a while so we took the opportunity to print out photos, cut and stick them and draw lines to show relationships. I helped Talitha with ours but she went on later on to draw Charlie Bucket’s family tree on her own.

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Sweetie Swoop game
We’ve been having fun with the whole sweetie theme by playing a board game called Sweetie Swoop which Talitha got for her birthday this year. It nicely accompanies chapter 11 where he goes into the sweet shop. It’s such fun. In general board games and card games are a brilliantly easy way to develop maths skills while doing something together that we both enjoy.

Drink hot chocolate
When you finally make it inside the chocolate factory, meeting the chocolate river calls for a drink. Preferably one offered in a cup by Mr Willy Wonka and not risking falling in!

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Make playdough sweets
Most of the time we read, we got out the playdough. Talitha made playdough sweets and both girls generally had fun squishing and making while listening to the story.

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The Inventing Room
This was an idea I came across on The Imagination Tree when looking for birthday party ideas. I put together an “inventing room” the night before which was the source of much excitement and creativity. I wish I’d taken more pictures because she got the stapler out and put together some 3D sweets later in the day.

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Make real sweets
Of course, who can read about all these amazing sweets and not want to munch something sweet. Better yet, make some! We tied this in with learning about Diwali by making coconut barfi. They were too sweet for the girls, though, so I wonder if we should have gone for biscuits in sweetie shapes instead.

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Play with fizz
All the experimentation you observe in the Mr Willy Wonka’s factory certainly tickles the imagination. The science fiction elements of this book are the bits that shine brightest. Talitha was quite taken with the fizzy lifting drinks that make you float upwards unless you burp to come down again. Inspired by this fizzy fun experiment, we got the muffin tin out and had a messy go (should have put a tray underneath as suggested in that post, mind!).

Here are few more ideas I came across but we didn’t get around to:

Make lickable wallpaper
Pipe cleaner lollipop craft
Chocolate play dough recipe

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I’d love if we could share our ideas on how to help kids get into books and this million eyez Photobox offers the perfect medium. With million eyez you can start a photo box in a topic to receive authentic photos you can’t find, just as I’m hoping to do here, curating, communicating and organising to cleverly crowd source what you need. Just upload your photo of your literary kids activity, whether it’s a dress up, craft, baking, creative writing prompt or invitation to play. Let’s inspire each other!

via million eyez

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This homeschooling life – What May looked like

Writing these monthly summaries always feels a little odd because I could never include everything that’s happening. Home education really is a whole life pursuit. I find it helpful to look back on some of the highlights, though, and I really enjoy getting glimpses at what other home educating families get up to. Here’s what the month of May looked like for us.

This homeschooling life - May-9

Deeper interests
Dinosaurs have continued to be a strong theme here. It started with watching Dinosaur Train on Netflix and has gone far beyond that into books and museum trips, looking for answers on the Internet, weighing up conflicting information and lots and lots and lots of drawing.

I got Talitha a dinosaur activity pack from Usborne and she’s been enjoying making her way through them, absorbing all the dinosaur facts and insisting we do the crafts, including dinosaur cards as invitations for her birthday party.

I suggested we start writing her questions down in a book so we remember to look for the answers. We covered a little exercise book with paper and she’s drawn dinosaurs on both sides. Sometimes she writes in it, other times she dictates to me and I write in it.

She’s also asking lots of questions about how the human body works so we’ve been looking at books and spending time in the body section of At Bristol Science Centre at her request. I’m struck that these themes are not so much about actual details of what she’s learning but that she’s learning how to learn. That makes having more facts than I can absorb quoted at me before I’ve had my morning coffee more than worth it.

This homeschooling life - May-2

New routines and rhythms
Laurence was away working in London for a lot of May, which always drives me to keep a lot more to a routine than I normally would. This time, it’s made life so enjoyable we’ve kept it up – mostly anyway.

It’s all stuff we were doing anyway but actually giving things a time of day has just helped everything run more smoothly, whether it’s gardening, cooking or reading.

We read a children’s Bible and pray together over breakfast most mornings, followed by a chapter book. Then Talitha observes her cherry tomato plant. This started as a little activity I took along to our home ed group for a food theme but she’s really got into it. She draws it, measures it, observes it and writes her observations down. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll keep it up, though, as her interest seems to be waning so we may plot a height graph soon and maybe just keep a height chart once we’ve re-potted it in the greenhouse, which will be this week.

This homeschooling life - May-4

Our caterpillars from Insectlore also arrived this week, so they’re keeping an eye on them with their magnifying glasses and we’re all getting a thrill out of watching them grow, sometimes seeming to double overnight! They’re getting ready to build their cocoons right now so both girls are extremely excited. They’ve even named them: Susie, Tiss-Tiss, Tree and I can’t remember the other two.

The biggest change has been re-organising their play room. I’ve been decluttering and working at making everything accessible, easier to find and easier to put away. It’s made a huge difference to the way they operate in that space now and the things they find to do on their own. I’ll write more about this when I put together a post on the playroom soon. I just want to re-paint and do a last bit of sorting first.

This homeschooling life - May-8

We’ve also really enjoyed taking life outside this month as it’s been so sunny. A parasol sent to us by Homebase from their garden furniture range has allowed us not only to comfortably eat lunch and read outside – making both feel like a treat too! – but drawing and more structured activities have taken to the garden table too as a result. It’s a brilliant blue and has given us yet another reason to welcome the sunny weather.

This Homeschooling Life - May

What we’re using

She’s pretty obsessed with her Alphablocks magazines so I’ve been keeping the one she’s working on in a folder with the tomato plant observation sheets so she always knows where it is and that’s usually what we do next, as long as we’re not rushing out to something in the morning. If we are, she comes back to it in the afternoon. Ophelia gets busy with stickers and pens or the toy kitchen, a puzzle or dressing up while I’m helping her with this.

Talitha also asked for more books that she could read on her own so I got her the first set of Oxford Reading Tree books. She’s flown through them and loves reading them to Ophelia so I’m about to order the next set.

Most afternoons we get the Spielgaben out, either to just build together and play, counting things and talking about what we notice or using the printed resources that come with it. Talitha has asked for something like Alphablocks but for numbers, though, so I printed a few lessons from MEP and we’re going to see how that goes. For Ophelia, I’ve been using some Montessori ideas from blogs with the Spielgaben, which she’s loving, often changing the rules entirely and finding creative ways to use objects that I would never have considered.

What we’re reading

This month we’ve read Firwood – The Magic Garden, a real treat for Talitha because she met the author in Waterstones and had the book signed. I felt like not much happened in it before it got overly exciting towards the end but Talitha loved it the whole way through and has requested other books in the series. We also read Gerald Durrell’s The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure which tied in perfectly with her dinosaur obsession. His books are gripping, beautifully written and take you through so many ideas. We both enjoyed it as much as the prequel, The Fantastic Flying Adventure.

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What we’ve been making
While sorting the playroom, Talitha discovered some light catchers she was given by her godmother a couple of years ago. She’d done some but there were a few left to paint with acrylic paints. When she ran out of sun catchers, she didn’t seem done so I offered her some little canvases I’d found. Putting acrylic to canvas proved a real thrill. It was fascinating seeing her work out what she could do with a new medium. We looked at acrylic paintings around our house and talked about how the artists use space on the canvas. Ophelia had a go too.

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Last reflections
This month I’ve been struck that I’m constantly learning to strike a balance with the way I get involved in the things they’re doing. On one hand, I do want to remind them about what they wanted to do and encourage them to complete and keep at stuff. On the other, I don’t want to exert too much control over what’s happening and stifle the process.

I’ve also been amazed at the huge developmental leaps Ophelia is taking. She’s obsessed with colours, counting everything, building, putting together puzzles and has started to connect sounds to letters. She’s particularly excited to point out “O”, never failing to tell you that that’s her letter.

Above all, I love seeing my girls together and am grateful for the extended uninterrupted time that home education has given us.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. If you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This Homeschooling Life – What January looked like

January has been a strange month. I say that, but with regard to home education, all of our months have been different anyway. I spent half of it still feeling the heavy weight of pregnancy symptoms and the second half being stuck down with what I can only assume actually was the flu, because its still lingering. It’s meant that we haven’t been up to as much as we usually are and after the chaos of Christmas, I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty about that.

I especially felt it last week when we got back into a routine of practising phonics using the Alphablocks Reading Programme we’d set aside for a while. Talitha’s mind is so absorbent and she picks up and retains more complex sound combinations easily now. That should have delighted me but instead I felt guilty for not being more consistent with following the programme. Her reading is coming along so well but there’s always that irrational niggle that says, “Would she be further along by now if she were at school?” And then I remember, she is only four, for goodness sake. There is absolutely no rush. And there’s no need for me to compare her time at home with what happens in a system we’ve chosen to opt out of.

Mostly we’ve just been reading. We’ve been loving Little House in the Big Woods
, which we gave Talitha for Christmas. Nothing really “happens” yet we are both transfixed by it. For me, I’m intrigued by their self-sufficient lifestyle. For her, it’s all about a little girl who lived in a world of bears and panthers and got to make things (even if these things are bullets and butter!). I planned lots of fun activities to go with reading it, like making paper dolls and smoking meat but we haven’t got around to any of it yet! We’re not done reading it yet, though so maybe this month.

Where I haven’t been able to offer more input at times, she’s enjoyed playing, on her own, with her sister and with friends. Indoors and out. She’s gone ahead with creating. Always making something with paper and scissors, glue, tape and junk. Always drawing. Always asking questions. Always wanting to help me with whatever I’m doing.

The other day she suggested we do face painting while Ophelia was sleeping. I painted a butterfly on her face and she painted flowers on mine. Then she wanted to create a story about a butterfly and some flowers for us to act out. We each added parts of the story for “our show”, involving one of the cats as a character. She then suggested that she’d draw the story and write it down. With help, that’s exactly what she did, though we had a bit of brainstorm figuring out how to summarise it in a sentence.

On the weekends and on his days off, Laurence has been doing lots with the girls, whether it’s taking them outdoors somewhere new or just pottering around in the garden. He and Talitha took photographs of a nearby beach the other day and I came downstairs to find them each sketching from one of their shots. This Saturday, they spent a lot of time with a map, checking out the beach we were going to cook lunch on and when we got there, they referred to it again and it was exciting how much she understood from it.

This is something we’ve been talking more about, recently. How can each of us bring our skills and experience to the table with home educating? Something like looking at a map or creating one wouldn’t thrill me. I also wouldn’t find it particularly easy. If we did it, it would be purely for her benefit. On the other hand, it’s a natural thing for him to do with her.

We’ve been doing some bits around Chinese New Year more recently. We’ll be going to a big celebration at a local Chinese supermarket (complete with dragon dance) so in preparation, we’ve been reading books about Chinese New Year, crafts, watching videos and putting up our display.

Spielgaben

Another January highlight has been finally getting our hands on a Spielgaben set. It’s essentially a huge set of beautifully made, non-toxic, environmentally sustainable wooden toys which are divided into sets and come with activity guides for play, creativity and mathematics. They’re “manipulatives” in Maths speak. The set appealed to me because I wanted a system with everything in one place to help us approach maths in a physical, practical way and this looked like a lot of fun.

So far, they girls have played with the sets freely and Talitha has done a few of the activities. We’ve started doing them “in order” but before I read the guides, we were just dipping in and out and she came across these 3D shapes she wanted to build. Naturally we got talking about the different between cubes and cuboids and how many faces a pyramid has. The great thing so far is that it’s something that Ophelia can do alongside us, even though she’s not doing anything structured with the pieces. I’m looking forward to delving more into it.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Beautiful Tribe
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



This Homeschooling Life – November

That time’s rolled around again to look back at what we’ve been up to as a home educating family.

This has been a month of contrasts. At the start of the month, we got up to quite a lot of in terms of organised activities but things got looser as the days passed as I’ve not been feeling well and Ophelia’s going through a rough patch sleepwise. Actually, that mix suited us just fine. That’s one of the brilliant things about home educating, slowing down is not a problem when life calls for it.

Time for the highlights:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Activities for kids
Falling in love with chapter books
We’ve dipped in and out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the past but my four-year-old enjoyed it but didn’t seem to quite follow it so having read quite a lot of the book, we shelved it. Then a friend suggested My Father’s Dragon and that was a blast.

On the hunt for the next winner, I picked up a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was clear from the start that it would be a hit so I themed some activities for us to do alongside it. Check out my list of Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for young children.

We’re fully into The Magic Faraway Tree now – such a trippy book and already well-loved.

The tricky thing about reading longer books is finding ways to engage Ophelia while we’re reading so I often wait until she’s having a nap but she doesn’t nap that reliably at the moment (could be linked to the crazy nights above). So I’m often pulling out something for her to do or requesting cups of tea from the toy kitchen while we read.

Diwali in our home-8
Diwali
I totally forgot when I first published this post that we did loads around Diwali this month! And Bonfire Night of course! We made our own diyas and read and looked at lots about India and the Hindu festival of light. Diwali is a big deal in Trinidad and Tobago, where I’m from, so it was a chance to connect my kids with their heritage too. Here’s what we got up to on the day itself in my post, Diwali with my kids.

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Christmas decorations and other crafts
We made so many Christmas decorations this month. Personal favourites are these pipe cleaner beauties as both girls were able to do them.

We also rearranged the diningroom furniture, making the scrap box (an enormous chest full of recycling) accessible to the girls so they’ve been busy pulling things out and involving the most random objects in their games. Talitha has also been getting the glue and scissors out and making all sorts of amazing things from robots to play food, totally on her own.

On one hand, leaving them access to junk and art supplies makes for a lot of mess (the toddler scribbles on our walls speak the truth of this – thanks, Ophelia). On the other, the creativity, confidence and independence that emerges from it is well worth it. Now that most things have a place, they find it easier to help tidy up too.

Holiday in Madeira this homeschooling life november-2
We spent the last week of November in Madeira with Laurence’s parents and what a brilliant holiday that was. It’s not something that would have been doable if Talitha were in school (certainly not once she’s five) since the term’s still going, so I’m counting it as a home ed highlight.

Of course, being in Madeira raised so many fascinating questions about airports, airplanes, maps, climate, countries – you name it! Kids’ curiosity is primed for learning.

I hope to blog about it later this week, which may interest any families considering Madeira as a holiday destination.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing a week, a day or even just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Circus Queen
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up