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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Raising butterflies

This was such a good bit of fun, I just have to share it here even though we did it a few months ago. The girls were given money for Christmas so we used it to buy an Insectlore Butterfly Garden. The netted butterfly enclosure was delivered with instructions and a voucher code to order the caterpillars.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis

Here are the caterpillars when they arrived. One hadn’t hatched yet. They grew scarily big rather quickly. I wish I’d taken a picture of the massive caterpillars. Definitely a real-life illustration of The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

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Eventually, they crawled to the top of the cup and hung in “J” shapes, growing cocoons. I’ve made this image black and white to spare you the caterpillar poo.

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Giving all the caterpillars time to go into cocoons and for their cocoons to harden, we transferred the disc at the top of the cup to the butterfly garden, pinning it to the netting.

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It was hard to believe that something was actually going to happen to be honest. I was so paranoid that somehow it wouldn’t “work”! But then one morning, we came down and there was fully formed butterfly, drying its wings.

Talitha, then 3 going on 4, was absolutely mesmerised by the whole thing but so was I. How could our caterpillars have become something so different? It was like observing a miracle.

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We gave our butterflies fruit and sugar water to eat.

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The only thing I would have done differently is line the bottom of the enclosure with kitchen roll as the instructions suggested because the new butterflies expel a lot of red meconium and it’s sticky stuff.

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We kept a magnifying glass next to the cup and the garden to observe the caterpillars/butterflies through the entire process. When they’d all emerged, Talitha decided to draw them. We also printed and laminated a life cycle poster from Twinkl to refer to while we talked about what was happening.

Finally, it was time to release our butterflies since I didn’t want to have to care for LOTS of new caterpillars.

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We’ll definitely do this again. We can keep the butterfly garden and keep ordering new cups of caterpillars or we might even just try bringing some in from the garden (along with whatever plant we find them on).

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