Wanted: Willy, Charlie, Oompa Loompa, Veruca etc…

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Lorena Cardenas

I’ve got four golden tickets. What do you get in a classroom that discusses literature? You get students completely engaged in novels. Just like adults, students should have a chance to make ample and relevant connections between themselves and the characters in the story.   In 18 years of teaching, I have observed that there is more student interest when given literature that enables them to make real world connections with the opportunities to share with peers. This enables the students to have a “risk free” learning environment and encourages them to want to share more.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl has been one of my favorite novels to use in my third grade class; I have read it to my students for the past 16 years. There are several activities my students have enjoyed after reading the entire novel.  In these activities classroom talk is a must, and the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is implemented (rigor).

Wanted Signs

im1147Students are placed in collaborative groups, usually in groups of three. Students pick a character from the novel (Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, Augustus Gloop, and an adult male or female Oompa Loompa). Before their creation, students gather in literacy groups to discuss and agree on their ideas. Each student must have a role (group facilitator, summarizer, questioner etc…). Students create a “wanted” sign with an illustration of the character. The illustration should be created using textual evidence for the perfect description of their character. The sign must include the reason why the character is wanted, and the reward they would give. They can create a made up phone number to call or a made up website.   When all signs are finished, students may display their work to create a gallery walk. Here the students can evaluate each other’s work with sticky notes.

Four Corners

In this activity, the teacher displays any four characters students select to discuss. The teacher places the names on the corner of the classroom. Students walk to the corner, to the character they can relate to or wish they could be like. Every student must be accountable to share their thoughts. Students use a “talking chip (bingo chip) to express their thoughts. The talking chip is placed in a container that is located in each corner. The teacher facilitates the discussion to probe some higher order thinking.

Take a Stand

im2In the novel Willy Wonka rewards the naughty children with a lifetime supply of chocolate. One side of the classroom will be that they agree with Wonka, and the other side will disagree. Students choose the side they prefer, but must justify why. Again, each student must be accountable for the discussion (talking chips may be used). If some students are undecided, the students stay in the middle of the classroom. It is the job of the others to persuade the undecided students to join their side.


jigsawIn this activity, reading objectives can be addressed. Place students in a “home group,” then give a skill (summary, problem solution, vocabulary words, connections, questioning) to one in each group. Each group, according their skill, will join the “expert group.”  The skill will be completed by the expert groups. Each student must be accountable for sharing their ideas. The teacher should facilitate to ensure that all students participate in completing their skill. When they have addressed their skill by writing their answers, they return to their home group to share the work. The teacher can announce, one at a time, for each skill to present. Timing each presenter helps to keep students engaged and on task. Using the jigsaw protocol will create the students as teachers of the objective instead of the teacher doing all the talking.

Of course, these activities lend themselves through varied types of literature. I used Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because not only is one of my favorite, it is a tale that can stand the test of time.