Sweet like chocolate

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By Anne KeelingInternational Primary Curriculum

Mmmmmm… tickle those learning taste buds with a scrumptious cross-curricular topic

Ceri Hawkins, Year 4 teacher, Albert Primary School

Last term, Ceri Hawkins, Year 4 teacher at Albert Primary School in Penarth, South Wales, used IPC’s Chocolate unit for the very first time. Junior Ed PLUS asked her to keep a diary of her experience. Watch Ceri’s video or read on for some of her highlights

Week one

Today was the Entry Point for the Chocolate unit. What a fun day! We spent the whole time tasting. In the morning, we learned about the sense of taste and tried a variety of substances to measure our taste preferences and taste sensitivity. The children did some incredible work and were able to use the Venn-diagram skills they’d learned last term in numeracy to create some excellent results.

Today was our Knowledge Harvest for the Chocolate unit. I put the children into groups to make large, poster-size mind-maps of their present knowledge about chocolate. Not only were they mind-mapping their existing knowledge, but they were sharing new knowledge with each other; swapping facts and ideas and learning in the process.

They were also pulling knowledge from previous IPC units that they’d worked on. Many children were talking about the cocoa beans coming from the rainforests which they’d learned about during the IPC Rainforest unit they did last year.

Week two

The children are so much more globally minded since working on the IPC. They love finding out about other countries and are starting to get a good sense of the world. This week we looked at cacao plantations and the harvesting of the fruits. The children loved researching the plantations and their localities. This gave us the chance to discuss the issues of Fairtrade.

Today was a brilliant day. The children took a trip to Starbucks to find out about different drinking chocolates and how they are made. They had a wonderful time, tasting lots of different flavours, and asked great questions about where Starbucks gets their chocolate products from and whether they support Fairtrade. The people at Starbucks were impressed!

Week three

Today we started designing a new chocolate bar by researching chocolate wrappers. Everyone brought in loads of examples.We looked at all the information they feature, including ingredients, marketing slogans, the logo and imagery, colour, typeface, fonts, incentive offers, prices and nutritional information. Some children were really interested by the nutritional contents: it was a great opportunity to lay the foundations for their Year 5 work on percentages.

We’ve been working on our chocolate bar designs for a few days now. The creative ideas are very good. Two children went home and created designs on their computer in their own time.

Week four

The children did some superb collaborative writing linked to the Chocolate unit today. There are so many opportunities to incorporate literacy into the units and it gives the children purpose for their writing. I put them into groups and then read a description from Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man (Faber, £4.99 PB). The children then worked together to write stories about a man made from chocolate. We’re reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin, £5.99 PB) to link with the unit, too.

Week five

We have been investigating the Aztecs and how they created the first drinking chocolate. The children enjoyed role playing the story of Hernán Cortés and have recorded it in a picture story series, too. These were two good alternatives to traditional written recording and the results were very good. We have all loved working on the Aztecs and I wish there was more time to investigate them further.

Week six

Our final week of the Chocolate unit. Lots of exciting things to do. We’re making a group poster to advertise our chocolate bars, making our very own chocolate by melting milk chocolate and mixing it with a variety of dried fruit ingredients and we’re visiting the chocolate factory in Swansea. We were hoping to visit the factory at the beginning of the unit, but I think it’s working out even better going at the end. The children have a far greater understanding of what they will be seeing and hopefully will be able to apply some of their knowledge during the visit. I wonder if there’ll be any free samples? I just love the Chocolate unit!

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