The sweetest thing

Miss 5 has been reading chapter books with me for a few months now (I have listed the books we have read so far, on the blog site, if you want to check them out), and we have slowly been making our way through Roald Dahls collection. The girls love the humour and silliness in his stories. I will admit to censoring some of the text on the fly, as I’m reading it to them. Some of Dahls dialogue is a little different to how we speak in our house, and not really what I want them to pick up. But for the most part we are all having a ball. I am enjoying reading these books as much as the girls. I read them myself, as a child, and I find them delightful in a whole new way, reading them as an adult.
We read everyday as part of our “schooling”. We have read books on Egypt, both non-fiction and fiction, we read recipe books, we read articles in the paper and online. But we also read for pleasure, for nothing other than entertainment. Usually we do this before bedtime, as part of the girls’ winding down and getting ready to turn in for the night. I also read to them over breakfast most days, and sometimes they’ll ask to read during our “quiet time” when Miss 11 months is having her afternoon nap. So we have already read The BFG and The Witches, and for the last couple of weeks we have been reading Charlie and the Chocolate factory. And in reading this I have watched something truly inspiring. My girls – both Miss 5 and Miss 2.5 wholly engaging in the story. Miss 2.5 can recite the name of all of the characters in the story. She is fascinated with Veruca Salt and all of her demands 🙂 Miss 5 can’t get enough of Willy Wonka, she thinks he’s just about the smartest man in the world XD As I watched and listened to the girls, I noticed more and more that their play, and their drawings, and just their everyday conversations were involved with the story on some level. Even listening to them jumping on the trampoline, I could hear them singing and chanting a tune they had made up, about the characters in the story. So seeing this, I embraced a week of learning everything chocolate!
Miss 5 has designed her own chocolate bar “Dad’s chocolate”. We did a creative writing/art exercise where I asked her to imagine she was a character in the book, and tell me a Story about that person. Being infatuated with Mr Wonka, she dictated a story about him building a room in his factory with a giant chocolate slide. Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas decided to have a competition to invite children to the factory to see all their hard work. This brought up new words for her vocabulary illustrated and prequel being two of them 🙂 once I had scribed the story, we stapled it together and she illustrated the finished product. We have had a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory quiz, she has coloured in her favourite characters, watched the movie (yes we watch TV as part of our “school”. Watching the movie, apart from being fun, gave us an opportunity to discuss whether the book was the same as the movie – and then the differences and why we thought they weren’t in the movie. We also discussed things like props and actors and their role in making movies believable. And when it boils down to it, we spent 2 hours cuddled on the couch, simply being together), and, finally, as we were nearing the end of the story, I planned CHOCOLATE DAY!!
Our Chocolate Day started watching you tube clips on how chocolate is made. Miss 5 learned about the cacao tree, and the beans. She watched a few different clips and saw how the beans are processed both by native cultures in South America as well as western cultures in factories. We looked up Venezuela and Costa Rica, the countries in the clips, on the map. She learned the difference between dark, milk and white chocolate and she watched how chocolate is poured into moulds for the purpose of adding a filling. When she felt she was ready, we got dressed, and drove down to the beautiful Swan Valley, about 30 mins from our house. There we visited The Margaret River Chocolate Factory. The chocolate factory offers free entry and free tasting of dark, milk and white beans. It has a viewing window, so the children could watch the chocolatiers making the days sweets. It also has a screen close to that window which plays a short film about chocolate and the chocolate factory. It also has a shop, a cafe and a large grassed area for the children to run off the sugar 😉 We tasted, we wandered, we watched. Miss 5 and Miss 2.5 enjoyed a chocolate ice cream, and made friends with a small group of children who were also enjoying the day. “Socialising” is something that seems to concern everybody, except us 😉 The group played together for about 45 minutes, running around, rolling on top of each other like puppies, and exploring the small creek off to the side of the property. I had to wipe the mud off my girls feet, as well as the chocolate off their faces before we could walk back through the store, to the exit. It was bliss.
On our return home, we made rocky road. My girls don’t eat a lot of sweets as a general rule. Things like chocolate and ice cream are very much special treats. So you can imagine what an awesome day “chocolate day” was. The day finished with the last chapter of the story, and their very first try of hot chocolate. Miss 5 doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, and didn’t really like the drink, although she scooped the marshmallows out and enjoyed them. Miss 2.5, who does have a huge sweet tooth, must have had enough by then, as she didn’t finish her drink either.
What a wonderfully sweet week it was for us. And a great example of following the interests of the children, having fun, being together, and still learning.

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