A Sweet Education in Chocolate: 16 Chocolate-Based Educational Activities

April 21st, 2014 by Dionna | Leave a comment
Posted in Children, Eclectic Learning

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A Sweet Education in Chocolate

For one of the recent sessions of our local homeschool cooperatives, I led a semester-long class called A Sweet Education in Chocolate. The class description read:

Love chocolate? You’ll love this class! We’ll look at the history of chocolate (where is it grown? how is it made?), we’ll read books about chocolate (fiction and non-fiction), we’ll use chocolate to delve into several areas of learning (math, science, art, and more), and we’ll make and eat chocolate together.

The kids – ages six through ten – all had so much fun during each class. Here are some of the activities I found to do with the kids each week. Their favorites were almost always related to making – whether it was the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit from Glee Gum or the easy knock-off Thin Mints. Feel free to use or modify any of these activities for your own group!

1. How Words Help Us Imagine Stories: A Chapter from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I started this class by asking the kids, “When you read a book, what do you think about in your head? Do you ever try to picture what the author is describing? What helps you do that?” We then read Chapter 15 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Willy Wonka and the kids first walk into the Chocolate Room. As I read through the chapter, the kids drew pictures of what they imagined the room looked like. After reading, we talked about all of the words that helped us imagine and draw.

2. Using Chocolate to Identify Parts of Speech

After reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we took the words we’d listed and categorized them into lists of nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. We talked about the function of each of those four parts of speech in sentences. Then, we tried to think of words related to chocolate and put them in lists under the correct part of speech. Once we’d run out of words, we got some dark and milk chocolate out to taste, then added more words to our list after examining and eating the chocolate.

3. Chocolate Mad Libs

Using your newfound knowledge of the parts of speech, create a few chocolate-themed mad libs, letting kids fill in the parts of speech they know. Tip: make a few of the blanks names – kids get a big kick out of personalized stories.

4. Chocolate Tree Art

Ask kids to imagine where chocolate comes from. Have kids talk about it together – does chocolate come from the ground? Is it from a plant? What kind of plant? Let the kids draw pictures of what they think chocolate plants might look like. Then, using pictures, describe what a chocolate tree looks like. Use as many descriptive adjectives as possible to tell the kids what the tree and the cacao pods look like, and ask the kids to draw a cacao tree based on your description. When they are finished, let them look at pictures of cacao trees and see how your description matched up to the real thing.

5. How Chocolate is Made

Looking at a map of the world, visit with kids about the equator and the “chocolate belt” where cacao trees grow best. Find a video and/or books that gives kids an idea of how chocolate is grown and harvested. We enjoyed the Super Natural Adventures “How Chocolate is Made” on YouTube, and we checked out several books from the library, including The Story of Chocolate and Chocolate: A Sweet History.

Chocolate Kit

6. Make Chocolate with Glee Gum’s Make Your Own Chocolate Kit

Glee Gum has an educational activity-packed resource in their Make Your Own Candy Kits. The Make Your Own Chocolate Kit comes with enough fair trade ingredients to make about 20 chocolates. The ingredients include cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and whole cacao beans, so we had a great discussion about how cacao beans are separated to make all of these different things. The kids were also excited to try a real cacao bean (the folks at Glee Gum throw some in just for fun).

There are other lesson ideas included in the Kit and on Glee Gum’s site for kids who are a little older than my crowd was, so be sure to check them out.

The kit makes chocolate-making easy and fun. The directions were simple enough for the kids to follow with minimal supervision. And the chocolate itself was delicious. We tried it plain and with various mix-ins (coconut, almonds, and cranberries).

Glee Chocolate 3

7. The Rainforest

Because cacao trees grow well in the rainforest, we spent some time learning more about rainforests and how important they are. We talked about the different layers of the rainforest, what animals live there, and how rainforests are being destroyed. We read several books, including Rainforest (24 Hours) and People of the Rainforest. I brought in our old National Geographic Kids magazines, and we cut out pictures of animals, plants and insects that live in the rainforest, then we created a rainforest display on butcher paper.

8. What Tastes Good with Chocolate?

What kinds of foods and flavors pair well with chocolate? Brainstorm and research a list of all of as many different types of chocolate foods as you can find. We made and tasted chocolate covered bacon and chocolate hummus.

9. Design Your Own Chocolate Bar

How do companies market their chocolate? What do different chocolate bar wrappers look like? What colors and words do companies use to entice consumers to buy them? What would your ideal chocolate bar contain? Create your own unique chocolate bar and design the wrapper.

10. Graphing with M&M’s

Provide a basic explanation of what a graph is and how to make one. Give each student some M&M’s and ask them to create a simple bar graph on graph paper. What other ways could they show how many M&M’s they have?

11. Chocolate Poll

Create a survey question about chocolate (i.e., what is your favorite kind of chocolate to eat – cake, cookies, ice cream, or candy?). Have kids ask several friends and family members to answer the survey question, then compile all of the information into a graph.

12. Chocolate Math Games

I adapted several games from Number Jugglers to play with the kids, using M&M’s in addition to the cards. We played Number Ladder, the Equation Game, and the Make a Number Game.

Chocolate Haiku

13. Chocolate Poetry

With sweet inspiration, we learned about and wrote our own haikus, acrostic poems, and concrete poems. We read Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys and Shape Me a Rhyme.

14. Chocolate Art

Using melted dark and white chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder, and various fun art supplies (pom poms, glitter, etc.), we created chocolate works of art.

15. Create Your Own Chocolate Board Games

Kids can use so much imagination and creativity by creating their own board games. I bought used board games at thrift stores, brought in a variety of random art supplies and recyclables, and let the kids go wild repurposing everything. Their only direction was to have chocolate play some part in their games (as a piece, a theme, a reward, or otherwise).

16. Kid-Friendly Chocolate Recipes

There are tons of recipes available that kids can do with minimal supervision. We loved this easy thin mint recipe (we also tried it with white chocolate, no peppermint). A few more possibilities include chocolate raspberry avocado pudding, chocolate mousse, and chocolate brownies.

More Chocolate Activity Resources

Need even more sweet chocolatey inspiration? Take a look at some of these sites and boards.

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Photo Credits:
A Sweet Education in Chocolate adapted (added words) with permission from John Loo via Flick Creative Commons

Chocolate Haiku adapted (added words) with permission from Christopher Paquette via Flick Creative Commons

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