This book was written 57 years ago! Have your students compare and contrast what life was like then and now. What are spectacles and boiled candy? Math was called arithmetic and kids played a game called "Grandmother's Footsteps"! Would your students want to live in a world like it was 50 years ago?
A Quick Synopsis of the Book
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling was written in 1952 and it is still a popular book to read to your students. It is version of the story of a king whose touch turned everything to gold. In this case, John Midas loves chocolate and, through some sort of magic, is suddenly able to turn everything that touches his lips to chocolate. Suddenly he has chocolate bacon, chocolate toothpaste and even a chocolate pencil! You may choose to read this close to a holiday when candy is involved—like Easter, Halloween, Christmas or Valentine’s Day. But it is also a good read when you are studying what life was like over fifty years ago.
Understanding New Words
Some vocabulary has changed over the last fifty years. With words chosen, have your students make a picture dictionary of the following words with today’s version of the word next to it:
spectacles (eye glasses), arithmetic (math), brigand (bandit), tonic (liquid vitamins),boiled candy (hard candy like lollipops), flibberty-jibberty (dizzy, mixed up) romping ( running and playing).
That Was Then; This is Now
As you read The Chocolate Touch, discuss some of the differences between then and now. Make a chart of then and now! The children can ask parents or grandparents for some other “then and now" things to add to the chart.
Here’s a quote from Chapter 5 in The Chocolate Touch, “Miss Plimsole (teacher) walked silently into the classroom. As soon as she appeared in the doorway, all the chattering and scuffling stopped. The twenty boys and girls sat straight in their chairs and looked straight ahead at the clean blackboard. ‘Good morning, children,’ Miss Plimsole said. ‘Good morning, Miss Plimsole,’ the class answered respectfully." How is classroom behavior different today?
In Chapter 7, John drinks milk at school from a small milk bottle. Today we have small milkcartons.
In Chapter 9 here are the games that the children, dressed in party clothes, played:
“Blindman’s Bluff", “Fox and Geese" and “Grandmother’s Footsteps". Have the children try to find more information about these games. Perhaps they can ask their grandparents about the kinds of parties that they had fifty years ago. What games do we play today?
A History-Writing Assignment
After your class has finished reading The Chocolate Touch students will have a writing assignment: What is the reason why you would/would not like to live in a world like it was fifty years ago.
To prepare students for this assignment, go to the local library or older relatives to borrow samples of music from fifty years ago, gather books newspapers magazines from fifty years ago. Invite a guest to talk to the class about the “good old days". It will be a wonderful time! And don't forget to serve chocolate!
Enhance the Lesson with Enrichment Options
Find out: How is chocolate made? What benefits are derived from chocolate?
Graph it: Survey 100 people in the school and ask them if they like chocolate. What are the favorite kinds of chocolate (white, dark, orange or milk chocolate) What is your favorite chocolate thing to eat?
The Chocolate Touch activities will make a sweet addition to the study of this popular book.