This well-known book deals with several moral issues and some conventions. It is included within the Park Ridge, IL District 64 reading list for grade 3. The first set of exercises focus on the moral domain. The last exercise concerns social convention.
The following are exercises that focus on moral domain issues of equity, selfishness and responding to “bad” people
Evaluating the actions of the major characters.
This exercise allows students to get some perspective on why certain behaviors are unfair, while others are socially unappealing.
1. Ask the students to list the five children who found “golden tickets” and evaluate their personal characteristics.
a. Augustus Gloop – very fat and eats so much that he locates a ticket.
b. Veruca Salt – who is so rich she gets what she wants by screaming and demanding things from her parents.
c. Third ticket goes to a girl who chews gum all of the time and puts it behind her ear when she eats.
d. Mike Teevea who watches television all of the time.
e. Charlie Bucket, the main character
Be careful not to offer judgments as the teacher. Let the children sort this out.
1. Ask the children to describe the characteristics of each and rank order the children from least to most likable and why. You might assign one child per group as leader and recorder.
EXPECT THE CHILDREN TO DESCRIBE THE CHARACTERS IN TERMS OF BEHAVIORS AND NOT IN TERMS OF INTERNAL TRAITS OR VIRTUES. CHILDREN PRIOR TO ABOUT AGE 12 TREAT BEHAVIORS AS EQUIVALENT TO PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS.
2. Have the whole class then discuss the descriptions and ratings offered by the groups.
VERUCA SALT AND ABUSE OF POWER
This situation raises several important developmental issues relative to third graders’ morality. First, it pits individual goals against fairness. Second, it asks children to coordinate more than one perspective in arriving at a moral decision. Finally, it asks children to consider that a person could hold more than one emotional feeling at a time. This asks the children to face what is called, “The problem of will”, which is when your feelings of happiness at getting what you want are pitted against the sadness or discomfort at having gotten what you want at the expense of others.
Ask students to describe how Veruca Salt got her golden ticket.
a. What do you think of how Veruca Salt got her ticket?
b. Charlie said, “I don’t think the girl’s father played it quite fair..” (p. 31). What do you think was it fair for her father to use his employees to get it for her that way? How come?
c. But shouldn’t a father be able to help out his daughter?
d. How would you feel if you were in Veruca’s place? Wouldn’t it be okay to feel happy if you were her?
e. Do you think you would have any other feelings besides happiness in this case?
f. What should win out here, how happy a person would be to get what they want, or the feelings that you would have knowing that you got it unfairly? How come?
SHARING VERSUS PERSONAL PROPERTY
The issue of sharing is a complex one that has both developmental and cultural elements. The question is when and under what conditions you are obligated to share as opposed to when sharing is a matter of personal discretion.
Developmental issues: Children younger than age seven generally have a very difficult time with sharing since they are unable to fully coordinate two perspectives simultaneously. Discussions of sharing are very rich as sources of moral growth in grades K-2. The following examples are from grade 3. However, even older children can continue to work on the issue in order to consolidate their new ability to coordinate things and to go beyond strict equality.
One thing that makes sharing complicated is that the person who is posession of goods generally has a legitimate personal claim to those goods. So, sharing is not a simple moral issue, and our social messages to share, and that one should defend one’s entitlements, and that one should not expect things from others, make this all very confusing for children.
CHARLIE AND THE CANDY BAR
THE TEACHER SHOULD ASK CHILDREN TO SUMMARIZE THE MAIN EVENTS OF CHAPTER 7. THEN S/HE SHOULD GIVE THE FOLLOWING SUMMARY TO CHILDREN IN GROUPS TO WORK ON ISSUES.
Charlie’s family is quite poor. For his birthday they buy him a WONKA’S WHIPPLE-SCRUMPTIOUS FUDGEMALLOW DELIGHT candy bar. When Charlie opens the wrapper, he finds that there is no golden ticket inside. He shrugs his shoulders and then says, “Here mother have a bit. We’ll share it. I want everybody to taste it.”
1. What do you think of what Charlie did here? Why do you think Charlie started to share his candy bar?
2. Should Charlie have to share his candy bar if he doesn’t want to?
3. It is his birthday present. Should he share his birthday present?
4. None of his family would accept any of his candy. Why do you think that is?
5. Suppose Charle had a much younger brother or sister, do you think he or she would have accepted the candy from Charlie? How come?
6. Charlie’s family is very poor, do you think that makes a difference in terms of what Charlie did? How come?
7. When are you obligated to share, and when is it optional? How can you you tell?
JUSTICE VERSUS VENGENCE
Children at this age have a moral perspective that defines justice in tit-for-tat terms. This why teacher’s should be careful not to simply allow children to determine punishments. The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book comes very close to simply feeding into those atavistic impulses of young children who like to see the moral ledger balanced in a very direct way. The goal here is to get children to begin to consider that vengeful justice may not be fair.
1. Ask students to list what happens to each of the four children (other than Charlie) while they are in the chocolate factory.
2. For each character have the students consider whether the punishment was fair, or not.
3. For Augustus Gloop ask the children to consider the following lines from the Oompa Loompa song:
This boy, who only just before
Was loathed by men from shore to shore,
This geedy brute, this louses ear,
Is loved by people everywhere!
For could hate or bear a grudge
Against a luscious bit of fudge?
a. Do you think it would be right to turn Augustus into fudge? Would that be fair?
b. How come Charlie asked if they were joking?
c. Why did his grandpa say, “At least I hope they’re joking don’t you?” (p. 86)
4. Do a similar sort of analysis with the children of the other characters. Veruca and her parents end up covered in garbage; Violet ends up permanently purple, Mike Teevea ends up stretched out to ten feet.
MODES OF DRESS (cleanliness)
Third grade children are at a point where they are negating conventions on the basis that there are exceptions. Manners seem arbitrary to children at this age. They are moving toward the view that manners are established by authorities to establish some concrete order to things.
From page 57
There’s not a moment to lose. You must start making preparations at once! Wash your face, comb your hair, scrub your hands, brush your teeth, blow your nose, cut your nails, polish your shoes, iron your shirt, and for heaven’s sake, get all the mud off your pants! You must be ready, my boy! You must be ready for the biggest day of your life!”
1. How come Grandpa Joe wanted Charlie to do all of those things?
2. Why does it matter how Charlie was dressed and how he looked?
3. What does it mean to dress up? When are we supposed to dress up? How come?
4. How should we dress when we go to school?
5. Should we be able to dress at school the same as when we play, or should we dress differently?
6. How about if we go out to a restaurant with our parents?
7. What does this saying mean?:
“Clothes make the person.”
8. Does that make sense?
9. What does it say about a person if they don’t dress up for special occasions? How come?
10. Shouldn’t you be able to dress the way that you want to?
11. When are you free to dress any way that you want, and when should you dress up? How come? How can you tell?