'Sweet' Activities Help Students See the Fun in Books

April 23, 2019

In one classroom, Pines Bridge students played bingo with chocolate kisses. In another, they played a memory game created with giant candy wrappers.  And down the hall, they took turns spinning cotton candy – and taking bites of the delicious treat.

It was all part of a special morning of activities sparked by the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – which is at the center of a “One School, One Book” literary effort now underway at Pines Bridge.  Teacher Lisa Giacomini-Essell, who is spearheading the effort, said having all students engage with the same book builds school spirit and showcases literary characters that bring joy to young people.
Giacomini-Essell said that staff worked hard to come up with creative activities that everyone could participate in and their effort paid off – judging from the smiles on students’ faces. “The kids had a great time,” she said. “There was definitely a sense of community as classes rotated throughout the school.”

Student Chris Taveras said he liked the morning of activities “because it was different and the games were creative.” Classmate Josh Prela said he enjoyed going into the different classes for the activities, which were spread among 12 Pines Bridge classrooms. With many of the games featuring characters or candies from the novel, students gained a better grasp of Charlie's wondrous adventures in Willie Wonka’s famous factory. The literary effort, which concludes this month, is also taking place at three classrooms at the Sunshine Children’s Home in Ossining, where Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES provides special education services to the home’s school-aged residents.

Since the project began, students have been doing a variety of literary and other activities related to the novel. Teachers have been reading the book aloud, showing portions of the movie, and giving candy-themed cooking and art lessons. All students entered a drawing, and five winners received “golden tickets” to a special lunch hosted by Principal Csilla Mate in March. Teachers have tailored the project so that it is appropriate for their students’ developmental and cognitive abilities.

This is the second year that Pines Bridge has engaged in One School, One Book, a program that is promoted nationally by the nonprofit Read to Them.

Photo: Students enjoy a morning of candy themed activities.