this october, we were lucky to receive a message from Beech Street School teacher Ashley Marshall, who told us about a unique lesson she developed that focuses on teaching students to write using sensory details. with the help of our crackling firecracker chocolate bars, each halloween she delights students with a sweet surprise. we thought this was such a unique idea, we invited her to share her creative lesson with you all.
"I first started doing this activity in Salem, OR. It began as a Halloween 'Trick or Treat,' made academic by writing using sensory details. From there, it became a tradition in 5th grade to do this writing prompt every Halloween.
Students are presented with a square of Chuao's Firecracker Chocolate Bar. They do not get to see the wrapper. They are first prompted to write what they see (brown, rectangle, whatever word is on their square, chocolate, etc.). Then, we move down to smell. Students can sniff the chocolate, but may not taste. They write down any seasonings or flavors they smell. Then they pick it up, and write how it feels.
Finally, when it comes time to taste it, students are prompted to be silent so they can write what it sounds like (because of the pop rocks in it). At this point, students put the chocolate in their mouths, and if quiet enough, the room erupts with the sound of pop rocks, in stereo. At this point, the kids go crazy.
They get the chipotle, the salt, the pop rocks, and a general sensory overload. Once they have calmed back down, they are prompted to add anything else about what they felt, what they tasted, and what they heard.
At the end of this portion, they get to write an advertisement for the chocolate (mind you, they aren't always in favor of it). This year, because I am in a different state with different curriculum, they are working on personal narratives. Instead of writing an advertisement, they will write their personal narrative of their first experience with Chuao's Firecracker Chocolate, including as many sensory details as fit in, while still writing their best narrative.
My students had a great time with this activity until the chocolate was gone and the writing had to be done (haha)!"
The lesson asks students to explain what they see, smell, touch, taste and hear. Some of the descriptions written by the students, as well as one student's personal narrative, are included below for your enjoyment.
Sight: brown, "giggle," "joy," chocolate
Smell: chocolate, sweet
Touch: smooth, dry, hard, melty
Taste: spicy, coffee, sour, bitter, sweet, salty
Sound: popping, crunching
Personal Narrative: I tried something new yesterday. It was surprising and confusing. When I looked at it, I thought it was a normal chocolate bar. It smelled like chocolate, too. But then it tasted so good, but at the same time it was spicy! And then it started popping in my mouth! It was surprising and confusing and people should definitely try it.