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Roald Dahl Project Ideas

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

These group projects will assist you in teaching your elementary students about British author Roald Dahl and will help develop their knowledge of his works, as well as improve their reading and writing skills.

Why Roald Dahl?

The British author Roald Dahl wrote some of the most popular children's books of the twentieth century. His experiences seeing the horrors of World War II through the lens of a fighter pilot may have colored his perceptions of life, and thus his books contain clever storylines blended with an often dark sense of humor.

Working collaboratively in groups is a good way for your students to better understand his books, which can be complex for the elementary school student. It will also allow them to not only read his works, but to also create works of their own. Studying Dahl will also help them grasp the notion that comedy and drama can be intertwined to create a fine piece of literature.

Return to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Materials: Access to the Internet, writing materials

Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964, and the sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator in 1971. However, his third book in the trilogy was never completed. In this project, your students are going to write an outline for the third book titled Return to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Review with students how to create a simple outline. For a project like this, you may suggest that they write a small paragraph for each suggested chapter of the book after they have brainstormed and come up with their storyline.

Divide students into small groups of 4-6 for this project. Prior to their starting the outline, have them go online to review the plots and themes of the first two books. Remind your students to note Dahl's writing style, especially his dark sense of humor.

When the outlines are completed, allow each group share their outlines with the class. You may also want to provide them the choice of acting out their new stories.

Finish this project by having each student write a short diary entry describing their thoughts on the project.

Fan Fiction and Roald Dahl Wall Mural

Materials: colored markers, mural paper, tape, Internet access, writing materials

For this project, your students are going to be combining their creation of fan fiction with the creation of a giant wall mural.

Begin by discussing with students that fan fiction, which is very popular, is basically fans creating alternate story lines of a book both using an author's characters and settings and adding to those, if desired. Advise students that in addition to writing their own versions of one of Dahl's works (either of their choosing or yours, depending upon your curriculum), they will also be creating a giant wall mural featuring Roald Dahl characters as well as any new characters that they created for their story.

If you don't already have Dahl's books in your classroom, allow students to go online and look at some of Dahl's characters from his books. They can use these references to help with their drawings.

Roald Dahl Clothesline Timeline

Materials: clothesline, clothespins, color-coded index cards, Internet access, Sharpies or pens

The actual life of Roald Dahl might seem as remarkable as many of his books. He worked for a corporation that allowed him to adventure in Africa, he became a British fighter pilot in WWII and was in a plane wreck, he married a beautiful American actress, and he suffered many personal tragedies. In this project, your students will create a clothesline timeline of some key dates in Dahl's life.

First, divide your students into five groups. Allow each group to research Roald Dahl. When they find an interesting fact, have them place it, as well as the date, on a color-coded index card (each group should have a different color). If you would like, you can set a minimum/maximum of facts/cards that each group can have. While they are researching, you can string a clothesline across the classroom.

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