If an author depicts a literary character as helpful, is that character better represented as an M&M candy or a mint Tic Tac?
Students in Ivy Nobles’ class at Sterling Elementary answered this question during a celebration event held last week in honor of the class’s completion of the first nine-week reading unit.
Nobles, along with the school’s media specialist Lydia Brantley, arranged a “Trait Taste” activity for the fifth-grade class.
Snacks of all sorts — salty, sweet, crunchy, sour — were placed in bowls on tables. Working in groups, the students visited each table and tried the treats. Then, referencing the novels they’ve read so far this school year, the students decided how the traits of the literary characters they’ve read about matched with the flavors of the food.
“You’re going to taste some treats that are on the table, and when you taste a treat, you’re going to match that treat to a character trait,” Brantley explained.
The students have read three books so far in the fiction unit. The treat tasting activity served as both a celebration of their hard work and a review of the unit.
“We’ve talked about perspectives all throughout the unit, so today we’re going to celebrate the traits that characters have in the books,” Nobles told the students.
Every answer was subjective, and at the tables students engaged in lively conversations about their opinions on what could be the correct answers, as they snacked on chocolate candies, pistachios, potato chips, gummy worms, Starbursts and more.
“This is another way that they can actually write about their reading — by selecting the trait for a character in the book and deciding why that character has that particular trait,” Nobles said. “Also, this could be debatable, because some people could disagree.”
At the end of the activity, the class sat down together and the students were able to defend their choices using evidence from the text.
The apple slices represented a wise character. Apple slices, a student said, are healthy and therefore a wise choice.
Soft peppermints were matched with quiet characters. Those don’t make much noise while being chewed.
M&M’s or Tic Tacs for the helpful character sparked some debate.
Tic Tacs obviously represented the helpful trait, one student argued.
“Somebody’s helping you with your personal hygiene,” she said.
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