Catholic Connection: Faith Activities — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Willy Wonka

JerzTheaterMusical Theatre Education PacketsCharlie and the Chocolate Factory / Willy Wonka

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Lesson plans for Catholic Connection. (See also sections on English literature and writingmathsocial studies [geographyhistoryeconomics], science and healthart, and music.)

10.1) Mr. Wonka invented many new candy bars. Stop by Majesty Christian store in Westmoreland Mall to buy & try a “Bible” Bar (near checkout) made from seven foods/treats mentioned in the Old Testament.

10.2) Read about and/or support The Roald Dahl Foundation, , which aids children with epilepsy, blood disorders, and acquired brain injuries, including specialized pediatric nurses to care for these children. Become  better informed about these topics by completing Science/Health activity #7.6.

10.3) Read Josephine Nobisso’s beautifully-illustrated fairy-tale-style picture book, The Weight of a Mass, in which a country that has forgotten its faith rediscovers the value of the Catholic mass through a miracle in a local bakery. The delicious pile of breads, cakes, and desserts depicted should appeal to little sweet-lovers, but the book helps show that there’s something more impressive than them all.

10.4) Mr. Wonka gives away his factory – an extraordinary act of generosity, which transforms the lives of the impoverished Buckets and secures the future of the Oompa-Loompas (whose support & safety has been Mr. Wonka’s responsibility for years.) Mr. & Mrs. Bucket also show a quiet heroism as they try to care for the very young (Charlie) and the very old (the bedridden grandparents) under desperate circumstances. Think about other extraordinary real-world moral examples:

  • Read about saints with a special affection for children, such as St. John Bosco, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Blessed Gianna Berretta Molla, and St. Nicholas of Myra (who is equally known for his generosity).
  • Read about saints who have been especially associated with poverty and/or serving the poor, such as St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Martin de Porres, or Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
  • What about a patron saint for candymakers? Try reading about Honoratus (Honorus), patron saint of cakemakers, and Nicholas of Myra or Elizabeth of Hungary (also known for acts of charity, & an austere lifestyle despite her rank), both patrons of bakers– for they are as close as I could get to candymakers!
  • Finally, find out more about saints associated with music, like St Cecilia, St. Hildegard of Bingen, or Pope Gregory the Great, and about the patron saint of actors, St. Genesius!

10.5) Would the struggling Bucket family fare any better in your area today? Learn more about an organization that serves those in need, such as Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society/stores, the Knights of Columbus (who log an amazing number of volunteer hours, and fund-raised dollars, for charity each year); perhaps Goodwill, Meals on Wheels, or Habitat for Humanity.

What could you do to help the less fortunate in your community? Try to do one thing to help. (Pray for them. Make a donation of time, money, non-perishable food, clothes, etc.. Or donate to the US Marines ‘Toys for Tots’ program when Stage Right performs White Christmas this November!)

10.6) Many parents and teacher feel concerned about the marketing and materialism surrounding kids today, and want to help raise a down-to-earth Charlie who cares for others, not a greedy, self-centered Veruca. Review the questions & suggestions in Social Studies #6.4.  If you have students/kids up to age 12, consider purchasing one of Sandra Garant’s simple e-books (also available in print) from Catholic Heritage Curricula:

  • Through discussion questions, weblinks, Bible verses & stories (esp. Aesop’s Fables), What Is Wealth? helps young people develop a healthy attitude toward wealth, distinguishing between natural and artificial wealth, identifying needs, and cultivating a sense of appreciation and contentment. The chapters continue into a very practical discussion of the physical dollar, and what children can do with it– a simple intro to bank/credit union accounts, interest, etc. (LOTS of math problems involving interest!).
  • The Biggest Family on Earth uses lots and lots of group games, plus Bible verses, questions, activities, and a suggested story or video (such as a saint’s life) each chapter, to introduce basics of Catholic social teaching. The Table of Contents includes ‘Right to Life,’ ‘Basic Needs,’ ‘Common Good, Love for the Poor and Weak,’ ‘Dignity of Work,’ ‘Stewardship of Creation,’ and ‘Government of the People, by the People, for the People.’

10.7) Virtues & Vices: Which of the children on the tour illustrates one of the seven Deadly Sins? What are the seven Deadly Sins? (Consider reading or play-acting some Medieval drama, as suggested in English/Literature activity #1.4, since these abstract qualities become actual characters.  Audience members learned by watching an invisible spiritual struggle become visible.)

10.8) For mature teens and adults: Lasse Halstrom’s film Chocolat revolves around a witch’s chocolate shop in a French Catholic village during Lent. Despite the talented cast– including Johhny Depp, who starred in the Willy Wonka film– and beautiful cinematography, Chocolat places an inaccurate understanding of Lenten fasting, and an inconsistent view of the value of tradition at the heart of the film. Discuss this!

  • For example: Does the film give the impression that everyone is required to give up chocolate/sweets for Lent? Is this accurate? And if somehow the whole village did, why didn’t they just taste her new ‘magical’ chocolates on Sundays (which are not part of Lent)?
  • Why do the Catholic villagers get treated as repressed & made unhappy by their faith & traditions, while the stranger-character Vianne appears as the town’s savior? What are the ancient Mayan traditions, and/or mystical  behaviors to which she is bound? How do these affect her daughter, Anouk?  If you were required to follow one of these traditions in your own life, which would it be: (1) never staying in one place to form lasting relationships/obeying & moving with the wind (including kidnapping your child from the other parent when moving), OR, (2) giving up chocolate for 40 out of 365 days?
  • Realistically, do you think that the great Ancient Mayan secret of drinking hot chocolate with a little chili pepper stirred into it would fix the villagers’ problems, or change their outlook on life? In general, which do you think would improve your community or society: having more people exercise self-control or restraint; or having more people loosen up & indulge themselves, as suggested by the movie?

Have your student research the practice of fasting, and how/why it is practiced during Lent. Conversely, can you think of any Feast days that you or others have celebrated? (Do a little more research to choose a feast day you would like to celebrate, and the food/music/activities you would enjoy that day.)

Reflect on the place of family traditions, religious traditions, and ethnic or national traditions in your life. Do you find these to have value? Discuss the differences between man-made traditions and those instituted by God. Read and discuss at least five Bible verses that refer to tradition, then do the same for 3-4 quotations from the early Church Fathers (leaders/teachers during the first centuries of Christianity).

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Author: Leigh Jerz
Webmaster: Dennis G. Jerz

17 Sep 2011 — Catholic connection section posted here

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