On October 22, The Prep's kindergarten class received a special treat – their very own golden ticket inside a Wonka bar – thanks to their teacher, Marlene Schick. The surprise was the culminating highlight of a tradition Schick established with her students when she began her teaching career in 1987.
"Every year, after completing the thirty-chapter book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, the kindergarteners find a golden ticket under the wrapper of a Wonka bar candy because reading is magic!" Schick said.
For the 31st time on Monday, Schick encouraged her students to look inside their cubbies for a Wonka bar – a Rocky Road bar wrapped in paper – to see what was inside. As the eager students carefully removed the packaging, they found the coveted prize. Each golden ticket contained a personalized message on the back from Willy Wonka himself.
"Thank you for being a good listener to the story Roald Dahl wrote about me. Mrs. Schick told me that you are an excellent student!" read the note from Wonka.
Schick said that October is the perfect time of year to read the childhood classic to her students, since candy and Halloween go hand in hand. She says there's no better way to bring the story to life than to find their own golden ticket.
The chapter book is rated at higher reading level usually reserved for third through sixth grade students. Schick reads chapter books to her five-year-old students because she sees the value of reading aloud to younger students. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease highlights many of the benefits of this practice.
"While listening to chapter books, children are required to truly use their imaginations because there are few, if any, illustrations," Schick says. "Vocabulary is expanded as children listen to descriptive narration and dialogue. Valuable interaction between adult and child occurs. Discussion promotes reading for meaning, developing opinions and sparking new ideas. Books with more complicated story lines promote empathy and understanding."
In addition to the educational benefits and joy for reading Schick instills in her students, they are also getting a healthy dose of childhood joy. "I got a golden ticket!" was heard exclaimed multiple times from her classroom that afternoon. The chocolate bar may not have lasted long, but for the lucky students in room J-103, the memory of finding their special golden tickets can last a lifetime.