October 19, 2014

Brewing Up Some Language

This ancient recipe came from a
magic book.
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I think this year I cracked the Halloween jackpot with my students: We are brewing up some bona fide witches' potions in the Speech room with an authentic magic recipe. Okay, maybe it's not that authentic, but my students believe it is. It really is just the good ol' vinegar and baking soda experiment with a spooky twist to it.

I purchased some miniature cauldrons (available on Amazon and Oriental Trading), which gave me the idea for this activity.

I found some parchment paper templates online and used these to create an ancient-looking recipe titled "Witches' Brew" (the Blackadder ITC font in Word lends itself well to this). The recipe's ingredients are truly mystical: it calls for "bone dust" (baking soda), "fairy dust" (glitter), "goblin drool" (vinegar), and "snake venom" (green food coloring).

Using the parchment paper template, I also created labels for each of these ingredients. These labels were taped onto each of the corresponding materials.

When students arrived to their session, we read the book "Witches" by Cheryl Christian, a beautifully illustrated rhyming book about witches' antics. I then told the students that I had found a witches' recipe in an old magic book in the library. The students were amazed! And they kept asking me where I had gotten these weird ingredients. Well, truth be told, some of my older students questioned whether this recipe was real, but they still had a blast! Using measuring cups and measuring spoons, students had to follow the recipe's instructions to create their "Witches' Brew".

Click on the picture to get the recipe and labels on TPT.
This activity was an awesome "life skills" lesson, as it provided an opportunity for the kids to be introduced to different abbreviations (tsp./tbsp.) and measurement tools. They also had to learn how to read the numbers (1/4, 1/2) and find and use the correct measurement tool. It was amazing how many of my students have never used these kitchen utensils! To mix in some language practice, we targeted new vocabulary ("ingredients", "ancient", "dust", "drool", "venom", "cauldron", "stir", "measure", "teaspoon vs. tablespoon", etc.). This also makes a good articulation carry-over activity, and you can have students read the recipe using their good sounds.

We also talked about the different smells and looks of the ingredients, and made predictions about what might happen when we mix the ingredients together (a common guess was that the potion would "explode"). After the activity, I had students guess what they thought the ingredients really were.

My students had a blast!
The kids had so much fun with this! I think this activity created some lasting memories for them. I bet that next year they will ask me if we can do this again (which is usually a good indicator that an activity was successful)!

If you would like to do this activity with your groups, I posted the recipe, labels, and an observation form for a buck fifty on TPT. Just be aware that you will have to purchase additional materials: miniature cauldrons, the ingredients, measuring utensils, and a tray to catch the mess (I found the clear cup, measuring cups/spoons, vinegar, and tray at the Dollar store). Worth it!

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