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A sweet day for Morningside Elementary

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Teacher finds chocolate keeps kids focused on late-year lessons

By Kelly Cantrall

Barbara Rowland discovered an effective way to teach math and reading to her students — just add chocolate.

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Rowland’s fifth-grade class at Morningside Elementary School has studied chocolate for the end of school year, a tradition that dates back 20 years. This year marked a first when Rowland and students prepared chocolate in class.

The tradition began as a chocolate day, which originally was a chance for a sweet treat at  year’s end, Rowland said.

“It started out just to reward my kids for a wonderful year,” she said.

But the idea has grown to encompass all aspects of curriculum and she has chocolaty activities for all subjects. These included a selection of books, a Hershey’s-influenced Monopoly game and book of Hershey’s Fractions.

Rowland has created many items herself with facts about the history of chocolate products such as Oreos.

“Every year it gets bigger,” she said.

Student Jeremiah Vea liked the variety in the chocolate unit.

“It’s cool and it’s fun and you get to do a lot of activities,” Vea said.

Students also began watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and have read the book on which it’s based, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

This year Rowland was able to order a kit to make chocolate and enlisted two students to stir while she added cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar to make a smooth product, which she then refrigerated to allow to cool and set.

Rowland said she likes that it allows her to continue lessons in the curriculum through the last days of school, “but in a fun way.”

Student Alexus Brown and Vea helped Rowland stir ingredients into a chocolate mixture. Brown said making chocolate was her favorite part of the unit and she was surprised to learn the ingredients needed to be at an exact 94 degrees to come together perfectly. That was a lesson she was happy to learn in school.

“Everyone knows I’m a chocolate fan,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.