Novel engineering: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Description of Novel Engineering:

Novel Engineering is a framework that can be used with most books, where there is a conflict or a challenge, that the characters of the book must solve.

It is when the pupils have to solve the challenges, that technology can be used.

This is a lesson plan based on working with the book ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl.


The pupils have to learn about character analysis and setting analysis. While the book is read, the pupils have to try and identify the problems or conflicts, they come across in the story. With the help of The Fable Robot, they must try to solve one (or more) of the conflicts in the book, and their solution must be in accordance with the setting of the book.


  • Fable Robot with the various parts
  • A box filled with miscellaneous bits and pieces for building the solutions
  • Notepad or notebook for writing down ideas and conflicts as we go

Teaching activities

The task can be phrased more or less loosely. In the loosely phrased task the pupils have to pick the problem, that they want to solve. If you wish a more structured task, the teacher can pick a conflict, that the pupils have to solve.

Before the pupils start with identifying the conflicts in the book, they must have thoroughly acquainted themselves with the characters and the setting. The setting in the books can be a natural hurdle for the solution of the problem. E.g. in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, most of the story takes place in a factory. Thus the solution have to be able to work in those surroundings.

After this the design process starts, where the pupils will receive feedback on their solutions, as the work progresses. Fable will be a part of this process. There is also the option of putting in more hurdles as the work goes on. In the end the solutions are presented.
Before the work with this plan starts, the pupils will have read the book, so the passages used for the lesson plan, will be re-read.


Activity Time N.B.

The pupils are sitting in their assigned seats. They have to close their eyes, fold their hand and put them on their knees in front of them. First they have to listen for a tick of a clock. Then the task begins.

The pupils’ task is to unfold their hands like a flower starting to bloom in precisely one minute.

When everybody is ready you will say now, and when one minute has passed, the game is stopped. Some will have unfolded their hands too quickly, and some will only be halfway there.

5 mins Finding the focus for reading and sharpening their attention.
Teaching goals:

  • You have to get to know the characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • You have to study the setting of the book
  • You have to identify problems in the book and come up with a solution
  • You have to use your imagination and creativity
3 mins Presentation in PowerPoint, on blackboard or something similar
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • reading and character analysis

The pupils read chapters 1-4.

For each of the characters they have to write down keywords, that describes them.


Willy Wonka

Grandpa Joe

Mr. and Mrs. Bucket

30 mins or longer – buddy reading. Materials:

Cardboard posters A4/A3

Marker, pencils etc.

Copied pictures of the characters

The pupils work in pairs


Share and tell

Each group show their posters with notes to two other groups. If another group have keywords, that they do not have, they must add them.

10 mins


The pupils get together in pairs. They take turns saying the numbers 1-2-3 in a loop. Pupil A says 1, pupil B says 2, pupil A says 3 and so on.

After a little while 2 is replaced with a movement (e.g. a squat). After a while 3 is replaced with a movement (e.g. a jumping jack).

It is important NOT to say the number, as you do the movement.

10 mins This exercise is used to bring energy back into the group again.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • reading

The pupils read chapters 5-8. While they read they can add more words to their character posters.

They should also add new characters to the posters:

Augustus Gloop

Veruca Salt

Violet Beauregarde

Mike Teavee

The time for this is individual and depends on how fast the students read.

The pupils have to make a description of the house, that Charlie lives in. Then they have to make a drawing of how they imagine the house looks.

15-20 mins
10 mins Break —–
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The pupils read chapter 29.

While they read they write down what has happened to the four children.

20 mins The pupils work in pairs in the daily scheduled reading time.
A reading of Professor Foulbody’s machine pg. 30-31 10 mins
Design a solution

  • Brainstorm
  • pick an idea
  • draw
15 mins Paper, markers, pencils etc.

Here you can either choose one solutions for the whole class, or you can let the pupils work individually.


The pupils present their idea to another group. The other group give them feedback on how to improve their invention.

5 mins

The pupils roll a dice, and are given a thing, that has to be included in their solution.

2 mins Dice

Work cars – approximately 20 cards with different things. The things must be used in the pupils’ inventions. If it’s the first time the pupils work with innovation, you can leave out this part.

Design improvements

The pupils improve their drawing and include their new thing.

5 mins
Build your idea

The pupils build their ideas

The teacher judges how much time is needed. Some pupils benefit from time pressure, some don’t. The Fable Robot

If needed, parts can be 3D printed. See link::

Misc. construction materials

Presenting their ideas

The pupils show their solutions to each other. Maybe as a school exhibit, or as an exhibit for their parents to come and see.

This part is used as evaluation. You can also do evaluation as the project progresses, by having the pupils collect their sketches, outlines, drafts, pictures etc. in a portfolio, to be exhibited along with the solution.
Finishing up Collective talk in the class about the book and the moral to the story.

Using the motion sensor

The pupils wrote a program, where they used the motion sensor. They made Fable detect a movement and sound an alarm, when movement was detected. They also added a program to take a photo. 

Using the joint module

The pupils built a net out of pipe cleaners, and attached it to the joint module. Then the arm was programmed to catch a thief with the net. This solution could also be paired with the motion sensor, so the joint module reacts, when movement is detected.

Initially the pupils tried to attached the net directly to the joint module, but quickly discovered, that it was easier to attach it to some of the extension modules. In this case they used the hook on the phone holder.

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