Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Potato Chip Champ -- A Champion in More Ways Than One!

Just read a post over at Digital: Divide & Conquer yesterday, and I loved how Matt used the work LINKTACULAR when he was linking up with several bloggers! So I will use his wonderful term and call today's post linktacular as well...

Here goes... This is a CHAMPION story in more ways than one!

At the beginning of September, Tara at 4th Grade Frolics shared a wonderful text she was using with her fourth graders--The Potato Chip Champ by Maria Dismondy.  I was immediately taken with the story and asked her if it would be appropriate for second graders.  Indeed, it was!  I hopped on and ordered several copies so I could share it with my students...

The last couple of years, I have used A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon for a dual purpose--to teach students about character traits and as a character ed lesson about how important it is to be yourself and to like a person for who he/she is.

This all changed when I discovered The Potato Chip Champ by Marie Dismondy, a story of kindness and a perfect text for learning about character traits.  I read the text aloud to students (more than once), and then some students reread the story in smaller groups.  Let me say that the responses from students were heartfelt.  Many thoughtful comments were made throughout the read aloud and afterward.  When asked to share a lesson/moral that the author was teaching us, we heard--kindness rules all, it's about who you are, etc.

Tara at 4th Grade Frolics also shared Maria Dismondy's website in her post, so I went over and checked it out.  I found a wonderful unit created by Runde's Room to accompany the story.  I especially liked the potato chip bag activity that included a bag template and questions about the story printed on potato chips.  My kids LOVED this!  Not to mention, their responses to the questions were spot on! 

Students also generated a HUGE list of character traits that could be used to describe both characters, and they had to give evidence to back up their inferences before we would add a trait to the list.  Finally, students paired up, chose a character (Walter or Champ), chose four character traits to best describe the character, and came up with a reason to support each trait.  This was done in the form of a character web. Download a copy of the character web template here ! Template is for legal sized paper and frames clipart courtesy of KPM Doodles.

I cannot say enough how this story MOTIVATED my students. At times, I have overheard students talking about the story, now almost two weeks after reading it the first time.  When parent visitors came, the story was one of the first things they shared--in detail along with the lesson.  I have heard from many, "I LOVE that story!"  Even more importantly, I believe the story has motivated my students to show the kind of kindness that Walter showed in the story.  I think it is truly rare when one story is adored by all and creates such an excitement for reading... 

Looking for a story that will motivate your students--I believe this one will!

Well, it did not stop there! Champ is a lover of potato chips, and so is my class.  When I brought the bag of question chips out, many asked if they were real chips!  Regretfully, I had to answer with a "No" that was followed by a resounding "AAW." The weekend after reading the story, I was talking to my husband about it and decided to pick up some chips at Walmart during our Saturday errands.  It was an easy math connection--a potato chip taste test!

As you can imagine, the kids were PUMPED!  They tasted like real champs! We surveyed, collected data, and created a graph.  I will also post these templates for you to download when I return to school on Monday...

Wow! What a fabulous time had by ALL!  You MUST pick up this book, if you haven't already.  It has made an entrance into my top ten of all time. Thanks to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for sharing, and a HUGE thank you goes out to Marie Dismondy!

Fly on over to these wonderful blogs to read more! Monday's linkups will be active tomorrow...

Smiles for a wonderful week!


  1. I am SO doing this. I can't wait to adapt it for K!

  2. You have convinced me to order this book. Love the activities you shared - pinning those for when I get the book :)

    1. Super! I will have the character organizer and graphing things posted later tonight or tomorrow... Thanks so much for stopping by!


  3. Loved this post - I will have to get my hands on this book! Thanks for sharing!
    Doodling Around in 6th Grade

    1. You are so welcome! So glad I saw it on 4th Grade Frolics. Stop over there to see what she did with fourth graders... Thanks for flying by!


  4. This is excellent, what a fun book and great lesson activities!

  5. What a cute story and activity. Thanks for sharing.
    And what about linktacular? . . . too funny!

    School Is a Happy Place

  6. Super motivating Sarah! I guess you've bent my arm into ordering another book! heehee-you're post is great and full of ideas I want to try in my class! Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  7. A story that motivates reading and kindness? Count me in!

    Thank you for the recommendation!

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  8. Thank you for linking up. How fun!!!
    Tamra and Sarah