Chocolate. Yummy! Have you thought about where chocolate comes from? Do you think about if your chocolate is grown from sustainable cocoa? Maybe you have, but until recently I hadn’t thought much about it. The Rainforest Alliance recently sent me more information about how important it is to ensure that the cocoa used in the chocolate that I eat come from sustainable resources. They also sent some fun challenges that students can do at home!
It’s that time of year when every kid is thinking about the same thing: Halloween! This annual holiday creates a significant spike in in the sale of chocolate but where does all that chocolate come from? What is the relationship between cocoa farming and how all that delicious chocolate ends up in your Halloween candy bag? Now is the perfect time for parents and teachers to encourage kids to learn more about the “bean to the bar” process with a fun and interactive program
The Rainforest Alliance, a global nonprofit that works to advance sustainable practices, offers a free online curriculum that explains how sustainable cocoa farming helps protect the quality of our global environment. One lesson, entitled “What Would Halloween Be without the Ecuadorian Rainforest” is presented in four unique challenges.
- Challenge 1: Students are given a number of typical Halloween treats and work in groups to examine ingredient lists on candy wrappers and brainstorm the origin of these food items. After dividing into two groups, students imagine what Halloween would be like without chocolate.
- Challenge 2: Students discover the wide range of places that supply ingredients for simple candies. For example, students investigate where ingredients for caramel apples originate from and compare those places to where chocolate is grown, like the Ecuadorian Rainforest.
- Challenge 3: Students compare and contrast the origins of the ingredients in their candy choices and calculate the expense of its travel to their homes. They will choose a candy that traveled the least number of miles and one that traveled the most number of miles.
- Challenge 4: Students invite other students and teachers to ‘trick or treat’ in their classroom. Students explain the difference between the treats highlighting the different plants growing in tropical rainforests and temperate areas.
Halloween is the perfect time for kids to learn about cocoa farming and how our choices can make a difference for the environment…and all lovers of chocolate!! The curriculum is tailored specifically to 4th graders but activities can be adjusted for grades K-8th. This curriculum is available for free on the Rainforest Alliance’s website at http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/curriculum/fourth and includes multimedia slideshows, online storybooks and species profiles.