I used the Chef Hook. I also changed the lighting and added ambiance in the classroom using music. I recreated a scene from the book. When my students entered the classroom this past Friday morning, they felt like they had entered the book Because of Winn Dixie.
I set up the party that Opal had in Gloria Dump's backyard. I had the pictures of dogs that Sweetie Pie brought for decorations. I had Miss Franny Block's Littmus lonzenges (butterscotch candies). I made Gloria's Dump Punch (using the ingredients listed in the book). I even brought Otis' big jar of pickles. I used lights for candles inside of brown bags, just like they did in the book.
On the Smart Board I played the soundtrack from the movie. The students were amazed and their comments were priceless. One girl wanted to go get her sister from another classroom so she could see it. A parent asked what was happening today and a student told her all about the party from the book--perfect retell.
Being able to actually participate in Opal's Party was a wonderful experience for my students. One student said, "this looks exactly like the mental movie in my head!" Another boy was drinking his Dump Punch and he told me it tasted just like the punch in the book! A boy was sucking on his Littmus lozenge and he said he could really taste the sorrow. What better way to show children the purpose of a skill or strategy than for them to experience it?
During the party, students took turns making jottings on the Smart Board. They shared their thoughts about the book using empathy, envisioning, predicting, and character traits.