Was Willy Wonka Good at Heart?

Ages: 10 & under
Suggested length: 1 class period (45-55 minutes) 
Device accessibility: 1 device per 2 students

Lesson Information

At a glance

This Kialo discussion explores the question of whether the literary character Willy Wonka was good at heart. Students will explore the discussion and talk it over in pairs. Then, they will vote on the claims that they think are most important.

Finally, students will write a small composition in which they take and defend a stance on the discussion’s central question.

Learning objective(s)

In this lesson, students will:

  • Recall and discuss events from a fictional text.
  • Analyze complex emotions and behaviors.

Prior knowledge

This activity touches on complex concepts such as responsibility, hypocrisy, compassion, or blame. It is recommended to review these concepts with the students before doing the lesson.

Teacher preparation

Provided materials

  • The Kialo discussion, “Was Willy Wonka Good at Heart?” This includes:
    • Instructions for students and key vocabulary terms.
    • A fully developed Kialo discussion for students to explore and engage with. The discussion covers reasons why Willy Wonka was morally good and why he was morally bad.
  • Lesson plan for educators (.docx / .pdf).

Lesson Plan

Suggested length: 1-2 class periods (45-55 minutes each)

Lesson components:
– Opener (5 minutes)
– Activity
– Part A: Students explore the Kialo discussion and vote on claims (25-30 minutes)
– Part B: Students discuss follow-up questions (10 minutes)
– Part C: Assign the writing activity (5 minutes)
– Optional closer (5 minutes)

Students will write a short essay on the prompt, “Was Willy Wonka good at heart?”

Opener (5 minutes)

  1. Have a discussion with your class: Are there any book or film characters that you like even though they are “bad guys”? Why do you like them?
  2. Explain that some characters cannot be defined clearly as “good” or “bad,” and Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of them. Explain that they will explore a Kialo Discussion that will help them make up their own minds about the moral nature of Willy Wonka.


Part A: Students explore the Kialo discussion and vote on claims (25-30 minutes)

  1. Direct students to work in pairs to read all of the claims in the Kialo discussion. One student should read the pros (green) and the other should read the cons (red).
  2. When students are close to finishing their reading of the discussion, have them vote on their 5 favorite claims in their pairs. Direct students to give a score of “4” on the 5 claims that they think are most important for determining whether Willy Wonka is good or bad.

Tip: You may wish to demonstrate voting to your students. Pick any claim and model how to give it a score of “4.” You can then revoke your vote by clicking on the “4” again.

Part B: Students discuss the follow-up question (10 minutes)

  1. Have students discuss the following questions in the same pairs:
    • Was Willy Wonka right to fire his workers?
    • Were the Oompa Loompas better off in his factory?
    • If Mr. Wonka had children, would he be a good parent?
    • Was Willy Wonka selfish?
    • Did Augustus, Veruca, Mike, and Violet deserve what happened to them?

Part C: Assign the writing activity (5 minutes)

  1. Tell students that they will write a short opinion essay on the prompt, “Was Willy Wonka good at heart?”

Optional closer (5 minutes) 

  1. Review how students voted as a class. Are there any patterns in how the students voted?
  2. Have students volunteer to explain why they voted as they did for their chosen claims.

Related Kialo Discussion

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