Harry Potter and the Dichotomous Keyby: David T. Crowther

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In this lesson, students use Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans—a “wild” candy written about in the Harry Potter books and now available in stores—to learn about classification and dichotomous keys. In these activities, students sort jelly beans according to a key and then construct a key for a “new” flavor of beans. Students then build on their knowledge by classifying buttons and constructing their own classification key.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:00 PM

I did this activity with my 10th grade biology class to introduce them to the topic of classification. They really enjoyed this activity, however the problems that arose were checking to see if they were correct. The only true way to tell is to taste the jelly beans and thats not a good diea with food allergies. Also, dependent on the types of jelly belly beans I noticed that you do have to introduce "new species" to the mix.

Randee Holz
Randee Holz

  • on Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:47 PM

The activities in this article lead to students making their own dichotomous keys. The author uses Bertie Bott’s “Every Flavor Beans” from the Harry Potter series to teach students about classification. Students sort jellybeans according to a key and then construct their own dichotomous key for a new bean flavor. The lesson models the 5E Inquiry Model and incorporates two children’s literature books in the engagement phase: THE BUTTON BOX by Margarette S. Reid and SORTING by Henry Pluckrose. Classifying is a process skill children of all ages do naturally. Creating dichotomous keys may be better left to the older elementary grades. Avid readers of the Harry Potter books and jellybean lovers will especially benefit from this fun way to learn about classification and practice making dichotomous keys.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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