The Life of Milton Hershey

Grade Levels: 6 - 8



About the Story

"Life Is Sweet: The Story of Milton Hershey" is a biography about the founder of the Hershey's® candy corporation. Milton Hershey made several failed attempts to start a business before developing his successful chocolate company.

Quotes of the Week

  • Quote 1: "To be a success in business, be daring, be first, be different." –Marchant
  • Quote 2: "From a very early age, go into business with your children. Don't give allowances – make joint ventures instead. Turn every chore into a business. Breed entrepreneurs." –Wilson Harrell

Interview Topic
Interview an entrepreneur in your area. Examples of entrepreneurs are owners of family-owned restaurants, home-based businesses, family-run specialty stores, etc. Prepare a question list including literal and interpretive questions: "Why did you start your business? Why did you think your business would be successful? What risks are involved in starting a business?" Make a list of unique terms used by the entrepreneur, and enter them into your vocabulary notebook.


  • Introduce key vocabulary: apprenticeship, confectionery, the Great Depression.
  • Word-origin study:
  • entrepreneur: The word entrepreneur comes from the French verb entrepredre, "to undertake." An entrepreneur undertakes a business, assuming the financial risk for the possibility of profit.
  • confection: Confection is derived from the Latin word confectus. Con-, meaning "with," and facere, "to make," mean to prepare or mix together. Today a confection is anything made or preserved with sugar, such as candy or ice cream.
  • confectionery: A place where confections are made.
  • List other words beginning with the prefix con-. Write the words and their definitions in your vocabulary notebook.

    Day One
    Objective: The students will discuss jobs they do to earn money.

  • Ask the students if they work small jobs to earn money. For example, do they mow neighbors' yards, clean cars, or babysit? Why do they earn money this way? How do they determine the price they charge? What are their expenses? How do they find their customers? If they work in this way, they are entrepreneurs.
  • The students will brainstorm and list jobs they can do to earn extra money. Write the list on the board. Then break the students into groups. Each group will choose a business from the list and work together throughout the week to plan a business. In the end, each group will determine if the business is financially feasible.

Day Two
Story Lesson

"The title of the story we're reading today is "Life Is Sweet: The Story of Milton Hershey". What do you think the story is about? What do you already know about Hershey?"

Discuss the literal and interpretive questions in the packet provided.


  1. Invite members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce to come to your class. After reviewing the story "Life Is Sweet: The Story of Milton Hershey," ask the members to give their opinions on why Milton Hershey's first attempts at business failed. Why do they think Hershey kept trying to start his own business?

  2. Match each Junior Chamber of Commerce member (as a consultant) with a group set up on Day One. The students work together to set up a business plan and prepare a start-up plan based on the advice of their consultant. They should prepare charts and graphs to illustrate their financial plans.

  3. Each group makes creative advertising posters that it believes will attract customers to its imaginary business.

  4. On the final day, the groups present their business plans and posters to the class.

Books to Read

Be the Boss: The Must Have Book for Anyone Starting Their Own Business. Coral Gables, FL: S.T.A.R.T., 1994.

Harrell, Wilson. For Entrepreneurs Only: Success Strategies for Anyone Starting or Growing a Business. Hawthorne, NJ: Career Press, 1994.

Malone, Mary. Milton Hershey: Chocolate King. Champaign, IL: Garrard Publishing Company, 1971.

Nicholas, Ted. The Ted Nicholas Small Business Course: A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Running Your Own Business. Chicago: Enterprise Dearborn, 1994.

Riolo, Al. The New-Idea Success Book: Starting a Money-Making Business. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Liberty House, 1989.

Shippen, Katherine Binney. Milton S. Hershey. New York: Random House, 1959.

Taylor, T.M. Secrets to a Successful Greenhouse Business: A Complete Guide to Starting and Operating a High-Profit Business That's Beneficial to the Environment. Melbourne, FL: T.M. Taylor Co., 1991.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. Fast Talk on a Slow Track. New York: Dutton, 1991.

This lesson is from Reading Stories for Comprehension Success.

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