Harry Potter Brings Magic Into the Classroom
Is your class entranced by the magic of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter? The excitement can carry you into many skill-building classroom activities.
- Grades: 3–5
Make-Your-Own Trading Cards
Making trading cards is a great way to have your class practice recalling facts and details, summarizing, establishing sequential order, and presenting work orally. Ask your students to draw pictures of characters, scenes, or events from one of the Harry Potter texts on index cards. On the back of the cards, the children record who, when, where, how, and why details. Encourage them to share their cards in small groups by reading aloud, asking questions, and trading cards.
— Ida S. Gutierrez, La Feria, TX
House Cup Awards
Motivate students in academics and behavior by initiating a "house cup" as Hogwarts School did with Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Divide the class into four groups and let each decide on a house name. Invite them to design a crest to symbolize their house. Set aside bulletin board or wall space to display the crests. Award points for academic achievement and positive behavior and post them next to the crests. Periodically, award the "House Cup" (a paper trophy) to the group with the most points.
— Janet Worthington-Samo, St. Clement School, Johnstown, PA
Reader's Treasure Hunt
Challenge students to create literary treasure hunts that send classmates back to the novels to find details. Divide students into several small groups. Give each group ten index cards and a small treasure — something shareable such as jellybeans. Encourage each group to follow these steps to create their treasure hunt:
- Hide their treasure somewhere in the classroom.
- Write each letter in the name of the hiding spot on a different index card.
- On the flip side of each card, write a question about an event or detail from the book. Include the page number.
- Place cards in a stack with the questions face up and exchange them with another group. Each group works together to answer a set of questions. Then they unscramble the letters to name the spot where the treasure is hidden! Use this game to enhance the children's reading experience of any book.
— Adapted from an idea by Judy Wetzel, Woodburn School, Falls Church VA
Dear Harry Letters
Set up an "Owl Post" in your classroom to help children understand characters and practice letter writing. Decorate a box with pictures of owls that kids draw, and cut a slit in the lid. Label it "Owl Post." Invite each student to write a letter to a character. Encourage them to ask questions that invite a response. Mail the letters at the "Owl Post" and deliver them to students at random. Ask them to respond to letters written by their classmates "in character." Display the letters in pairs on a bulletin board labeled "Special Delivery from the Owl Post."
— Bob Krech, Dutch Neck School, Princeton Junction, NJ
Map the Setting
Working in groups, your class can design maps to correspond to the settings in the books — such as Harry's Muggle home on Privet Drive, Hogwarts school, or Diagon Alley. Use Harry's "marauder's map" as your example. Using the map helped Harry to know what was happening all around Hogwarts. These large and colorful maps will grow in detail as your students read and add what they they have learned.
— Ida S. Gutierrez, La Feria, TX
Help students organize and retain what they read by making Hogwarts yearbooks with tagboard covers. Students can divide the books into sections featuring descriptions of each of the characters, both students and faculty, based on details from the books. They can write accounts of significant events and activities such as Quidditch matches and the Halloween feast. Students really master the material through attention to detail!
— Perry W. Rogers, Pueblo West, Colorado
Sorting Hat Bulletin Board
Help children track the events, characters, and settings of the Harry Potter books by using sorting hats! Create an outline with your students on a colorful sorting hat bulletin board. Write chapter numbers on the hat shapes. After reading a chapter, work together with children to record three or more significant events on star or moon shapes (or index cards). Staple the shapes to the chapter hat. Use the shape timelines to help children review previous readings and follow the plot.
— Wendy Weiner, The Parkview School, Milwaukee, WI