Since his debut in 1997, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling's boy wizard, has sold over 400 million books in 68 languages and led readers through more than 4,000 pages. Most importantly, Harry continues to unlock the magic of reading for children around the world. Transform your curriculum with these fun Potter teaching ideas! For more, check out the Harry Potter series in The Stacks by Scholastic.
These fun crafts are a cinch to make, even for Muggles. Use them to help set the stage for a Harry Potter skit, parade, or celebration.
What you need: Plastic ping-pong balls; white feathers; craft glue; gold spray paint, paint pens, markers, or glitter
What to do: Give a ball to each student. Paint or color the balls gold, or roll in craft glue and then glitter. When the surface is dry, glue a feather to either side. Time for Quidditch!
Harry Potter Glasses
What you need: Two black pipe cleaners and one white one for every kid
What to do: Pass out the pipe cleaners. Help students twist the pipe cleaners together and into an eyeglass shape. Wrap the white pipe cleaner around the bridge of the nose to appear like tape. Wear with Gryffindor pride.
What you need: Balloons, newspaper strips, water, flour, paint
What to do: Mix one part flour to two parts water and dip the strips into the mixture. Apply the strips to the surface of blown-up balloons. When dry, pop the balloons and invite kids to paint the surface to resemble dragon eggs.
What you need: Yarn in the various house colors, cardboard scraps
What to do: Show children how to make a loom out of a cardboard scrap. Follow Diane Gilleland's directions in her blog on CraftStylish.
What you need: Paper-towel tubes, small objects from home, tissue paper, rubber bands, decorations
What to do: Invite kids to place objects inside their tubes. These should represent a magical ability the child wishes to have. Seal with tissue paper and rubber bands. Decorate with stickers, etc.
Ways to Make the Series Manageable
Harry has helped thousands of kids discover the joy of reading. These techniques can give struggling readers a boost.
Listen to the Audio Books
We love narrator Jim Dale's recordings of the seven Harry Potter installments almost as much as the books themselves. Struggling readers can listen to a chapter, then read the same portion — or just listen to a section they are having trouble with.
Try Reading Partners
Pair a stronger reader with one who's still working on basic skills. Give the partners guided questions for discussion, but also allow time for open conversation. Have pairs choose their most interesting observation to share with the rest of the class.
Watch the Movie Previews
Use the film trailers (available on YouTube) as a way to tickle students' interest in the books, too. After students have read the book, discuss the differences between the book and movie versions.
Celebrate when students have finished a chapter, section, book, or the entire series. Purchase an inexpensive witch's hat and decorate it with glittery stickers and stars. Let the student of honor wear the hat during silent reading time.
Visit London — Online!
Take students on a Harry Potter-themed tour of the historic city.
Visit King's Cross
In honor of Hogwarts's secret platform 9¾, the station has erected a luggage cart that "disappears" into the wall. See the bewitched cart at On This Very Spot.
Wander Cecil Court
Said to be the real-world inspiration for Diagon Alley, this quirky section of London is filled with book and antique shops. Try "flying" there using Google Earth.
See the "Real" Hogwarts
In the Harry Potter movies, many of the scenes of Hogwarts were filmed in Gloucester Cathedral in London. Take a virtual tour of the Gloucester Cathedral.
There's no doubt about it, Harry has changed millions of lives. Here are a few key figures.
- 400 million copies sold worldwide
- 68 languages in which Harry is published
- 200 countries sell Harry Potter in bookstores
- 228 weeks Harry Potter spent on the New York Times bestseller list
- 51% of kids say they did not read books for fun until reading Harry Potter
- 74% of kids say reading Harry Potter made them more interested in reading other books
- 65% of kids say they do better in school after reading Harry Potter
Wizard Writing Lessons
Enlist Harry, Hermione, and Ron to help teach students the 6+1 traits of writing.
Keep a chart of the "big ideas" in the series, like "the chosen one," "family," and "sacrifice." Have students use different-colored highlighters to mark passages that reflect these themes, thereby getting a visual representation of how often Rowling returns to the same ideas.
Review Rowling's organization on various levels, from paragraph to chapter to book to entire series. For example, each book 1) occurs over one school year; 2) includes a back-to-school scene, a holiday scene, and a climactic scene; and 3) moves between the real and wizard worlds.
Make flash cards with quotes from various characters in the series. Have students read the quotes aloud to a partner; the partner must then guess who said the quote. How do students know who said what?
Keep a running T-chart of unusual words students come across as they read the series. Use one column to record words Rowling invented for her books, such as Quidditch and Muggles. Use the other column to record real words that aren't familiar to students, like balaclava.
As students read, invite them to record favorite lines in a journal. Periodically have children share some of these lines with the rest of the class. What makes the quote work on a sentence level? Is there anything students would change or add to improve the fluency?
Discuss the fact that the international versions of Harry Potter are slightly different based on each country's conventions. Several words have different spellings, for example, and others are particular to specific countries. Why is it important for the various editions to use the conventions of that country?
Ask students what contributes to the consistent look of the series. Discuss factors such as font, illustration, chapter headings, and jacket style.
Magical Math Ideas
Teachers at every grade level say they've used counting galleons and mixing potions to inspire mathematical thinking. Here are some of our favorite activities.
For Grades 1-2
At this age level, chances are you are reading the series out loud in class. Try giving each student a dry-erase board or small notebook. As you read, periodically stop and ask students to sketch a quick picture of what they've just heard or what they think might happen next. Not only will this aid in reading and listening comprehension, but you can highlight illustrations that lend themselves to mathematical discussion. For example, if a student draws Harry and Hermione shopping for school supplies, talk about how many books they might buy with a given number of galleons. Draw further pictures if necessary to help students visualize the concepts under review.
For Grades 3-5
Invite students to assemble magic potions to practice fractions. Cut large kettle shapes from black construction or butcher paper. Then give students a round paper plate to attach to their kettles. Challenge children to "fill their kettles" by coloring portions of their paper plates according to the potion ingredients mentioned in one of the Harry Potter books. Rowling rarely gives precise measurements, but students should determine exactly how much of each ingredient goes into the potion, for example, 1/2 leeches, 1/4 powdered bicorn horn, and 1/4 knotgrass.
For Grades 6-8
Harry and his friends spend a great deal of time worrying about their O.W.L. exams, or Ordinary Wizarding Levels. As a way to review material at the end of a chapter or unit, challenge students to write their own O.W.L. exams covering the topics you have been studying. The twist? Students must create word problems related to the series. If you've been studying probability, for example, students might use a table to determine the probability of each Hogwarts house winning the House Cup. Have students work in partners and then exchange their O.W.L with another twosome.
Many of Harry Potter's "magical" elements are becoming real-world possibilities, thanks to new technology. Watch these YouTube videos to learn more!
- Watch The REAL Daily Prophet to see an explanation of emerging technology that embeds moving pictures and video into newsprint.
- Watch Invisible Cloak for Soldiers to see how scientists are developing technology that uses tiny, outward-facing cameras to simulate invisibility.
Schools all over the country have adopted Muggle versions of Quidditch, every wizard's favorite game. Want to try it? Check out these websites for help!
- Forget the books' complicated rules — we like PECentral's simplified version the best. All you need are balls of various sizes, hula hoops, and a big, empty space for kids to run around.
- Visit the official site of the International Quidditch Association (yes, there is such a thing!). Watch videos and follow the annual World Cup action.
- If you don't have time for a real-life game of Quidditch, you can play the online Harry Potter Quidditch Game.
Ways to Commemorate Reading 4,224 Pages
For many kids, the Harry Potter series represents the longest books they've ever read. Here are five ways to keep track of that singular achievement.
With a Paper Chain: Kids can add a new loop for every 10 pages (or 100). Invite them to write a new vocabulary word from the current book on every piece of the chain.
In a Graph: Make a giant one out of butcher paper or use the interactive whiteboard. Have students color in blank squares as they read.
Using House Points: Award points to small groups based on number of pages completed. Trade for extra reading time.
Through Money: Put a penny in a jar for each page read. At the end of Deathly Hallows, have a celebratory pizza party with the money collected.
By Owl Post: Post a paper owl with a flap for the beak. Have kids write the total pages they've read each week on a sticky note and place it under the beak.
Online Home for Harry Potter
Visit Harry in The Stacks by Scholastic, an online experience dedicated to J.K. Rowling's series. Kids can demonstrate their knowledge about Harry and cast magical spells on their own!