I’m sorry I’ve been away for a while, Husband and I took our yearly date vacation to Boston Comic Con, and I decided to embrace the joy of being a little less available than usual. But I’m back, and I’m here to crow about what was possibly the most successful week of programming I’ve had as a children’s librarian: Harry Potter Week. I set all programming to take place during the last week of July, culminating in both a celebration of Harry’s July 31st birthday AND a chance to rile everyone up for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release that week. It was a success, leaving me in the debt yet again of amazing librarians and Pinterest pinners.
I started things off on Monday by getting everyone ready to attend Hogwarts, initially handing out tickets to the Hogwarts Express, Hogwarts student IDs, and a Hogwarts origami sorting hat so they could sort themselves into houses. I decorated my bulletin board to look like Platform 9 3/4, and made sure no one actually decided to make a run for the wall. I don’t want to fill out accident reports. I helped the kids fold their origami sorters, and we were off to the next part: button making!
I came across the button maker when I first arrived at my library, and it’s been a successful part of my maker programs. Finding House buttons on Pinterest made things so much easier; I printed a few sets out on my home printer (I don’t have a color printer at work), brought the pages in, and got to hole punching. Once the kids selected their houses – I didn’t make them stick with a house they didn’t want – I had them come make their own House buttons. They LOVED it.
See the Hogwarts button in the middle? I made a bunch of those and handed them out to my coworkers, explaining to the kids that any of the librarians, computer people, or helpers were like the Hogwarts faculty, so if they needed help and I wasn’t around, they could just look for the Hogwarts button. My coworkers enjoyed being part of things, and the kids were excited to see a Hogwarts atmosphere taking shape around them. I welcomed the kids to their Houses as they made their buttons, and then moved onto the next part of the opening ceremonies: their Spell Books. I told them that every student at Hogwarts needs to start out with a basic book of spells, and handed out this great PDF including just about every spell in the Harry Potter universe. The pages are 4×6, and since I didn’t have the budget to buy small photo albums as suggested, I just let the kids cut them out and staple them together. We talked about some of the more popular spells, like Expelliarmus and Wingardiuim Leviosa (I totally did the Hermoine “Levi-oh-sah”), and I reminded them NOT to use Unforgiveable Curses on one another. It’s all fun and games until someone Avada Kedavras, you know. Day One at Hogwarts was a success.
On Day Two, we made Marauder’s Maps. I LOVE this one from Harry Potter Paraphernalia, which made things easier on my Corona Kids. There’s a lot of folding, but there’s a lot of wiggle room for someone who isn’t a master folder. I helped the kids with their maps, and everyone was insanely happy with the results. There’s another great map on Instructables, but I ultimately didn’t go with it, because the cutting and folding looked like it would have gotten confusing for most of my kids. The Harry Potter Paraphernalia map was a great introduction to folding for my group, and with some more practice and increasingly complex projects, I hope we can tackle the Instructables map next year.
After we made the maps, we talked about Patronuses. There are still a bunch of kids in the library who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, so introducing them to Hogwarts was exciting, and the Patronus really got them interested. I handed out black construction paper and put out a basket of sidewalk chalk and told them to create their own Patronuses. I figured the chalk on black paper would give the Patronuses an ethereal, otherworldly quality, and I was right! Plus, the kids loved working with the chalk and paper, and let their imaginations go wild. It was great! We had all sorts of Patronuses: a turtle, a giraffe, a unicorn; I even had a kid ask me if it was okay to make Medusa her Patronus. She wasn’t sure if a Gorgon was in Harry Potter’s world, and I told her that Fluffy, the three-headed dog at Hogwarts, is a Greek mythological figure named Cerberus, so if she wanted a Gorgon to be her Patronus, that she should go for it.
On Wednesday, I showed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and put out Harry Potter/Hogwarts coloring sheets – there are TONS on the Internet! The kids love a good movie day, and since I don’t know how many have cable, this was a first for quite a few. Movie day tends to be my own little oasis in the week, because I tend to between 2 and 4 programs a day during Summer Reading.
Thursday was our Wand Workshop, and despite there being many amazing wand workshops online, I have way too many kiddos to pull out the hot glue guns, so I stuck to chopsticks – I bought a pack of 100 for $1.99 from a local Asian grocery, some glitter glue, duct tape, and stickers. It was just fine; the kids love having something to do, and they love to create. I was able to crop down some of the wand pictures – I can’t publish pictures of the kiddos here on the InterWebs – but you can see some of the imagination that went into their wandmaking here, and that would make Mr. Ollivander proud.
Friday was the big finale: Harry’s Birthday party and a Horcrux Hunt! The Horcrux Hunt is just like my other weekly treasure hunts: I put up pictures of the Horcruxes, plus a bonus picture (the Deathly Hallows), and gave the kids sheets to find them and write down the number on each picture. Prizes were bookmarks, Oriental Trading craft kits, and temporary tattoos. For Harry’s birthday, I set up a few coloring stations and we made paper bag and book page owls, inspired by this French Harry Potter party site. It’s super easy! We used brown lunch bags for the owl’s body; pages from books destined for the garbage made up the ruffle in front. I traced circular objects of different sizes for the eyes, using the bottom of a small mug for the brown eye feathers, my 1″ hole punch for the whites of the eyes, and a bottlecap for the black of the eyes. I asked the kids to put their owls on a bookshelf when they were done, so we could take a picture of our owl post. It looked amazing!
Of course, no Harry Potter party would be complete without a HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WIZARD? Wanted poster, which I quickly whipped up with a poster board I had.
I am nothing, if not dedicated to getting kids excited about books.
All in all, I had between 30-50 kids take part in each day’s program, and everyone seemed really excited and happy. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is on several school reading lists this year, so I hope that the kids took away a little of the magic from the books. I do know that when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit shelves that Monday morning (we’re not open on Sundays, so the books stayed in a lockbox in my manager’s office), they were grabbed up quickly and joyously!
Thanks again to the wonderful bloggers and librarians that shared their ideas and helped me create a great program. I’ve got a Harry Potter party Pinterest board where I keep the pins I used and will add to for future parties, and you can check out my Harry Potter Week Google Drive folder for any printables that I used, all in one spot.