Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Welcome back! We trust you had a most magical holiday break. As much as we love to extend the merry-making, it's time to get back to work.
This month our theme is "China"! With such a long, rich history, China lends itself to Hogwarts with little Potterfication.
Some of the things we'll be studying this month:
Transfig: Paper lanterns
Dragon Study: Asian Lung
Divination: Reading tea leaves
Muggle Studies: A trip to Chinatown.
Special lesson from Dumbledore: the Phoenix
Chinese New Year (the year of the ox) falls on the 26th of January this year. If you're lucky enough to have a Chinatown near you, find out when they're having their parade, & add that to your calendar. Loud parades not your thing? Don't be sad at missing out, because the celebrations generally last for days - there is sure to be something for your family.
Websites: Chinese New Year, Dragon Study
Books: Happy, Happy Chinese New Year!, The Boy Who Painted Dragons, Made in China: Ideas and Inventions from Ancient China, You Wouldn't Want to Work on the Great Wall of China!
If you follow any of the book links, then scroll down to see Amazon's suggestions, you'll find loads of books on the same topic. We cannot tell you how many amazing books we've stumbled upon this way.
As soon as lessons get completed, we'll have them up for you to use. In the meantime, see what you can come up with on your own. Are your students teeny? If so, focus on Chinese crafts & food. Older kids will enjoy both of those, but will get so much out of all China's history has to offer. Definitely look into all the inventions that hail from China! Perhaps the head of a Chinese Wizarding school could send some lessons? A cultural exchange project?
Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Friday, December 5, 2008
A few weeks ago they had a COMC field trip to a miniatures shop. Our kids are mad for The Borrowers, & each keeps his/her own dollhouse for the illusive little people. This trip was not only to see what amazing miniatures there were out there, but to give them ideas for what they themselves can make.
Being so close to the holidays, we HHMamas took turns sneakily purchasing tiny treasures for them. Um... them the kids, not them the borrowers.
Think of all the things to be learned via the world of miniatures. There is scale, architecture, history, furniture styles, & if you are lucky enough to work on a posh dollhouse you can learn how to wire it! Our kids are not so lucky.
So what is going on near you? Where would you usually be going this time of year, or where have you always wanted to take the kids? First make a list of where you want to go, then sit down with your calendar, & choose your dates. That really is the hard part. Potterfying is easy once you get started; & like I said at the beginning of this post; if you are too overwhelmed with holiday spirit just put them in their uniforms, & head out the door.
Tip: If you have a Waldorf school near you, go to their winter faire. They usually focus on a magical winter; faeries, elves, gnomes; rather than a religious holiday. (If you live in Los Angeles, you can meet the HHMamas at Ocean Charter's Winter Faire: December 13th 12606 Culver Blvd., Mar Vista. We'll be in the Dragonfly Artisans booth.)
I think we have things under control over here, & to prove we've not abandoned you to the Muggles, you can now find the long promised snowflake lesson in the classrooms.
Please note: You can use string, or even embroidery floss in this lesson - we use fishing line, because it's clear.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I know we've only just begun November, but we HHMamas have to plan it all now. The three of us belong to an artisan co-op, & need to use all our free time (haha did i say 'free time'?) getting ready for a December show.
So what did we plan? For the in-uniform classes they shall make ornaments out of applesauce/cinnamon dough (to give away at a party later in the month,) & they'll build gingerbread houses. The instructions for both these activities will be posted closer to December.
The home-study class is to be a snowflake Potions lesson. We did this last year, & it was too amazing not to do again. The PDF for this will also be posted later. We'll make sure to get it to you before December, so you'll have plenty of time to ready your lessons.
One thing we'll be doing this December, is something Pia came up with last year. Instead of treats for her advent calendar, she had an activity listed for each day. I tried it as well, & not only was it great fun, it didn't add to the gift-frenzy of the holiday season. Her countdown is to Christmas, & mine to the Winter Solstice, but yours can be to whatever you'd like: Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, New Year, etc.
We did do many activities together last December, but this year we're having them mesh with HH whenever possible. When it's not, the kids can do them with their own families, but still have the excitement of knowing the others are doing the same. We are lucky with our HH in that our kids are the best of friends. I think that makes all of this so much more special to them.
Some other things easily Potterfied are: making clove-studded oranges, baking treats, decorating winter houses for the faeries, making soap, rolling beeswax candles for your menorah, or even writing a letter to Santa. As usual, your only limit is your imagination. If you have an activity, or field trip you want to do, but just cannot think of how to Potterfy it, you are always welcome to e-owl us for help.
Make it easy on yourself this holiday season, & incorporate what you'll already be doing into HH. Nothing ruins the holidays like a mama who is too busy to enjoy it herself. If your students are small, don't forget that visiting Santa Claus is very HH - according to my son, he's an even more powerful wizard than Dumbledore :-)
We'll be resuming classes this week, so will be able to get back to regular HH lessons & information. Thanks for being so patient!
** Edited to add :: Christmastime is important in the world of Harry Potter. To get into the spirit; or for ideas more closely linked to the story; check out the chapters that take place during Christmas. **
Thursday, October 23, 2008
October has been a dreadful month for HH. One of our families is on their second round of Pertussis, which has brought all classes to a halt. Not to worry about the family though; they are all on the upside of the pestilence.
We've still been able to do our at-home activities at least. The kids were sent Owls, asking that they read about dragons & jewels in The Dragonology Handbook. They were each sent a few jewels to bury in their yard (or at the campsite for one student) after. My son & I took it a bit farther, & researched the gems mentioned in the Handbook. He took it farther still, & went rummaging in my jewelry cabinet, to see if i had anything we'd read about (I don't.) This could be followed up by a visit to the Gem Room, at the Natural History Museum, or even a jewelry shop. Personally, I would look for an antique shop that has a lot of jewelry before a modern jewelry shop; because the old, ornate pieces could better inspire the kids to make up stories about dragons of long ago.
Our next at-home lesson is to be Crystal Wands. Click on that hotlink, & it shall take you to the PDF for it. The White Crystal, granulated asked for is regular sugar, & Gillywater is what we call tap water in any lesson requiring it. Print the Owl as-is, or alter it to suit your style. We suggest whatever font you use for Potions Owls & Lessons. If you like to live on the edge, you can add a drop of food coloring to the mixture. The other HHMamas are wild like this, but I prefer stainless Potions.
Here are some other lessons & activities you could do in October:
Dia de los Muertos: (History of Magic) learn the history of Catholicism in Mexico, (Potions) make Mexican food or sugar skulls, (Muggle Studies) attend a festival.
Hallowe'en: (Herbology) carve pumpkins & roast the seeds, (History of Magic) read about Hallowe'ens origins, study ancient Ireland, research why we now wear costumes & make your own. Don't forget to have a safe, & happy Hallowe'en!
Hopefully all HHFamilies will be well soon, & things will be back to normal here at HH for November classes. What have all of you been doing this month? We'd love to hear from you.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
As behind as we find ourselves, all must declare Pirate Month a glorious success! The kids had a great time, learned geography, history, went through an entire book of pirate Mad Libs, & much more. Professor Lupin was pleased to learn they saw Pirate Wizards hiding at Disneyland, the LA County Fair, & even camping!
That last one was the most fun: on an early morning walk, I (Kat) discovered a tall ship anchored just off the coast - no seriously! Later I told the kids about it, & casually wondered aloud if it could have been a small pirate ship. That was all they needed to get their imagination going. By the time we headed back to the beach, they had convinced themselves they were about to come upon actual pirates! As we got closer, my son suggested we shimmy up the sand dune on our bellies; lest we be spotted from the crow's nest. We dropped to the ground, & shimmied like any good pirate-hunter should. After spying on the 'pirates', & discussing whether they were looking for buried treasure or the poor soul they'd just made walk the plank, we went back to our camp. A truly successful piratey mission.
The wrap-up to Pirate Month had nothing to do with us. Two of the kids heard of modern-day pirates on the news! It was nice of the news to help out.
Our official start of term kicks off with a month devoted to studying the beginnings of Hallowe'en, & how it evolved through history. We had to postpone our first class this past week, because one of the kids was quite sick. Shan said that Madame Pomfrey had looked the child over, & assured she'd be well in no time. Once we are able to meet for a lesson, we'll let you know how it went. Until then, we would absolutely LOVE to hear how your HH is going.
Monday, September 22, 2008
We had fun reading your comments as they came in; learning which characters you liked & why. Thank you all for taking part in our first official HH drawing.
The HH Mamas are leaving tomorrow for a week-long camping trip, so there shall be no new posts until the weekend. Have a lovely week, & keep up your studies.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
October is nearly here, & for HH that means the start of the new year. The cobwebs have mostly been cleared away, the uniforms have been dug out of the strangest of places, & all is in readiness for another year of magic & learning.
As we promised earlier this summer, we are celebrating the start of term with a fantastic give-away! Our GB (generous benefactor for those just joining us) has donated the beautiful wand you see pictured above. The wand tip lights when flicked, or gently tapped. Repeated motions dim or brighten the glow. You do of course have to say "Lumos" when doing so, but you already knew that. In the off chance that the winner lives deep in the Muggle community, we shall include the necessary batteries to ensure the wand works as it should.
To win you need only leave a comment, telling us who your favorite HP character is, & why. The winner shall be chosen by a random number generator magic, so don't worry about impressing us with your answer. We happen to think all our readers are brilliant anyway.
We want to make sure everyone has a chance to win, so the drawing shall take place on the 22nd of this month - the Autumnal Equinox! Good luck to you all.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The kids were excited when they received their Welcome Letters from Prof. Sinistra. Even more thrilling was the last-minute field trip to the Planetarium. Dressed as Muggles, the children sat transfixed through the entire show. Their only sounds were whispers, oohs, & aaaahs. All three have already asked when we can go to the giant observatory on the hill.
Yesterday they each received a package from Prof. Sinistra. Inside was a folder that contained a lesson: Charting the Stars for Navigation, & a Star Chart. It's brilliant really. She (Pia) has set the chart with one country/city per month. On the 15th of each month, they are to go to this site, follow the directions to get where they need to be, & type in the city/country listed. They then will print out the sky view for that place & time, & fill the information on the chart requested. Didn't I tell you? Brilliant. She is working on getting this in PDF for you.
The web is filled with Astronomy sites, & information. If you click the black box beneath Astronomy Tower, it shall take you to the daily moon phase site that we use. Even the HH Mamas enjoy seeing where the moon is each day, & have the widget on our personal blogs. *note :: Wordpress does not like some widgets, & will mess with their code. If you want to see what it looks like normally, look here.* It's nice to be connected to the world around (or above) us.
Hopefully Astronomy will continue to delight the kids - we'll keep you posted.
Because it didn't take much work to create the DADA Pirate lessons, we actually did semi-formal classes today. Unofficially that is. I (Kat) held a Charms class. For our HH Charms is: languages, story-telling, & things along that line. We did Mad Libs! Yes, you read correctly, Mad Libs. They are great for teaching smaller children nouns, & their ilk. The older kids, & even teens, will benefit from the practice.
If you held your mouse over the link you will have seen we stuck with our DADA theme, & used a Pirate version. We focused their minds even further by telling them that nouns, pl. nouns, body parts, famous people, & that sort had to be things found in the HP books. We highly recommend using Mad Libs; store bought, or self-created. They require you to think, they are simple & portable, & most of all, they get everyone laughing.
After lunch, Shan talked to them about parrot/pirate connection, & had them create their own parrots from printables, & toilet paper tubes. A craft is the perfect thing to follow a lesson. The students minds are buzzing from all they heard, or what they did, & a craft after allows them to chat amongst themselves about it, & just unwind. If you don't have teenies in your classes, we suggest explaining what you want the kids to do, ask if they have any questions, then leave them to it. Poke your head into their craft area every so often, but they'll have more fun without a Professor lurking.
The kids enjoyed the day, & the HH Mamas managed a bit of relaxing - I call that a success!
(Happy birthday Prof. Shan!!!)
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Even though our official HH classes don't begin until next month, we are doing DADA, so thought it only proper to sing the school song. We still shan't hold our drawing for the gorgeous wand until October though, so keep your bloomers on.
How are things going for everyone? The HH kids began receiving Owl Post over the weekend, & have been beside themselves! In addition to DADA activities, Owls from Professors have started arriving; welcoming them back to HH.
We are still wrestling with the Muggle PDF file-creator, so haven't as much for you as we'd hoped. However, if you plan on teaching Dragon Study, there is now a letterhead (From the Desk of Charlie Weasley) that you are welcome to use. As always, try to have your letters reflect the personalities of the Professors who send them. Check the Classrooms for more files every so often. Once the PDF curse has been lifted, there shall be a flood of them for your use.
"Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
Thursday, August 28, 2008
* Scary things. This can be anything your children are afraid of: dogs, ghosts, bugs, heights, etc. Turning a fear of the dark into a Dark Art to be fought, could be just the thing to help a child overcome it.
* Fantasy creatures. The HP books are filled with nasty creatures to study; read a little about them all, or choose one to study in depth. This class is a fantastic opportunity to read Greek and/or Roman mythology.
* Problems in the world. Older students especially could study racism, poverty, hunger, disease - touch on these subjects, then guide them toward coming up with ideas to solve these problems.
* Personal nasties.Do you have a child who could use a refresher course in hygiene? How about one with some bad habits you'd like broken asap? You could even turn a chore chart into your DADA lessons! We here at HH are convinced that You Know Who is to blame for the messiness of our children, & their lack of enthusiasm cleaning up after themselves.
We meant to have this for you sooner, but it turns out that PDF files baffle Arthur Weasley more than we thought they would. He's finally discovered how to turn documents into PDF files without the use of magic; but they become a tad wonky in the process. Hopefully Arthur shall soon figure out a way to fix that - for now we hope you don't mind the wonkiness overmuch. ** note - All PDFs for this subject can be found in the Classrooms/DADA section of our website.**
As we discussed before, our HH doesn't start until October. We do begin our homeschool year of themes in just a few day though; with a month of piratey fun! The nastiness of pirates was just too good to pass up, so Prof. Lupin (our favorite DADA teacher) has created some pre-term activities.
We're starting with an Owl from Lupin, giving students an extremely brief background on Pirate Wizards of old, & why he is writing about them now. You can find this (wonky-looking) Owl in the DADA Classroom; titled Owl From Lupin. In the same packet, they'll get gorgeous pirate print-outs from Ologyworld. If you want to print these fun activity sheets, you'll have to create a free account with them. The answers to some activities have to be looked up by the students, in their Pirateology Handbooks (see Library.) **Edited to add: It appears the answers are on the print-outs as well. Ink over the answers, before your child sees them. Ooops.**
The next Owl shall be from Durmstrang, announcing a celebration of that school's founding. This parchment shall be wrapped in brown mailing paper, along with a wooden pirate ship model kit - claiming it to be a replica of the founder's ship. That Owl too; in all its wonky glory; can be found in the DADA Classroom, titled Letter From Durmstrang. We found our kits at a fabric & crafts shop, for $2 each. Had I not been trying to stick to budget, I would have bought them all this beautiful kit!
Prof. Lupin wants them to help the hunt, so we shall search for Wizard Pirates at the county fair, go on a scavenger hunt in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, & hoist the Jolly Roger at a group camp-out.
As we come up with new ideas, & print-outs, we'll add them to the DADA Classroom; hopefully in their original state ;-)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Photo :: Property of HH
Today we met to set the schedule for the HH year; from what classes or field trips are on which days, to what exactly we shall be doing. It took a few hours to get everything on the calendar, but doing so means we don't have to scramble for lessons later. In the past we would set our schedule of classes, but leave the lessons to be decided as we went. Sometimes this worked, other times it was rubbish.
We are very excited with the classes & adventures we've got planned! As each month approaches, we shall post the coming schedule; along with tips, ideas, & resources. Then, throughout the month we'll share how it all went. Our hope is to have the lessons & other printables in pdf files, so you can print them without worrying over fonts & the like.
This year we shall teach the same subjects as last: Potions, Geomancy, Herbology, COMC, Transfiguration, & Dragon Study. Our new additions are: DADA, History of Magic, Astronomy, & Charms. We also have arranged projects to be sent by Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, & Molly Weasley. Exciting! I know it looks like quite a huge load of classes, but it isn't. Remember, we shall only meet twice a month, with the rest of the Fridays being home-study classes, or field trips. Over the course of the HH year it; & with some classes only offered once or twice; it isn't much at all.
* Keep a calendar with you at all times. Everyone has their own preferences, so use what works best for you. I (Kat) like a little 2-year calendar that doesn't take up much room in my bag. You may come across an event that would enhance your HH, so why not jot it directly to your calendar?
* Ditto a small notebook. Not just for quickly writing down ideas as they come to you, but also for running lists of wants & needs. Let us say you are at a museum's gift shop, & they are having a huge sale on art or science kits. You know there was something you wanted, but cannot recall what it was. If you have your list with you, there won't be any struggling to remember - & if you are anything like me; having to leave without the item, because you apparently have been hit with a memory charm.
* Order supplies all at once, & invite others to join you. This is where planning your lessons before the start of term comes in handy - you needn't waste money & time by placing smaller orders throughout the year. Having other people order with you cuts the shipping for everyone, & people appreciate not having to place orders themselves.
* Keep paper organized. You can house your lists, calendar pages, lesson plans, & any other papers in a binder or accordion file. It's just too easy to misplace loose papers; especially in a homeschool household. We recommend you choose one you can easily take with you, so you can work on things when out in the Muggle world: during classes, practices, rehearsals, or other occasions that have you waiting for your kids. This year Pia is creating an elaborate system using an accordion file, & individual project folders.
* Boxes, baskets, & shelves are musts. You don't want to have your HH items strewn about the home; unless you have a House Elf of course. Not only is it messy, but how ever will you find things when you need them? Shan is lucky enough to have a giant bookcase in which she can store all her HH-related books, files, & magazines. I have a thing for wooden boxes, & baskets, so that is how I keep it all in order. What for me has been most helpful is a large basket to house everything I shall need for that month. Currently in the basket: pirate books, a treasure map, a book on the Caribbean, a wooden model of a pirate ship, 'Wizard-in-Training' pins for the kids, my calendar, & my binder. In my homeschool file box I keep a few HH files for labels, print-outs, etc.
That's it for today. How are you doing? Is everything set for your HH school year? Please let us know :-)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Photo :: Property of HH
Just like the rest of you, we at HH are scrambling to ensure all is in readiness for the start of term. The cost of Muggle petrol being what it is, (our classes were held at Shan's who lives in the boonies) we've had to completely alter how we had been running HH. This year we'll not meet weekly. Instead, we plan to meet twice a month, & have the other two weeks be either home study classes (with the project shared at the next class,) or field trips.
To match what we are doing with the rest of our homeschooling activities, we've decided to eliminate our rotating 6 classes, & go with monthly themes. This accomplishes a few things: it allows us to add more Professors, & we can have HH be an extension of what we're already doing each month. Please don't get me wrong; creating a traditional HH is great fun, & easy to do. We all just felt the need to do less & focus more this term in our homeschooling, so decided to take HH along for the ride. We shall see how it goes.
So themes. We don't officially start our HH until October, but as there are some fun field trips going on in September, we're proclaiming them Official HH Class Trips. Our theme for Sept. is to be Pirates! If the kids point out there weren't pirates in HP, we'll remind them they did not read Hogwarts, A History. Had they done so, they would have read about the dreaded Wizard Pirate (no name yet) from the Caribbean.
Being pirate-lovers, there were already a few pirate books at my (Kat) house: Piratepedia, & How I Became a Pirate. We added to our collection: Caribbean Pirates, Everything I Know About Pirates, The Great Pirate Activity Book, Pirateology, & Pirateology Handbook. Before you start thinking I'm rolling in Galleons, I should let you know that I ordered them all from Amazon's used section. All but one came looking as though they'd never been opened, let alone read. I recommend this option for purchasing books. Usually the book costs vastly less than s&h ($4)!! If you cannot, check your library.
The last two books listed got me thinking about Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA.) I feel confident that pirates fall into that category. The Pirateology Handbooks is education hidden in a fun how to hunt pirates story. Perfect! Learning the parts of the ship, how to tie knots, map-reading, etc.
Because our HH isn't in session for pirate month, I haven't any Potterfied lessons for you. I can give you a few things we've found searching around the Muggle Web though.
Here is a cute map. The top version is the Wizard-sized map; the others are meant for dollhouses (or faeries!) You can use the map as is for ambiance, or to inspire you in creating a map of your own. Hunting for buried Philosopher's Stones would be a great end to a map-reading lesson.
If you can tolerate Veggie Tales; which I love, but other HH Mamas not so much; you'll find games, printables, & a certificate to earn after learning to talk like a pirate - here.
ABC Teach has a page of piratey links; activities & lessons for the tiny students on up to the teens. Just a little Potterifciation, & you're good to go. Don't forget to print them onto parchment!
Still unsure how to incorporate pirates into HH? There is the DADA bent we discussed earlier; couldn't you just see Mad Eye Moody teaching Pirate Hunting? Watch yer back arrrrgh! Reading pirate fiction for Charms, or non-fiction for Prof. Binns' History of Magic class. Find something that you want to do, & figure out in which class to stick it!
Don't forget: International Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19th!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
At Recycle Email there was:
Session Notes - Care of Magical Creatures
You can build the houses from scratch, using items you find on nature walks, or even from your recycle bin. Better yet, you can purchase inexpensive bird houses, & embellish the day away. Paint, glitter, tiny treasures, shells, moss, …
Hogwarts Homeschool - http://hogwartshomeschool.wordpress.com
Then at And sometimes I blog:
Although I missed the specific session at the Expo, I have been intrigued by the notion of doing a version of "Hogwarts Homeschooling".
Thank you! This is even is better than the time we were mentioned in Witch Weekly! The rest of you, go visit them please.
** Edited to add another lovely mention!**
Over at A Homegrown Life
You may or may not know that I'm a big Harry Potter fan. One of the sessions I attended at the homeschooling conference was about how to homeschool Harry Potter-style.
Visit her blog for more of that post. Her passion for creating HH is fabulous!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
There are two ways Pia uses her COMC classes: to teach about creatures in the magical world, & to teach about creatures in the Muggle world. The creatures in the first category are easy to list: unicorns, trolls, boggarts, elves, etc. I'm sure you can think of a dozen more without even trying. To give you an idea of what you can do, let's focus on faeries.
I don't know how much your kids know about faeries; if it's not much (& if not, where are your priorities?), you'll need to start with the basics. By the time we began COMC, our kids considered themselves experts on the subject, so Pia was able to jump right in.
Get a few books to read to them, or have them read on their own. You won't have to look very hard at the library or bookshop; faeries are quite popular these days. Trusty Google shan't let you down either. There are books that run the gamut from light-hearted stories, to books for the serious faeryologists.
You've gotten the basics out of the way, & are surrounded by faery experts of your own - now the fun can begin. You shall want to encourage faeries to visit, so you'll need little houses. Ask your students to think about what type of home a faery would choose in the city, as opposed to the country. Encourage them to consider where you live, and in what type of home. How does that change their original idea of a faery home? Get out the paper & colored pencils, & get drawing!
Building the faery home is such great fun, that you'll want to build one of your own along with them. The number of faery dwellings the HH Mamas have built, far surpassed that of our kids long ago. Here is a gorgeous book of faery homes for inspiration. You can build the houses from scratch, using items you find on nature walks, or even from your recycle bin. Better yet, you can purchase inexpensive bird houses, & embellish the day away. Paint, glitter, tiny treasures, shells, moss, bark, acorn caps; our students have used it all. Check your large, chain craft shops for these houses. We've found ones ranging $1 to $9, & we're always keeping an eye on sale flyers to buy more.
Other ways you can incorporate faeries into lessons learned: cooking = faery food (bite-sized food), sewing = faery costumes (yes there are boy faeries my son will tell you), classic literature = a midsummer night's dream, math = how tall is a faery home compared to a human home... & so on. You could even host a movie day, & discuss the differences between Tinkerbell in Hook & in the animated Peter Pan. I'll stop there; because if I don't, this will be the post that never ended.
Now we come to the magical creatures of the Muggle world. What magical creatures? you ask. Lady bugs, butterflies, spiders, & their ilk! Do we have you thinking creatively now? Isn't it easy once you think beyond the obvious? Let's talk about my son's favorite magical creature: his pet betta.
Hagrid; by way of Pia; sent each student a book titled Care O' Magikal Creetures Booklet: Betta. In it was everything they needed to know, to raise & care for a betta fish. The information was taken from an amazing website, then Potterfied. Also sent was a request they each purchase a betta to care for, & a list of items they'd need. Pia went all-out, & gave them little jars with Potterfied labels; freeze dried toad warts, merefolk tears, etc; in which to house their supplies.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much my son has learned from caring for his beloved betta. Our Homeschooling doesn't involve worksheets, or lessons beyond HH, so for him, the care has been the on-going education. If you want more, you can have them complete print-outs of various fish, keep a journal of their betta's eating or playing habits, chart how quickly the water becomes dirty in summer vs. winter, & so on. You could follow up with a field trip to the aquarium if you like. You're a Homeschooler, you know what to do.
We say it often, because it's the core of what we do: use your child's love of Harry Potter to teach them. Don't put education in one pile & fun in another; & don't be restricted by what you see before you, alter it, tweak it to suit - the only limit to their learning through HH; or at all; is your own imagination.
Monday, August 11, 2008
**We hope to have the individual classrooms up soon; where you shall find sample lessons, articles with tips & ideas, & our reviews of things we tried.**
By now you should know what you'd like to teach. You may not have the details sorted, but you know what subjects need to be covered. If you haven't gotten that far, you might want to come back to this article at a later date.
Once you know what it is you want to teach, start looking at books, magazines, & websites for the information you need. It's no different than if you were looking up lesson ideas or plans for regular Homeschooling.
Are you using HH to teach the usual subjects: math, science, reading, writing, etc? Is your plan to have HH be extra, just for fun? If you know this already, that will tell you for what you need to be searching. Still unsure? - look in our Library for the books & sites we regularly use.
What are the ages of your students? Tiny kids will like coloring pages, connect-the-dots, letter tracing, & simple crafts or experiments. The young set can handle actual lessons, & more complicated activities - with or without reading & writing. For teens you'll get to do some seriously wicked fun. We at HH have children ranging from tinies to youngs - we're looking forward to the more complex things to come!
You've decided what lessons, crafts, & activites you want to do; now what? This is where Potterfication comes in. Instead of trying to explain it, i'll walk you through a Dragon Studies lesson we did a few months back. We knew we were going on a field trip to the Natural History Museum, so I (Kat) began looking for information on Ptersosaurs. I came across a brief article online; to which I have since lost the link. Owner! If you recognize your work, contact us, so we can give you credit. I then copied the page into Word, & began altering it to suit our needs. Here is the result (Charlie Weasley my additions in italic) :
Image :: Property of Wikipedia
PTEROSAURS OR DRAGONS?!!
According to Muggle experts known as Paleontologists:
The flying reptiles are called the pterosaurs. They lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, through the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, and probably evolved from the same ancestors as the dinosaurs. Although they originally thought that the pterosaurs were gliders, they now think that many of them could flap their wings, and could probably fly quite well.
Pterosaurs (the names means ‘winged lizards’) belong to the extinct order Pterosauria. Like the dinosaurs, it is thought that they may have been warm blooded. The pterosaur wingspan ranged from 6 inches to 40ft, depending on the species, and their wings were leathery membranes stretching from the body to the end of the elongated fourth finger, which supported each wing (think ‘bat wings’.) Pterosaurs probably ate fish and possibly insects.
From there information gets bloody confusing, and totally boring. It all sounds realistic, and very official, but I don’t believe it for one moment. If you ask me…Dragons one and all.
Go to the room that houses the bones of these so-called Winged Lizards. Look them over, read the information, then chat about it. You should have brought your Dragonology Handbook; which species on page 13 looks the most like what you see in the room? On a Dragon Chart, have a Parent help you chart whichever one you chose.
** Please be careful if there are Muggles close enough to hear you**
Image :: Property of ???
We had a fabulous time with this lesson. The kids paid much more attention to what they were seeing in the Pterosaur room than they had on previous visits, & they learned quite a bit. Using the chart, they really got into measuring the creature, & excitedly talked together, comparing notes. Don't worry that we were teaching the children misinformation, the belief that pterosaurs were in fact dragons shall not go with them through life. One day they will stop believing on their own. For now they are excited, & that excitement is leading to actual things learned - & that is what this is all about.
If your students are older, you could have them write a report on their comparisons; or flex their imagination, & have them write a letter of complaint (do not mail it, or at least don't let the trail lead back to us, ha!) to the museum, listing all the reasons they believe the pterosaurs are mislabeled. Think creatively!
Tiny kids don't need the Potterfied lesson. Print some coloring pages of pterosaurs, & dragons that look like them before you head to the museum. Visit the room, ask if they see anything that looks like a dragon, encourage them to talk about it, or even sit them quietly in the corner to read a short dragon story. When you go to the picnic area for lunch, pull out the coloring pages & crayons, & let them have at it!
Do you get the idea? This is so easy, & if you think about it, it's as much fun to create as it is for them to experience. Now it's your turn -- Go Potterfy!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Get ready to unleash your multiple personalities! In addition to letters from Hogwarts, you can send letters from professors, shop owners, officials, or any characters you feel would lend themselves to a lesson or project.
For starters, you'll need the official Hogwarts letter; one for each child. You can copy this directly from the first book, write your own version, or alter the original to suit your version of HH. Assuming you want it to look authentic; you'll need the crest at the top (there are 2 versions in this post,) a font that you like (don't make it too fussy,) & you should have the text be dark green. We at HH don't bother with the fancy envelope, as all post arrives in the tubes we described previously. A pretty red ribbon would be a nice substitute for the wax seal, or with a wax seal even. Here is the wording we used our first year:
Hogwarts Charter School
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc,. Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at our newly-formed Hogwarts Charter School.
Unlike students here at Hogwarts, you shall not attend classes with Hogwarts Professors directly. Instead, lessons are to be created and overseen by our Professors, and taught by qualified Parents.
You have been sorted into Gryiffindor. As Head of Gryffindor House I would like to extend a personal welcome to you.
Your classes have been chosen, and your Professors shall send their own Owls shortly.
Term begins on 1 of October. Please see that all is in readiness.
(handwriting font) Minerva McGonagall,
Charter students are not required to wear a uniform, but must remember to dress appropriately when out amongst Muggle.
The WandMaker’s Guidebook by Coralis, Master WandMaker
1 Wand (see WandMaker’s Guidebook)
*Please note that Professors will inform you of all that they require.
Students may also bring an OWL or a RAT or a CAT or a TOAD.
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST-YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS.
You see that we stuck to the wording & feel of the letter Harry received, but we changed things to match our HH.
A sample of a letter they might receive from an individual:
~ Year One ~
There will be no silly wand-waving in this course. If you were hoping to learn to brew love charms, understand there shall be no such nonsense in my Potions class.
I have been assured that you attempted a few feeble brews over the Summer, and managed to not blow yourself up. Because of this, I have agreed to allow you a spot in Potions – Year One.
To maintain your spot you must adhere to the following rules:
1) Wash your hands before and after each class.
2) Follow the instructions exactly as given.
3) Keep a written record if instructed to do so.
4) Put no potions in your mouth, nor near your face.
5) Pay attention!
Your lessons shall be sent to Dandelion Cottage, and are to be taught by Prof. ________. She is only teaching on my behalf – I am still in charge! Do not give her reason to contact me with complaints of your behavior.
If you will need to know anything before a class, or if I have reason to contact you, I shall send an Owl to your home directly. I trust you have already set up your Porch Mail. If not, do so immediately. Lost Owl Post will not excuse you.
(handwriting font) Prof. S. Snape
- Potions Master, Head of Slytherin
Other letters can come from: Charlie Weasley (dragon study), Flourish & Blotts (quill making), Diagon Alley (order forms), & so on. Once you get used to doing this, the ideas for letters are sure to start pouring in.
You can also send lessons via Owl, but that's for another day.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
This is the part that makes the HH Mamas as giddy as if put under a Cheering Charm that went a little too far. None of the below is required, but it does enhance the experience. We don't want you to feel badly if going all-out just isn't for you. That said...
* Wands. As we've mentioned in the past, this is the most important accessory. I've not yet met an HP fan who does not long for a real, working wand (HH Mamas included.) OK I lied above, this part is required. We won't ban you from HH, but your kids really do need wands to be proper Witches & Wizards. There are different types of wands you can purchase: plastic (cheap to pricey,) or wood (moderate to pricey.) If you're shopping online, check out one of the shops we list, or Google "Harry Potter wands." Locally your largest selection will be at Hallowe'en costume shops. If you don't want to purchase wands, you can make them yourself. Better yet, let it be a class project, & have your kids make their own. We recently wrote about a brilliant wand craft, you could even glue wooden beads to the end of a wooden dowel, or you can paint twigs with glitter as we did last summer. Below you see the table we set, ready for wand-making. I (Kat) made the little bags, so they could hang their wands from their belts, or belt loops. Were I to make them again, they would be thinner & longer. The Olivander's tags were made by scanning the image from a coloring book we owned. (I've checked everywhere, & I cannot find a link for the book. We'll make sure one of the images we scan later will be this one.)
** Photo :: Property of HH
* Uniforms. Offering uniforms is up to you. We've done HH without uniforms, & the kids did not seem to mind. However, when we told them we'd continue offering classes after summer, they insisted on uniforms. You can purchase the costumes, some are well made. If you sew, you can also make them quite easily. We created ours from thrift shop finds. It's the least expensive, & has turned into the most fun option. My son owns the school robe that his Grammie sewed from a pattern, & an Invisibility Cloak his Auntie Rubelin & I designed. The rest is all thrifted. White blouses, button-up shirts, & even t-shirts are in abundance at thrift shops, so you needn't worry about finding those. For the summer sessions we've had them wear khaki bottoms, & black for the regular school terms: pants, clam-diggers, skirts, & shorts. Sweaters & sweater vests are by far my favorite to create. I buy them; black or dark gray; & use fabric paint to add stripes of color at the collar (red & yellow of course.) Once they put those on, they look like they are on their way to catch the Hogwarts Express. Extras are ties, scarves, cloaks - use your imagination! The key is to look at clothing not just for what it is, but what it could be. My son has a summer cloak that i made from a woman's black skirt. It was long, & full, so had enough fabric. It was also already split down the front, as it was a buttoned skirt! I took it in greatly at just the back of the waistband, & in 10 minutes he had a cloak that he could run around in when the weather was hot.
*Containers. We have some serious fun creating these. The ingredients you use for Potions look fabulous when set out in altered jars. If you want to give them a try, start saving jars of all sizes from food. Baby food jars are great when you need very little of something. For ingredients used often; baking soda, salt; pickle jars work best. Soak the labels off, & make sure you clean the insides very well. Cut labels from parchment, or Muggle computer paper, & create your labels. If you aren't handy with a calligraphy pen, you can print your labels on one sheet, then cut them out. Get creative! Here are a few samples from my cupboard:
Syltherin Bone Dust - 100% Ground Bones of Slytherin Skeletons - Coarse Milled
Organic Gnome Droppings - Gathered Nightly
That would be Metamucil & raisins, respectively. Add a Diagon Alley or Knockturn Alley address, then affix it to your jar. At this point you can distress your label if you like. We've rubbed dirt on them, dabbed with damp tea bags, scratched at them - whatever popped into our minds. If you are a scrapbooker; as is Pia; I imagine you can make your labels very realistic. Should you want labels on jars, but want a more instant gratification, try Google. You're bound to find tutorials or photos. Remember to give credit to the creators if you show yours online. You can use other containers to enchancethe experience: wooden boxes (see the above photo,) jewelry boxes, tins, cigar boxes. Again, look at things differently. Some containers will need some altering, others will do wonderfully as they are. You should think about containers as you make your lesson lists; what will the students need? what would that professor have? what could hold the feathers, glue, soil, etc?
* Cauldrons. We cannot talk about containers, & not mention cauldrons. Any cauldron or kettle will do, should you want one for ambiance, or toting supplies. If you plan to mix your experiments within them, we insist you take care in what you use. Something flimsy would be unsafe, or make a mess were they to tear. We would also avoid those teeny ones you buy in packs for Hallowe'en favors. They're great for decor, but that's about it. If you will be eating or drinking any of your creations, use ONLY food-safe kettles, & NEVER one that has held inedible ingredients. Hallowe'en is just around the corner, so finding cauldrons & kettles is about to get very easy. Don't stick with costume shops & party supply stores; our favorite cauldron for mixing potions came from the Hallowe'en section of a pharmacy. We also use: black camping cook-pot, black bowls that have handles, & cauldronesque containers from the dollar store. If you want the real thing, you can find cast-iron ones online. Start looking at the following shops: craft, sewing, costume, party, pharmacy, camping, army surplus, & grocery.
*Pets. " Students may also bring an OWL or a CAT or a TOAD." Our kids were ecstatic picking out their animals. The HH menagerie consists of 2 owls, 1 cat, & 3 dragons (the dragons we'll talk about another day.) You can have them search through their stuffed animal collection, or buy new ones. Something fun to do: create a Diagon Alley order form, with the animals listed for choosing. You could even print photos of ones you'd be willing to buy; from a catalog or online. They could send their form via their Owl Post Box, & a few days later their new pets would arrive. As if by magic ;-) If your kids aren't into stuffed animals, then just skip this bit. If they are? We must warn you to be prepared - they will take their HH pets very seriously. There is; as I write this; a small owl in a Victorian cage, on the table next to my son's bed. The cage is kept latched, so the dragon in the basket next to it won't mistake the owl for lunch.... & my son is 10.
That's all for this installment. I imagine by now your mind is racing with ideas. Please come back, & tell us how your HH set up is going.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
1) How deeply do you wish to get into the magical world of Hogwarts? Some of you may be interested in nothing more than a few wizard crafts, or activities. Others may want the whole shebang: costumes, lessons, & as many props as you can manage. We suspect the majority will fall somewhere in between. Really give it some thought, taking care to consider your budget, as well as how much time you have to dedicate to it all. You should enjoy the experience as much as your kids.
2) Who will be in your classes, & how many professors will be involved? I (Kat) have taught just my child, led activities for a few kids, & am currently sharing professorial duties with my fellow HH Mamas; all versions were fun in their own ways. As with above, give this decision a lot of thought. Are you someone who prefers to share duties, or do you function better when everything falls on your shoulders? If you're easily overwhelmed, you probably should consider easing in your first year: going solo, & only instructing your own children. Those who burn-out easily, would be best suited to sharing duties with other professors. If it's the latter, consider having one parent run things to keep it all running smoothly. The HH Mamas & I have equal ownership, & say in everything we do, but I do the official HH work: letters from Hogwarts as opposed to individual professors, & the like.
3) What do you want your kids to get out of this? Interested in some fun crafts for Hallowe'en? Looking for HP-themed summer camp activities? Or are you hoping to sneak in learning whilst they are busy swishing & flicking? No matter which you choose, your Potter fans are sure to enjoy it, & they shall learn from it. Still, you need to choose: heavy on fun, or heavy on learning? Before you decide that, keep in mind how deeply you decided to get into Hogwarts. Heavy on learning, will require you to create lessons, or to Potterfy lessons you find - that does take time.
5) Create a schedule. How often do you want to meet, & will you offer the same classes each time or rotate? If this is just your family, use whatever calendar or date book works for you. If others are joining the fun; whether their parents are involved or not; think about creating a Yahoo, or Google group. This is the easiest way for more than one family to keep track. Pia recommends Yahoo, because she can print one calendar that shows all her Yahoo group activities.
6) What classes do you plan on offering? Assuming you've done all of the above, this part is easy. You can stick with classes mentioned in the books, or you can create your own. Depending on what you hope your kids come away with, you can pick fun activities to do, & decide what classes those fall into, or you can use Hogwarts classes to meet state requirements. As with all of the above: it's all up to you!
( Edited to add :: How old are your students? Hogwarts classes can be created for Potter fans of all ages; yes, even teens enjoy it; as well as for multiple ages in one class. )
You have figured out how deeply you want to go, who shall be teaching & taught, what your focus is going to be, & what & when classes will be offered. Now what?
1) Parchment. If you're going to use paper, why not parchment-colored paper? Kelly Paper is where we buy ours. They have locations in a few states, with the majority in California. I purchased a ream almost a year ago for just under $20, & haven't even begun to make a dent. The parchment really lends itself to the fun, but if it isn't in your budget, you will be fine with Muggle paper.
2) Fonts, fonts, fonts. Again, not a requirement, but the right fonts make things so much more interesting. We get ours from here; all free, & easy to download. Eventually we'll have a separate page with the fonts we use, ready for you to download. Use fonts that give the look of the class you're teaching, or if you're sending letters from professors, consider what fonts they'd use. For example: HH letters & lessons from Prof. Snape use the Parseltongue font.
3) Lessons. Start looking through books, magazines, & websites for lessons you'd like to do with your classes. Some of you may want to start off slowly; many people do variations of Hogwarts with their kids, so it won't be difficult to find things on the web, already created. If you go this route, remember that you need to adhere to rules & requests of the sites from which you get your lessons. I doubt you'll find a site that shows you how to do something, then requests you refrain - but you will have to give full credit where credit is due if you post all, or part of it on your own blog, or website. Ask us if you are unsure just what that means. Those of you going all-out; you'll need to learn to Potterfy. We use that term quite a bit (we did not coin it) around HH. To Potterfy means to take something, & tweak it so it appears to have come from the Harry Potter books. Some examples: baking soda to powdered cobwebs, cooking oil to basilisk spit, paper to parchment, or letters to owl post. Which brings us to...
4) A favorite of the HH students would have to be Owl Post. Letters from Hogwarts & professors, lessons, & even orders from Diagon Alley; all arrive via Owls. Each of our kids has their own Owl Post Box.If you were at the session you saw 2 of them. For the rest of you: The box needs to be large enough for rolled pieces of parchment. Mailing tubes, or those cylindrical potato crisp tubes would be perfect. If you want to go a little more fancy, wine bottle gift boxes work fabulously, & already have a cord with which to hang it. Let your kids decorate their own; unless you're the type who needs to do the decorating yourself. Don't feel badly if this describes you - 2 of the 3 HH Mamas fall into that description quite nicely. Now choose where this shall hang: tree, lamppost, on your porch, etc. We'll have an Owl Postsign you can print & hang as soon as Arthur Weasley figures out how to work a scanner.
That's all for now. It's quite a lot to think about, but you'll get there before you know it. If you have any questions, just ask. Come back soon, & we'll have the next installment of the Session Notes.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Over the next two weeks we shall be uploading session notes, checking that our library is complete, & adding a few Potterfied lessons to the classrooms. In the meantime, if you have any questions you are welcome to send us an e-owl.
Photo :: Property of noblecollection.com
In our session, we spoke briefly about wands; we cannot stress enough their importance. As we said on Friday, wands can be purchased, or they can be made - it's up to you. There are two reasons we mention wands today: so you aren't caught off guard when your little Witch or Wizard insists on them, & because of the above photo.
Isn't it a beautiful wand? It is solidly made (holly w/a phoenix feather) & the tip actually lights! Don't you wish you had such a wand? You can have!!!!!
This wand was one of the items donated by our generous benefactor (GB from here on.) We plan to offer it as a prize in a contest, in celebration of the start of term; details at a later date.
Thanks again for attending our session, & congrats to those who won the prizes.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Photo :: Property of HH
The wands turned out beautifully! The one pictured used 2 coats of brown paint, a little wash of black, & silver dust for the raised bits. We didn't like the flat feel of the paint, so the wand was sealed with Mod Podge. Unfortunately, doing so removed the silver from the raised bits - a silver gel marker fixed that quite easily.
We highly recommend this activity. Be careful playing with your wand around Muggles - they just might mistake it for the real thing.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
In addition to other items, they are selling the Troll/Delta Kids Potions & Spells Kits for 30% off their normal prices! We've used all kits at HH, & recommend them highly. Some of the experiments can be done by tiny students, but the majority are geared to children of a proper Hogwarts age.
I do not know how long this sale is to run, so if you're interested in the kits, I don't recommend hesitating.
If you aren't lucky enough to live near this fun shop, you can purchase items via their online shop. For the rest of you, they are located at 2717-1/2 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90403. They are open daily, from 11-5, until the end of August.
We go there on HH field trips, & the kids bring their saved galleons to purchase treats. To make a day of it, head to nearby Douglas Park (Chelsea & Wilshire) after for a picnic lunch. They have an old picnic table of Hagrid's in the sand area - make sure to look beneath it!
Dadcando.com has crafts just perfect for the witch or wizard in your life. On the top bar you'll find "making." Click on that, & it takes you to their craft section. Look to your left, & you shall see "Wizarding Certificates," "Moody's Mad Eye," & even this:
Photo :: Property of HH
Here are the directions for, & the beginnings of our "Wizard's Wands"!!! We've yet to paint them, but we have to say that so far the craft is fun, easy, & going exactly as they say it should. This will take you directly to the wand craft.
For each wand you need: 8.5 x 11 parchment (we used Muggle computer parchment), a low-temp glue gun, regular glue, double-sided tape, scissors, primer, & paints.
We veered a little off their directions at one point. When you snip the ends, fill your wand with stuffing. We used the generic stuffing you can find at any craft or sewing shop. Using skewers, we packed the stuffing quite tightly into the wands. That allowed us to use less glue at the ends, & gave the wand a little heft. As we added this on our own, it obviously is not necessary to make the wands.
When we've completed ours, I shall post photos. Once you've made yours, please leave a link to your photo in our comment section - we'd love to see your creations. Don't forget: It's levi-OH-sa, not levi-oh-SA.
In just a few days we shall be packing our trunks, & heading to the CHN Homeschool Expo!
We at Hogwarts Homeschool are very excited to be teaching a session this year. To protect the Wizard community we shall; of course; do our best to blend into the Muggle community. Our pets have been charmed to appear plastic or stuffed, our children have been instructed to do no magic whilst there.
Some of the items already packed:
Photo :: Property of HH
What is all of this? Why these are just a few items we shall be giving away as prizes in our session! We are also donating that gorgeous tote; filled with a surprise or two; to the Expo's raffle. Some items we shall be keeping for drawings here at Hogwarts Homeschool. SO EXCITING!
I cannot divulge the name of our generous benefactor, as he has asked to remain anonymous. Needless to say, we here at HH are thrilled beyond belief to be able to share his generosity with you.
See you at the Expo!
There isn't much to see yet, as we are still in the process of learning how to work with Muggle computers.
It's fascinating, but between Muggle gadgets not working properly in the Wizarding world, & Arthur Weasley constantly tinkering with things; well I'm afraid getting set up is taking vastly longer than we'd anticipated.
We hope to have everything ready for the start of term in Autumn. When completed, you shall find a full library, lessons in classrooms, exciting give-aways, & much more.