Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Session Notes - Before You Get Started

There are some things you need to decide before you hand out robes & wands, (& after you read the Harry Potter books yourself.)

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, etcWe'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.



  1. Absolutely brilliant! I really enjoyed your session at the Expo! This HP-loving mama is just dying to get started! :)

  2. hogwartshomeschoolAugust 7, 2008 at 1:12 AM

    Thanks Amanda! Your excitement is just what we like to see. We're going to get all the session notes up as soon as is wizardly possible - but if you need help with anything before that happens, just ask.