Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Herbology Comparisons


We've been seeing a lot of the Muggles' latest way to get along without magic of late. The Topsy Turvey is a hanging bag in which you grow your tomatoes upside down. All of us at HH are fascinated by this invention, but unwilling to pay what they charge to give it a go. Then last night I was chatting with Kell (a Minnesotan Hogwarts Homeschooler) about this very thing, & she informed me that she was planning to make her own! Well if that doesn't have the makings of an Herbology project, I don't know what does.

From researching on the Mugglenet, I've seen many ways people have created their own upside down planters. The one Kell suggested; & the one we'll be using here at HH; is the reusable grocery bag. Of course you should poke around, to find the planter that best suits you & the ages of your students. For instance: Some use plastic buckets that require drilling. If you dig that sort of thing, or have older kids, then you should choose to go that route. I'm lazy, & have extra grocery bags, hence my choice. The bag needs to be the more durable of the reusable ones. Ours came from a Muggle shop called Trader Joe's, is made of a woven plastic, & has strong handles.

We shall plant one tomato plant upside down in the bag, & an identical tomato plant in a pot of the same size. Over the summer we'll compare how the plants are doing, making notes of any differences we see, (Those with gardens could even plant a third in the ground for observation - extra credit!). Your students can compare & track height, health, bugs, disease, size of fruits, number of fruits, taste of fruits, & so on. How does growing upside down affect the plant? The fruit?You get the idea.

What you'll need:

2 tomato plants (same variety, & size) - 1 sturdy, reusable grocery bag - 1 planter of the same size - potting soil - duct tape (optional)

Cut a small x in the bottom of your grocery bag. If you are concerned that over time the x will rip, reinforce it with duct tape. We'll be leaving ours to chance, so omitting that step. Remove your plant from it's pot, & gently poke it through the x. Now I don't think I have to say this, but just in case: You'll be poking the plant out through the x so it faces downward. Next fill the remainder of the bag with soil, water deep, & hang it in the sunshine from its handles.

Plant the other in the pot, & you're all set.

Suggestions: Choose a variety of tomato that  does well in a pot. Place your bag & pot in the same area., so the experiment will be more accurate. Water daily. Avoid placing them in a windy spot - tomatoes do not do well in wind. You can also do cucumbers this way, if your kids prefer them to tomatoes - Lemon Cukes are an excellent choice.

To Potterfy: Use Hogwartsy fonts, & parchment when creating your charts for keeping track of things. Send your Owls from Prof. Sprout. Change wording: water to gillywater, tomato plants to non-venomous-fruiting tentacular, & so on.

~Prof. Kat

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quicky Link

Hogwarts approved word searches:


Scroll down to the category "Medieval/Mythical". There you'll find a few different ones on Dragons, & one on Unicorns.

To be fair to the Muggle world, there are loads of great word searches on this site. I'm only paying attention to the Hogwartsy ones though ;-)

*Read the directions above each word search. These aren't your usual ones!*

~Prof. Kat

Saturday, April 4, 2009


At the moment we seem to be obsessed with eggs here at HH - & why not?! Spring is an eggcellent (you didn't expect me to resist that, did you?) time for using eggs in all sorts of lessons. The most obvious being Spring itself. There is the symbolism of the egg to the ancients in Spring; which could lead to why the Easter Bunny brings eggs should you be so inclined. Had I written this sooner, you could have attempted to get an egg to stand on one end during the Equinox - oops.


So far we've kept our eggperiments (again!) fairly basic. Ater all, Prof. Pia is busy with her CHN political career, & I'm still brewing that babe. Still we've managed to make it fun, & engaging enough for the kids. First we had Transfiguration, where they dyed miniature Dragon eggs in ingredients from the kitchen. All you need do is Mugglegoogle to find the how-to, but here is one that is pretty good.


Your younger students won't need more than the activity itself to make them happy. Don't forget to Potterfy the ingredients! Had I not forgotten to, I would have made Knockturn Alley labels for the dye ingredients. As you can see from the photo, I was forced to say they'd been altered to appear like regular Muggle items. The kids didn't buy that, but they appreciated the effort, then proceeded to come up with their own Potterfications - the chili powder was freeze-dried phoenix blood.  **From one parent to the next - turmeric stains tile!**


Older kids can go further into it, learning the chemistry, experimenting with colors & time, & even looking through the kitchen to see if they can come up with dyes of their own. If you have traditional dye on hand, you could have them dye some miniature Dragon eggs in those colors, & discuss why the colors are more intense than the natural dyes. Left to work on their own, our students discovered that the least effective dye was the boiled spinach. They also discovered the difference between spinach & chard, when they first picked the wrong plants from our little farm.


Photo :: property of HH
Photo :: property of HH


An Herbology lesson we had planned, was to grow grass in eggshells. I was ready to do just that, when I came across these ceramic eggshells! They are meant to be painted, but our kids opted for permanent markers. The eggs came in a dozen, so when they were done with theirs, they decorated the rest to be given away to their friends.

Another change we made to this lesson, was to plant Giant Sunflower seeds instead of grass. They'll have to keep measuring their plants once sprouted, so they can be transplanted to the garden when ready. The plan is to have them keep track of the growth through the summer; starting with a ruler, then a yard stick, then finally switching to measuring tape. If you do this project with the very young students, stick with wheat grass - the seeds sprout within just a few days.
Photo :: property of HH
Photo :: property of HH


There are many more ways to use eggs in your lessons this Spring. Here are a few ideas to get your brain bubbling:

Dragon Study - Dad Can Do has quite a few Dragon Egg projects. It is a pay-to-use site now, but very worth the annual fee. I've corresponded with the site's owner, & he is charging out of necessity, not greed. He also seems like a very nice man. I signed up for membership, because the projects he comes up with are mind-boggling! Plus he hasn't said as much, but I suspect he's a Wizard.

Potions - Magically remove the shell from an egg. Here is a good how-to; use the raw egg though, it's vastly more Hogwartsy. You can even use their Muggle eggsplanation (haha), & Potterfy it. This site has a few egg-lessons; all look easily Potterfiable.

Care of Magical Creatures - what creatures from Harry's world came from eggs? Now would be the perfect time to study them!

Cooking (whatever name you've come up with) - Get out your cookbooks, & teach the kids to make all your favorite egg dishes! Cooking is so easily Potterfied, & teaches science, & math without even trying. If you dyed as many eggs as we did, you'll probably want to stick with Dragon Egg Salad Sammiches or Bedevilled by Voldemort Eggs.

As we always say - you're only limited by your imagination.

~Prof. Kat