As the anticipation grows for the premiere of this week’s final installment of the Harry Potter movies, I thought I’d share an idea for a week-long Harry Potter Adventure you can do with your kids, or your friend’s kids, or kids you borrow just to do it because it’s so much fun.
There’s been a tradition in our family for the last several years to create an adventure while we vacation together—we create it for our kids to experience and it adds something even more magical to our week together and creates lasting memories. My sister-in-law Alicia and I created the first one together years ago: a pirate adventure. The kids dug up a small pirate chest in the sand, wore pirate costumes, spoke like pirates “arrrgghh,” etc. You get the picture. For the last couple of years, she’s taken the bull by the horns and masterminded other ones. However, unfortunately, this year she and my brother did not join us for vacation, and so the weight of the “adventure” fell on my shoulders as well as on my cousin Chrysti’s. It took some work, but I think we pulled off a memorable adventure even J.K. Rowling would be proud of; I thought I’d share it with those of you who are BIG Harry Potter fans.
How We Started—Day One, The Launch: We Were the Hogwarts School
The “adventure” started the first night we arrived at the beach. My husband and Chrysti’s husband took the kids up to the beach at dusk. Chrysti and I snuck into their room (the four kids sleep in a bunk bed room and they love it!) and decorated the room with twinkling lights and gold stars. We made a sign that read “Gryffindor” and hung it on the window of their room. On the entrance of their door, we made a sign that read “Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” These were created using the actual logos and were printed in color.
On their beds were wands that we ordered and each kid represented one of the characters: Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Harry. Additionally, each received a black book (journal) that I filled with word searches, facts about each character, and headlines indicating a notes area where they could journal about the “classes” they would be taking throughout the week. They spent their time before bed talking about their journals and began writing in them immediately. The excitement was building!
Day One: The Owls and Potions Class
On Day One, they each received a note from their own owls that were perched atop of the fireplace mantle (I bought these white Hedwig-looking owls at Babies R Us). Each owl’s note told them what they would do that day (so each day of vacation, the owl brought a letter). Additionally, there was a letter taped to the fireplace from Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore (my cousin Chrysti and I played these parts and even wore witch hats). We also added an “activity” to the day, along with the “class.”
Potions class was great. As was suggested by this website (http://www.ivillage.com/12-easy-ideas-wizard-worthy-harry-potter-birthday-party/6-b-139571#139574), we used mason jars and the “students” created potions out of the following ingredients:
Dried Beatles: Prunes in water
Gillyweed: Weeds in green water
Bats Eyes: Black lentils
Hallow Stump Soil: Dirt & water
Blind Cat Eyes: Cocktail onions
Blood Worms: Spaghetti with red sauce
Dream Fluid: Tea leaves and water
After we created the potions, we asked the “students” to guess what each does. They then wrote them in their journals.
Activity: The Activity for the day was to create, on the beach and out of sand, their own wizard or witch hat.
Day Two: Transfiguration Class
From a sheet of paper and using drawing utensils and crayons, students were asked to transform one thing into another. For example, Ginny (aka Ellie) transformed a drawn rock into a bird. Hermione (aka Jenn) turned a leaf into a frog. Ron (aka John) transformed a feather into a turtle. And Harry (aka Matt) transformed a mound of sand into a dog.
Additionally, each student colored in his owl that was placed into his journal and named him. These were very clever.
Activity: The Activity for the day was for students to begin working on a poem for Friday’s Final Feast and graduation from Hogwarts.
Day Three: Spells Class
Students received a list of existing Harry Potter spells in their books (I used the one from this website: (http://www.pojo.com/harrypotter/spelist.shtml). However, they were asked to create three of their own spells—they had to come up with a name for each and what each spell does.
Additionally, we used a cauldron and made our own spell that was offered by this site: (http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/recipes/magic_potion.htm).
We then recorded each kid’s demonstration of his/her spells.
Activity: Quidditch on the beach! We played with brooms that I purchased from Toys R Us and a gold whiffle ball. The kids had to ride their brooms and scored by getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
Day Four: Scavenger Hunt
The Weasley Family Clock (a small clock I had in the house)
Resurrection Stone (a stone my mother brought back from Alaska)
Maruder’s Map (I printed it off the internet)
Revealer (an eraser)
Salazar Slytherin’s Locket (a locket I had)
Port Keys (an old fashioned key with a red ribbon)
Enchanted coins (fake, plastic gold coins)
Poisonous candles (one stinky old candle I had)
Philosopher’s Stone (a blue, smooth shiny stone that belongs to my daughter)
(I bought a 6” action figure of Voldemort and we planted him at a store called “Try My Nuts.” They were so helpful and even included the kids on their website! Listed under Harry Potter Scavenger Hunt!)
As people watched us do our scavenger hunt, they asked if they could play, too!
Day Five: The Finale—The Final Feast and Graduation
On the last day the kids enjoyed a “Final Feast”—we played Harry Potter theme music and ate great food. Then, afterwards, the kids presented their poem and spells. The poem actually brought tears to my eyes. (see below)
To end the adventure, each child was graduated and our Hogwarts adventure came to a close.
For fans of the books and movies, this was a real treat and something my kids will remember for many, many years to come.
The Poem “Our Potter Adventure”
(written by Jenn and Ellie—with no help from parents)
One summer morning we all got a letter
From Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
We couldn’t have thought up anything better
We were all transformed into Gryffindors by the names of Harry, Hermione, Ginny & Ron
The staff decorated our common room;
It felt cozy with all the lights on
Day 1: Potions Class
We enjoyed watching the results
of our potions that had been set into jars of glass
Day 2: Transfiguration Class
We turned objects into living things
With our own type of magic—crayons and paper
For example: a rock to a bird with wings
Day 3: Spells Class
We reviewed the spells in Class 1 Day
Then we made our own spells
Which were special in their own different way
Day 4: Scavenger Hunt
The Scavenger Hunt was tons of fun
We found Voldemort in the end
Though it seemed the hunt had just begun
We had loads of fun and it was an awesome experience for everyone;
Thank you parents and faculty for making us the adventure and
giving us all the cool stuff. This was the best adventure! Thank you!