Camp Mama: Harry Potter

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


Harry Potter Week

We have a great love of Harry Potter in our house, so the last week of July is reserved for celebrating the birthday of the Boy Who Lived. This year was even bigger than ever and I am really pleased with the way the week came together. This is a bit of a long post, but if you make it to the end there’s a giveaway!

Monday: School Shopping
It’s the dream, isn’t it? We all dream of getting that letter to Hogwarts. But before taking the train to that magical castle they were all in desperate need to supplies and the only place to do so is Diagon Alley.
First stop: Ollivander’s Wand Shop. We were lucky enough to apprentice with that talented wizard and everyone made their own wands (even myself, my friend, and my husband who happened to come home at the perfect time.) The basic procedure is quite simple: chopsticks, glue gun, and paint. We added some wood beads we had, and in our family no magic wand is compete without glow in the dark paint on the tip. We all had so very much fun.

Every wand is as unique as its wizard.

As the paint dried on our wands we pulled out the air-dry clay and made our owls to bring along to school. It was neat to see how they each followed the same pattern and their owls were each uniquely their own. We were going to also make origami owls but the day was getting away from us and we still had so much we wanted to do!

Six little owls, sitting out to dry.
Six little owls, sitting out to dry.

While I tidied up and we waited for the final crafters to perfect their owls the other kids played a round of Harry Potter Uno.
Once everyone was caught up we boarded Hogwarts Express and got to know wizard candy with a few rounds of Bean Boozled, a game inspired by Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans. (We found that keeping water and fresh plums on hand helped wash out the flavours of dog food and dead fish.) We played late in the day and had a wonderful time.

Tuesday: Getting Settled at School
We started with a sorting ceremony, of course. We had some perfect props loaned to us from a friend which really took things up to a new level. We used this fortune teller for sorting the kids and it made it really fun. We ended up with two Gryffindors, two Hufflepuffs, and two Slytherins! (We Mums had sorted ourselves on Pottermore previously; she’s a Gryffindor and I a Ravenclaw.)

Better be Gryffindor! (Just like Daddy. I don’t think they’ve inherited a single thing from me.)
I just love the house colours!
I just love the house colours!

Once the kids were sorted into their houses we taught them to make friendship bracelets in their house colours. This is a BIG PROJECT and takes much longer than a day, especially for beginners. We gave them time to get started and then moved on to the next project before they melted down from frustration. I’ve said this before, but it’s important to me that my kids are challenged and do things that aren’t immediately easy and aren’t immediately completed. Finishing the bracelets took all week (and more!) and required some adult assistance, but I would definitely do it again.
Afterwards we wrote “home”, colouring some Owl Post postcards to send to friends or family; one must always let your parents know you’ve arrived okay.
We finished up the day by writing messages to each other in invisible ink. Have you tried this before? Lemon juice will dry invisible and pigment when held over a candle. It’s so much fun. For detailed writing I prefer to use a toothpick instead of a paintbrush but warning it’s time consuming.

Wednesday: Classes at Hogwarts
Beginning Trasnfiguration – using our wands and whatever incantations came to mind we put a bar of Ivory soap into the microwave and transformed it into a soap cloud. If you haven’t done this trick it’s really easy and so much fun and makes your whole house smell clean! Bonus! (The soap is not wasted, you can still wash up with the flakes, we put a bowl in the bathroom and the kids chose that over the liquid soap all week.

Behold the magic of the microwave!

Herbology – the only mandrake we had didn’t need to be transplanted, nor was he even screaming, but we did have some healing plants that needed bigger pots so the kids put on their ear protection and transplanted aloe vera.

Always use ear protection!
Always use ear protection!
Dragonblood, Bug Slime, and Dream Fluid, oh my!
Actually I worked with a mandrake, but he was a happy one.
Actually I worked with a mandrake, but he was a happy one.


Potions – I suggested a love potion and that was vociferously shot down so we made an energy mix, the idea being that this will be our midafternoon snack as well. I had SO MANY cool exploding “potions” printed off and ready to go but the troops needed a little less education and structure or I would love them altogether. One potion, easy, and yummy, was perfect. This is a layered drink and the only rule to remember is to pay attention to sugar content: high sugar content sinks, medium sugar content in the middle, low sugar content on the top. I transferred the beverages out of their labeled bottles and renamed them for extra fun. With Dragonblood on the bottom, Bug Slime in the middle, and Dream Fluid atop, we had a fun and tasty treat.

Charms – I blew up some balloons and sent them outside with their wands to practice “Wingardium Leviosa” and other charms. One rule: no unforgivable curses!

Wingardium Leviosa!
Wingardium Leviosa!

Extracurriculars – those who wished to earn some extra credit tried their hands at Origami Howlers, and made Clothespin People.

Thursday: More Classes!
Advanced Transfiguration – I started by giving each child a small piece of modeling clay and instructed them to use their powers to transform it into whatever they chose. Afterwards we played a game of pictionary but sculpting instead of drawing.

Dragon Eggs are almost as simple as hard boiled eggs and pack a big wow factor.

Divination Class – Again a drink! This time out drinks told our fortunes. Following the suggestions here, I had prepped the cups earlier, and did a reasonably good job of surprising the kids with their coloured drinks when I poured in a clear liquid. Everyone took turns guessing what their colour meant for their future.
While we steeped our looseleaf tea for tasseography we ate Dragon Eggs.

Chocolate frogs are surprisingly hard to photograph, but very delicious to eat! Especially if they are dark chocolate with fresh blueberries inside — yum!

Defense Against the Dark Arts – I had made a Dementor the night before, with the idea that I could insert a helium balloon under the cheesecloth and the dementor would float around the house, but with the fabric stiffener and paint it was too heavy so my son suggested hanging it outside so it could sway in the wind. When the time came we took our wands outside and practice conjuring up patronuses, we were unsuccessful but undeterred. Since there was no patronus in the bunch we had to revive ourselves with chocolate, and not just any chocolate, but chocolate frogs! (I made mine with dark chocolate and put blueberries in the middle, they were so delicious!)

It wasn’t exactly what I imagined, but the Dementor floating outside in the breeze was a cool effect.



Friday: PARTY!

Pretzel and cheese broomsticks — these were so simple and a huge hit!

Really, like the whole week hasn’t been one big party? Well this was a real party, with other guests and everything. It was wonderful madness with twenty (20!!!) children and five mothers.
As everyone arrived I placed a card on each of their backs with the name of a character from the books for them to divine by asking each other only yes or no questions.
As soon as everyone was gathered we played Bean Boozled. For most of them it was their first time, but even for those who had played on Monday it was still tremendous fun.
We had some snacks of broomsticks, witches hats (Bugles), and other assorted snacks, and I brought out the divination drinks again, which were a hit.
After snacktime the kids went outside to play a pared–down version of Muggle Quidditch, but only one round because it’s so hot. Tired now, they came in and settled into interests that matched their own interests: Wizard’s Chess, Would You Rather?, and Origami Transfiguration were the biggest draws.

Kid-version Muggle Quidditch is everything you need for busy kids — running around, throwing balls, and searching for something small and hidden.

I was so tired when we got home. I couldn’t believe we had pulled everything together! I needed some quiet time and so did my baby so I sent the big boys on a Treasure Hunt thanks to Treasure.Run to find the movie candy before we settled in to family movie night. (Which was: Harry Potter, of course.) I figured the kids would be amused and mildly challenged but I was really impressed with how engaged they were and how much they enjoyed it. It was ridiculously easy for me to put together — seriously this website makes it foolproof for even the most tired grownup — and kept the kids busy, happy, and not bothering me. Hours later my oldest brought it up again “that was a really cool treasure hunt!” I had planned on using the treasure hunt during the party but we had more than enough to keep us occupied.

treasure run
This is a sample of one of the puzzles the kids had to solve: an accordion puzzle. After they fold accordion-style along the vertical lines the clue is revealed. As you can see these are not dumbed-down babish challenges!

These customizable treasure hunts can easily accommodate multiple groups (blue team, red team, green team…) You pick the locations based on dozens and dozens of options, and each clue comes out unique and creative: riddles, puzzles, etc. Print from your home computer and you’re set! The options are endless: do a scavenger hunt for school supplies, plan a party, or just give a boring Tuesday afternoon an infusion of fun. (I’m going to plan a cleaning scavenger hunt next — no kidding — they have to clean each section before moving on to the next, with the promise of a fun prize at the end.) There are plenty of themes from which to choose, as well, making every single treasure hunt unique and special.

What didn’t we do? Well I’ve got an entire Pinterest board dedicated to that. I may have gone a little totally overboard this week and I always felt half a step behind, but I just couldn’t resist going all out with such a fun theme. I’m taking it easy for the rest of the summer, I promise. I have not regrets; this is something we will all remember for a long time.


Previous Camp Mama themes: Greek WeekFranceJunior Chef,  EconomicsJapan, Robotics, and Art.


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This has in no way affected my opinion.
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