Sprinkling Magic into Your Homeschool
At both Michelle’s and Karen’s houses we’re big Harry Potter fans. We have Harry Potter ring tones, read Harry Potter books, watch Harry Potter movies, play Harry Potter video games, dress up as Harry Potter for Halloween, and add some Harry Potter magic into our homeschools. We even live on acreage and have “Dark Forests” behind our houses. Read on if you’d like to make your own Harry Potter homeschool.
Design Your School
A School Name
Pick a name for your school. Michelle’s family picked Copher School of Mishaps and Mayhem, a title both accurate and Hogwartish.
Sorting Into Houses
Pick symbols and names for your houses. If you have a small family you may have only one house, but it’s still fun to know you belong to a house. You might want to design a crest that represents your family, house, or homeschool.
Here are some ideas:
House Name House Symbol House Colors
Arcturus Hippogryph light blue & silver
Polaris Dragon dark blue & gold
Vega Centaur red & gold
Sirius 3-Headed Dog orange & black
Orion Unicorn white & silver
Our simple banners represent each of the houses. The banners hang in the school room all year long and on feast days they are moved to the dining “hall” where they adorn the walls. The house symbols were drawn on in pencil first, then traced over in permanent marker. Then the banners were trimmed with a metallic ribbon.
House Points & the House Cup
At Hogwarts, kids earn house points for doing well at school and in life. They lose points for bad behavior. At the end of the term, the house cup is awarded to the house with the most points. If you have two or more houses you can use the same system. Keep track of house points with jars and beans or marbles. If you have only one house, keep track and when the jar gets to a certain pre-determined level, have a prize prepared.
We have house points challenges as well, which are like little quiz games where the kids answer review questions from what we’ve been studying. We usually have a house points challenge on Fridays to sum up what we’ve learned during the past week or two. The more difficult the question, the more points they earn. They encompass all subjects and even cover things that weren’t officially “school” topics. I jot down questions in our Big Book of Knowledge that sits on my desk. I keep all the questions we’ve ever used and they stay in the game, so eventually, there are repeats. Everyone gets caught up in the fun, and we all get a great review time.
Your house cup can be part of a trophy or just a vase or goblet spray painted gold. We award our house cup at the end of each term (usually twice a year). The kid who wins it gets to keep it on his or desk as a pencil jar for the jar.
Preparing For a Magical Year
It’s not every kid who gets picked to attend your school of magic. It’s a big deal. There’s an official letter delivered by magical means. Hedwig dropped our letters off. Each letter included a list of requirements including books and supplies, purchased in Diagon Alley, of course; school uniforms purchased at Madam Malkins; and if you’re lucky, a racing broomstick. Make sure to have your list in hand before you go school shopping.
Oh, and you’ll also need a wand. If you can’t afford one of Ollivander’s, you can always make your own with a wooden dowel. Just cut the dowel to your desired length, put hot glue designs along the length of the dowel, then give it several coats of paint.
Homeschool of Magic Subjects
There’s an official date by which students must arrive at school. And there’s a list of classes they will be enrolled in too. Here are the subjects that have been taught in our Homeschool of Magic over the years, with their traditional subject translations, of course:
- Charms (English)
- Arithmancy (Math)
- History of Magic (History)
- Muggle Studies (Geography)
- Herbology (Biology-plants)
- Care of Magical Creatures (Biology-animals)
- Potions (Chemistry)
- Transfiguration (Physics)
- Astronomy (Astronomy)
- Ancient Runes (Latin and other Foreign Languages)
- Defense Against the Dark Arts (Character Training/Religious Instruction)
- Magical Arts (Art)
- Moving Portrait Gallery (Art History)
Start of Term (and End of Term) Feasts
The night before the first day of school we have a feast of Hogwarts-themed foods. We’ve done many, many Harry Potter feasts over the years. The tablescapes and menus change slightly, but I recycle the decor, games, and theme foods too. You can really plan any menu and then give the foods fun names – McGonagall’s Mummy Dogs (pigs in a blanket), Mystery Brew (any soup), Hagrid’s Hamburgers (just burgers, no strange meat required!), or Madame Pomfrey’s Peaches (canned peaches) – you get the idea. Serve anything, but make the names special. A little effort goes a long way. Nothing complicated, just a little creativity.
Some years we create menus and other years I serve it buffet-style with little signs by each dish. One year we even did a mystery feast with everyone ordering foods like “Witch’s Brew,” “Devil’s Snare,” and “Bat Wings.” When their plates arrived they were served according to their order – in this case, homemade root beer, a pile of spaghetti, and barbecue chicken wings. We offered about twelve menu items and they had to guess at what they would be ordering.
We also have either Honeyduke’s treat bags or a Honeyduke’s table with desserts with theme names too.
During the feast the kids get their school books with their list of classes they’ll be taking for the year. They also get sorted into their houses. We have a Halloween witch hat we place on their heads. We only did the sorting once, the first time we had a Start of Term feast, but you can also do it every year, changing up the houses.
Also, this is a great chance for the headmaster or mistress to give Start of Term Notices – little announcements for the school year.
We start and end each school year with a themed feast to keep the magic alive and create a spirit of celebration in our homeschool. Check out our Harry and Hogwarts Pinterest Board to see where we get all the printables and get more inspiration for menu items, decor, games, and more.
We don’t give out regular grades, we give out O.W.L.s. (Actually, if it weren’t for Harry we probably wouldn’t give out any grades at all, but it’s just too much fun. ) At the end of term feast, each student receives a ribbon tied scroll containing their “marks” for that term. At the bottom are some words of encouragement for each child as well.
Here’s the grading scheme:
O – Outstanding
E – Exceeds Expectations
A – Acceptable
P – Poor
D – Dreadful
T – Troll
Magic in Your Homeschool
You may not love Harry Potter as much as we do. That’s okay (well, it’s kind of okay, but we’re big enough fans that you probably shouldn’t tell us!). You can still create magic in your homeschool. Choose a theme – Disney, Star Wars, Narnia, Around the World, Nature, Under the Sea, Percy Jackson, Sports – whatever it is you’re into. Create a school name, a few decorations, and a points system. Sprinkle in a few theme items with your school supplies. Have a back to school theme dinner. Voila! You can create lasting memories of a happy homeschool. Harry Potter is not really a part of our daily school work. I don’t stress over incorporating our theme into every unit and everything we do. A few decorations and a fun event are all you need to sprinkle some magic and memories into your homeschool.