Everybody knows Harry Potter. The Harry Potter series has made J. K. Rowling the most successful literary author of all time. The books are enjoyed and read by both children and adults and the films too have been hugely popular.
Most children have either read the books, seen the films, or are very familiar with the characters and ideas of the books which makes it a great tool to use to get children engaged in the classroom.
I have used this book as a topic focus across a half term in my year 5&6 class through many different subjects. The books are extremely funny which the children love, especially when they hear the teacher reading it out loud. Exaggerating this humour when reading and giving the children the opportunity to laugh at my delivery of the text helped me to build a good relationship with my class. Reading parts like this are particularly amusing:
“Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large, pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes and thick, blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The Vanishing Glass)
These are a few ways in which the class had used Harry Potter through different subjects:
Reading the book for 10 minutes at the end of the day was great for engaging the children in the writing and it was a fantastic opportunity to ask questions about grammar; what kind of a sentence is this? Can you think of a different word for…? What is … an example of?
The children wrote poems, inspired by things they had discovered in ‘Harry Potter’ and based on Ian McMillan’s ‘Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket’. Generating ideas and interesting word pairings before structuring their poems.
The children spent a long time thinking of ideas for, planning, and writing their own fantasy stories. They thought about what makes it a fantasy and focused particularly on description.
Children took inspiration from the magical objects and contraptions in ‘Harry Potter’ to think of and design their own, before writing an explanation text for it.
Children spent time drawing portraits of the main characters using different techniques and materials, they also looked at drawing Hogwarts focusing on shapes and lines.
Children could make potions following recipes using different capacities; drawing in their measuring jug image how much of each ingredient they need and adding the measurements up as they go.
Children worked on a problem solving activity looking at making their own Quidditch team. Each player was given a rating out of 10 for skill, power, and team work, as well as a price. Children had to fill the right number of different positions with a fixed price.
This idea could work for all the operations as well as using the ranking for averages etc.
Using the characters and magical objects in maths word problems also engaged children well.
Children were looking at chemical reactions which made a great link to potions.
Daily Physical Activity (DPA)-
As a fun afternoon activity the children were allowed to play and keep score of their own Quidditch match using hockey sticks as pretend broom sticks, throwing a ball between them to score in hoops.
Children could also use this story for discussion about relationships/ friendships and emotions.
Many children could easily identify with Harry and his feeling of isolation and not fitting in. The book also features many characters that will remind children of people they have encountered: Draco (bully), Dudley (mean), Ron and Hermione (best friends), as well as father figures, teachers etc.