Friday, November 20, 2015

Harry Potter Camp: The Sorting Ceremony

At my YALSA Symposium presentation I told attendees that I would make sure to put up all of my Harry Potter Camp materials on the blog. I'd been meaning to it anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to get my butt in gear. Instead of just dumping everything, I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on the various activities and link to them on the Harry Potter Camp tab that I've added on the main page. On that page you can also find some background info. and logistics about my camp.



The Sorting Ceremony is a simple and essential part of any Harry Potter program. It's the very first thing that happens when new students arrive at Hogwarts and serves to simultaneously divide the larger group into separate teams and unite the individuals in the same house. Many fans will come into your Harry Potter event already identifying with a particular house either because they've taken the test on Pottermore or because they just know, deep inside, which house they would be sorted into if ever the chance to attend Hogwarts arrived. If it doesn't matter which house they are headed to, you can have them "sign up" for houses in advance. If, like me, you want to divide the kids evenly, just let them know ahead of time that the hat may sort them into a house that isn't the one in their heart, and that they shouldn't get upset or concerned. They can continue to be a Hufflepuff in their heart, even if they pull a slip of paper that says "Slytherin"...but for the duration of your program, they'll be a Slytherin. Expect tears. Give comfort and assurance.

Materials:
(When available, I've linked to the items I purchased)
  • Sorting Hat
  • Stool
  • Mini Bluetooth Speaker (connected to your phone)
  • Sorting Song
  • Plastic Cauldron
  • Slips of Paper w/House Names (Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Slytherin and Hufflepuff) OR Temporary Tattoos w/House Crests (enough for 1 for each person, divided as evenly as possible between the four houses)
Set Up:
It's so simple! Grab a stool. Put the small bluetooth speaker stop the stool. Cover the stool with a Sorting Hat. Write the house names on slips of paper and drop them into the cauldron.

Procedure:
Gather the kids around. Play the Sorting Song (I used this one, which is a snippet from one of the audiobooks, narrated by Jim Dale. Each time the hat sings, it's a different song, so feel free to make up your own or record one from a different book!). Then, one at a time, have kids sit on the stool with the hat atop their head. As they sit on the stool, have them close their eyes and reach into the cauldron to take a slip of paper. Read aloud (with enthusiasm!) the house into which they've been sorted.


Once everyone is sorted, the real fun can begin!

The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Harry Potter Camp: The Letter

At my YALSA Symposium presentation I told attendees that I would make sure to put up all of my Harry Potter Camp materials on the blog. I'd been meaning to it anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to get my butt in gear. Instead of just dumping everything, I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on the various activities and link to them on the Harry Potter Camp tab that I've added on the main page. On that page you can also find some background info. and logistics about my camp.



If the kids you know are anything like the kids I know, then one of their life goals is to get their Hogwarts letter. Heck, one of my life goals is to get a Hogwarts letter. This was something that I knew I had to do, even if it didn't really serve much of a practical purpose. And even though I only sent mine via email to the campers (through their parents who had registered them for camp), my kids were absolutely tickled to receive them. I got a bunch of responses back from parents who shared that they printed the letters and gave them to their kids and others who just shared how excited it made their kids and thanked me for including this small but important element.

And it's so easy to do! All you need is the text (taken from the book, with edits and/or additions to suit your needs) and a cool font. If you're fancy, you can even print out the letters on parchment paper and distribute them beforehand. There are a bunch of Harry Potter-style fonts freely available on the web. Just Google "Harry Potter font" and take your pick. Download the font and you're ready to go. Here's the letter I sent.

So quick and easy to do. So appreciated by the kids!


The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Harry Potter Camp: The Schedule

At my YALSA Symposium presentation I told attendees that I would make sure to put up all of my Harry Potter Camp materials on the blog. I'd been meaning to it anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to get my butt in gear. Instead of just dumping everything, I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on the various activities and link to them on the Harry Potter Camp tab that I've added on the main page. On that page you can also find some background info. and logistics about my camp. 

Possibly the most daunting task in creating a 5-day camp was creating a schedule that packed in as much Pottertastic fun as possible and struck the right balance of activities to appeal to the different personalities that would undoubtedly be in attendance. From my daily experiences with middle school students I know that balancing loud and quiet, active and passive and thoughtful and silly is of utmost importance when trying to capture and hold their attention.

I agonized over how much time to spend on every activity and where it should fall in the schedule. Knowing that I would also likely be battling the heat and humidity, I tried to schedule outdoor activities before 11am. Wanting to keep (relatively) true to the order of events in both the books and a given year at Hogwarts, I also tried to sequence activities that would take us all the way from Sorting Ceremony to the Battle of Hogwarts.

The original schedule looked a bit different than what actually wound up happening, but I was prepared for that and had a "roll with the punches" mentality. Knowing that I had a whole week to hit the highlights gave me confidence that even if we ran out of time to do everything one day, we could push things to the next. I also made sure to plan more activities than could possibly ever fit into the schedule. Keeping a few extra activities in my back pocket "just in case" is one of my best teaching strategies. That way, if something flopped or took much less time than anticipated I wouldn't be scrambling to figure out a way to keep everyone occupied. Extra activities and YouTube.

I tried my best to update the schedule below to reflect what actually played out. The kids turned out to be insanely obsessed with Dueling (they are still doing it at recess sometimes, and even kids who didn't come to camp are joining in), and not so into Transfiguration (which you'll note doesn't even appear on the schedule, because as I described the activity and saw their disinterest I quickly pivoted and said "Dueling?" to which they responded with cheers and shouts of joy).



Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
9:00
Sorting Ceremony
"Class" Picture Day
Capture the Egg 
(Tri-Wizard Tourn.)
Chocolate Frogs: Boxes & Cards
Playful Potions
9:30
Quidditch
Quidditch
Pool 
(Tri-Wizard Tourn.)
Quidditch
Quidditch
10:00
Quidditch
Quidditch
Pool 
(Tri-Wizard Tourn.)
Quidditch
Quidditch
10:30
Ollivander's
(wand making)
Scribbulus's
(quill making)
Pool 
(Tri-Wizard Tourn.)
Chocolate Frogs
Peppermint Toads
Cockroach Clusters
Cauldron Cakes
11:00
Acid Pops
Licorice Wands
Bertie Bott's Taste Test
Pool (Tri-Wizard Tournament)
Chocolate Frogs
Peppermint Toads
Cockroach Clusters
Butterbeer
Pumpkin Juice
11:30
Lunch
Lunch
Pool (Tri-Wizard Tournament)
Lunch
Feast
12:00
Dueling
Dueling
Pool (Tri-Wizard Tournament)
Legilimency
Dueling
12:30
Dueling
Dueling
Lunch
HP Alliance Speaker
Horcrux Scavenger Hunt
1:00
Sorcerer's Stone Challenge
Drinkable Potions
Minute-To-Win-Its
(Tri-Wizard Tournament)
HP Alliance Speaker
Horcrux Scavenger Hunt
1:30
Sorcerer's Stone Challenge
Drinkable Potions
Minute-To-Win-Its
(Tri-Wizard Tournament)
HP Alliance Speaker
Battle of Hogwarts
2:00
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
Battle of Hogwarts
2:30
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
OWL Exams (Trivia)
Closing/Diplomas

Not on the schedule but definitely also utilized were YouTube videos and other fun Harry Potter things on the web. Check out my Harry Potter Camp Padlet with links to everything. These little distractions were great to use when we had just a few minutes to fill and not a whole chunk of time.

But what good is this silly schedule if I'm not giving you all the details on what we did? No good at all, I say! Stay tuned. Details are coming...

The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Harry Potter Camp: The Set Up

At my YALSA Symposium presentation I told attendees that I would make sure to put up all of my Harry Potter Camp materials on the blog. I'd been meaning to it anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to get my butt in gear. Instead of just dumping everything, I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on the various activities and link to them on the Harry Potter Camp tab that I've added on the main page. On that page you can also find some background info. and logistics about my camp. 

First impressions are everything. That's why I felt it was important to ensure that the campers attending my Harry Potter Camp knew from the very first moment they arrived at camp that it was going to be awesome.

Creating atmosphere doesn't come cheap. You can very easily spend hundreds of dollars just setting up your space to give in the Hogwarts effect. I was lucky (seriously lucky) to have a decent budget and friends and colleagues that were willing to lend their Potter-phernalia for the week. You may not be so lucky, but thanks to Pinterest, there are tons of tutorials for interested folk who are short on money, but willing to put in some time and creative effort.

Platform 9 3/4

For me, this was a must. You can't get to Hogwarts without Platform 9 3/4 (well, you can, but not if you can't apparate). Since I was creating a camp that I planned to offer annually for as long as there's interest, I splurged on brick wall fabric, rather than printed vinyl. I purchased 3 yards of "Antique Brick Fabric" at Spoonflower. I didn't have a sewing machine, so I improvised and used safety pins to "hem" the fabric and create a pocket for hanging the panel. I hung the panel on a 3' dowel (purchased at AC Moore) that rested on 2 Command Large Plastic Hooks, placed on either side of the entryway. I also purchased a small (13"x19") Platform 9 3/4 Poster Print. Because of the location of my library, there's a constant breeze that runs down the hall and blows into the library. I weighted down the bottom of the panel with a few 12" dowel rods as well.

Assorted Potter-phernalia

Inside the library I set up a small area with a bunch of props that would also be used throughout the week. The table was a gift from one of our English teachers who made it years ago. She was de-cluttering and thought perhaps I could put it to good use. I sure did! I used the small table and as a bit of a staging area for the Sorting Ceremony (more on that in my next post), and used the circulation desk behind it to display the vases where we would keep track of points for the week.


Also on display were a Quaffle, a Snitch, Hedwig in a cage and some Butterbeer (available at Wegman's). These amazing props (and the poster) were loaned to me by generous muggle friends and colleagues. Not pictured, but also added to the display was packaging for a variety of Honeydukes Treats (Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean, a Chocolate Frog, Peppermint Toads and Fizzing Whizzbees) all purchased at Harry Potter World, where a friend happened to be visiting the week prior to my camp!


The Great Hall

Possibly the coolest part of the entire camp was the "enchanted ceiling" of floating candles that hung over the library tables. The candles, combined with the house banners, really made the library feel like Hogwarts.



The pictures just do NOT do it justice. It was breathtaking. Captivating. The kids loved it so much that they begged me to leave it up for the school year (I didn't). Hanging the house banners was a piece of cake. The candles were another story.

It's hard to see how this worked, and I won't have the ability to go back and get better pictures until next summer. I also didn't have to buy the supplies (HUGE shout out to my husband's best friend and his wife who got married earlier in the year and had a library/Harry Potter themed reception, who not only showed me how they did it, but gave me all of their stuff!), so I'm not exactly sure where the supplies came from. But it basically worked like this...Tie fishing line around a flameless battery-operated taper candle and clip the other end of the fishing line onto a magnetic clip. The hard part was standing on top of the tables and throwing the candles up in the air, hoping that the magnets to stick to the metal parts of the drop ceiling. This took at least 2 hours and was quite a literal pain in the neck. Only afterwards did a realize that I could have used some some of grippy pole that would have allowed me to hang them with ease.

And there you have it! That was the set up for Harry Potter Camp. Note that if you're short on budget, doing things like sponge painting a white sheet for Platform 9 3/4, buying knock-off HP merchandise and creating your own house banners can definitely save you a bunch of money. Google around. There are tutorials for creating everything.

The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Get 'Em Reading: Book BINGO!

If you're stopping by to find resources mentioned in the Moving On Up: Introducing Middle Schoolers to the YA Collection, I'll be posting those ongoing for the next while. You can also check out co-presenter Beth Saxton's blog, Beth Reads. She's much more organized than I and already has up a ton of great stuff. She's clearly a seasoned conference presenter. I have much to learn!

As a middle school librarian, I'm always looking for ways to get my students to love reading and to do more of it. I've found that there are really two key components to getting what I want: CHOICE and REWARD/RECOGNITION.  These two things can come together in a number of ways. The one I want to focus on today is Book BINGO.

My 2015-2016 Middle School BINGO Card
Whether you are a librarian in a public library, a school librarian like me, a classroom teacher or some other person who's made it (part of) their mission to get young people reading, Book BINGO is a fun way to encourage students to read books they enjoy, while also sneakily getting them to read broadly and to explore new authors, formats, genres and topics. To "win" the "player" must read five books in a given horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row. (I also let my students read 4 corners and the center, to keep it spicy.) If they want to really take on a challenge, they can read one book for every square on the board (each book can only be counted once, even if it fits multiple squares) - and get to join at a year-end pizza party in return.

I worked with the teachers in our English department to determine what to put in each of the squares. Together, we decided that we wanted to ensure our students read books in a variety of different formats (graphic novel, novel in verse, short story collection), from a variety of genres (historical fiction, science fiction, suspense) and that exposed them to a variety of characters (protagonist of a different gender*, protagonist of a different race**, set in another culture***). Other options for types of books could be: Audiobook, Epistolary Novel, Multiple Narrators/Perspectives, Book Over 200 Pages, Book Under 200 Pages, Author's First Novel, Book By An Author From Your State, Award Winner, Retelling of a Classic, etc. There are so many different ways to put a board together and none of them are wrong! Make your board to fit with your reading goals.

For my students, I set no minimum page requirements or specific reading levels. Instead, I tell them that in order for a book to "count" it must be something that they have not read previously and be generally at or around their reading level. The book need not come from the school library, and is absolutely allowed to be something "adult" (Stephen King, etc.), as long as they have discussed it with their parents and have their okay. Our school year is broken into trimesters, so we've given them a simple guideline of reading 1-2 books per trimester to keep them on track. There's no grading and no written assignment. If a student starts to read a book and discovers it's not a good fit, they can stop reading and pick something else. All that matters is that at come May, they can identify which row they read, list the authors and titles of the books they have read, sign their name (we have an honor code), and have a parent or guardian sign off on the student's work.

Of course, it's all well and good to put together a Book BINGO program, but it won't run itself. Young people often need help figuring out what to read. In my next post I'm going to lay out some of the different resources I make available to students to help connect them with the "right" books to meet their reading needs.

*We specifically chose to word it "different" rather than "opposite" to recognize the fluidity of gender and respect each student's individual identity.
**We specifically chose to word it "different" to recognize that there are so many more racial identities than simply black, white, Native, Latino and Asian and that many individuals identify as mixed race.
***"Another culture" includes characters with a different religious or ethnic background, immigrant subcultures, even the Deaf community. As long as the reader doesn't identify with the particular culture that the book is set in, it counts!

The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trailer Tuesday: It's Your World by Chelsea Clinton

When I was in Portland, OR this past weekend, I made all the standard stops: VooDoo Doughnut, the "Keep Portland Weird" wall, the Portlandia sculpture, and of course, Powell's City of Books. Who should be there on Thursday night to promote her new book, but Chelsea Clinton. I didn't get a chance to go to the signing, but I know that when she visited Politics & Prose in September it was huge. 

Clocking in at over 400 meaty pages of charts, diagrams and text, it's definitely a serious book for the intelligent, inquisitive and industrious young person. The good news is that it doesn't have to be read cover to cover. Educators and librarians can use specific chapters and sections to highlight specific issues and/or just to get kids thinking about what topics interest them and how they might get involved. I see a place for this in the service learning curriculum, if not on that plucky 7th grader's personal bookshelf.







The LibrariYAn is an Amazon Associate. If you click from links on this blog to Amazon and buy something (anything!), I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.