I’ve been trying to keep my elementary library lessons fun and engaging for my students while giving them choices during distance learning. You’ve read about Yoga Storytime and Star Wars Week already. We saved the best for last with our Harry Potter Week for distance learning.
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As you know I love collaborating with my friends and colleagues who teach music and physical education at my school. Last year we had an amazing reaction to our in-person Harry Potter Week. So we thought a distance learning version would be just the thing to get our school community excited as this crazy school year winds down!
Harry Potter Music Class
I have been so inspired working with these incredible teaching partners over the years. They really poured on the magic with their introductory videos. Our music teacher created a listening movement activity that students could do while holding their “wands.” “Use your imagination – your wand can be anything – a pencil, stick, or toy will do!” She also wrote a song last year that she called the “Triwizard Waltz,” and she used this to help students practice keeping rhythm in 3/4 time. She had wonderful special effects in the video lessons that she posted – it was all so magical and engaging!
Harry Potter Physical Education
Our physical education teacher created an obstacle course in her backyard and had her son film her driving her broom through it. She was decked out in robes and goggles, ready for Quidditch! Students could create their own course in their yards or homes, and most families have a broom on hand (but of course a stick or toy would work as well!). Students also had the chance to try some Harry Potter themed Cosmic Kids Yoga, which is pretty fun too!
Harry Potter for Everyone!
This was perfect timing for our library lessons because there are two exciting things happening in the world of Harry Potter. The eBook and audiobook versions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were still available to everyone on an unlimited basis to checkout from Overdrive and Audible. So our students just had to log in to our library catalog to get access to either version of the book – fun for families to listen to or read together! I created tutorials to remind students how to check out an eBook or audiobook from our library catalog or on Sora (the free app from Overdrive). The other fabulous news was that J.K. Rowling is releasing a chapter a day online of her new book The Ickabog. The book will be published in November 2020, and there is a contest for students to enter their own illustrations for consideration for inclusion in the printed book!
Harry Potter while Distance Learning
Last year I had written a short summary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to read to my younger classes, along with some character and symbol cards to help me tell the story. This time I recorded a video of me reading the story, using the cards to hang in the background as I read. This way everyone had a chance to learn the basics of the story or to be reminded of the basic plot. Of course, I was sure to read the Sorting Hat poem straight from the book!
Other fun library activities included a Sorting Hat Quiz with an invitation to color or design a crest for their house. I like to emphasize the positive qualities for each house mentioned in the Sorting Hat’s poem/song on pages 117-118 of the Sorcerer’s Stone. This activity invites reflection on the part of the student, and possibly their family members, about which of these strengths they possess. It is fun to imagine whether you would be sorted into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin!
To round out the Hogwarts excitement, students could choose to do a Harry Potter scavenger hunt, learn how to draw the Sorting Hat, make a fortune teller, do a word search, or try Harry Potter At Home. I tried to offer a variety of activities, to meet the needs and interests of many different learners and their families.
The At-Home Version of a Popular Week
As with so many activities during distance learning, this fun week is ideally spent with one another together in the same building. But we made the best of the situation and offered our students and their families a united experience in their virtual specials classes. I hope the next time we do this, we get to be physically together!
Your Own Harry Potter Week
To read more about our first Harry Potter Week, check out this blog post: Energize Your School Community with Harry Potter Week. And, if you would like to try Harry Potter Week in your school, or as part of your distance learning activities, I’ve got a terrific resource for you! My Harry Potter Bulletin Board and Activity Kit contains the character cards, storytelling tips, scavenger hunt, house qualities reflection with crest, and a fun bulletin board and street signs for transforming your physical space. Take a look at the preview here!
For more distance learning ideas, join our Facebook group for school librarians. Sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the link in Sunday’s email.
Be the light!