Harry Potter Party Ideas

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I’m working on a Harry Potter character party template for our library (we currently have character parties for Geronimo Stilton, Fancy Nancy and Percy Jackson, among others). While researching Harry Potter party ideas, I came to a not entirely earth-shattering realization:

parents can be insane

Holy smokes, the lengths some parents go to when planning birthday parties for their children is absolutely staggering. Don’t even get me started…

Anyway, the point of this post is to share some of the Harry Potter program ideas I found while trolling Pinterest. These activities are inexpensive, don’t require any specialized equipment or extensive crafting abilities, and are quick and easy to set up and run. Perfect for library kids’ programs, and suitable for even the least knowledgeable Harry Potter readers (like myself).

Transfiguration Practice

Kids pull animal names from a hat and have to act them out, while their teammates have to guess which animal they’ve been transfigured into. It’s animal charades with a fancy name.

Harry Potter Corner Book Mark

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Cute, easy striped paper book marks for marking your next Harry Potter read.

Harry Potter – Would You Rather? Game

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This easy printable game gets kids guessing and choosing between two Harry Potter-themed options – definitely better suited to more knowledgeable fans, though. I needed a translator to get me through some of the questions…

Origami Sorting Hat

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This printable makes a Harry Potter-themed cootie-catcher / fortune teller that can sort kids into their houses. Easy to make and fun to use on each other.

Pin the Scar on Harry Potter

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It’s pin the tail on the donkey for a new generation.

Toilet Paper Roll Owl

Pinecone Owl

Sock Owl

Paper Plate Owl

Make your own Hedwig owl with one of these cute owl crafts.

Running a Harry Potter party at your library can be easy and affordable with these quick, simple, fun activities! Good luck!

Spring Booktalking : Part I

I recently visited three awesome classes at a local all-boys private school for some stories and some book talking. The kids were fantastic and super excited to talk about books!

Here are the books I shared with the Grade Six kids:

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard / Rick Riordin

Magnus Chase has been on the run ever since his mother was killed, living on the streets and trying to avoid any adults.

When his mysterious uncle appears with strange stories of gods, ancient warriors and powerful monsters, Magnus discovers that he’s not just a regular teenager, he’s actually the relative of a real Norse God. Magnus will have to learn how to use his powers, and fast, before a terrible villain destroys the entire world. And you thought your family was a pain….

The Last Kids on Earth / Max Brallier

It’s been forty-two days since the monster apocalypse hit town and pretty much everyone ran away or got zombiefied. Average 13-year-old Jack is holed up in his tree house fortress, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention a nearly endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores.

But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of nasty Dozers and Winged Wretches and disgusting Zombies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent gargantuan menace he’s dubbed Blarg. Jack needs to gather a team of whatever kids he can find, and whatever monsters will show him loyalty. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, become the ultimate post-apocalyptic action hero, and finally be an average kid no longer! That is, if he doesn’t get squashed, mauled, munched, or zombified first….

The Mark of the Thief / Jennifer A. Nielsen

When Nic, a young slave, is forced to venture deep into a sealed cavern in search of Julius Caesar’s fabled lost treasure, he stumbles across something far more incredible than gold or jewels – an ancient bulla, a powerful amulet filled with an unimaginable power once wielded only by the gods. Armed with this deadly magic, Nic is determined to free himself and his younger sister from slavery. Instead he finds himself drawn into a complicated and ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor, which could bring Rome to its very knees. Desperate traitors and cunning spies will stop at nothing to use Nic’s new power for their own destructive aims, and only by harnessing the ancient bulla can Nic hope to save Rome and all who live within it from total annihilation.

Masterminds / Gordon Korman

Everything is perfect in the small town of Serenity. Everyone lives in perfect houses, with perfect laws, perfect pools, perfect basketball hoops set in perfect straight lines. Nobody steals, nobody complains, nobody lies. Crime free, garbage free, pollution free, Serenity is the safest and nicest place to live in the entire country.

But something dark lurks beneath the surface of this ideal community. Something dangerous. Something deadly. And when Eli stumbles upon a terrible secret at the very edge of Serenity’s borders, everything he has known, trusted and loved threatens to come crashing down around him. With no one to trust, a small group of kids must uncover the truth about Serenity, if they’re going to make it out alive.

The Bamboo Sword / Margi Preus

13-year-old Yoshi dreams of joining the fight to expel the Outsiders who have entered the forbidden waters of Japan, but as a lowly servant he is forbidden to become a samurai or even carry a sword. When the arrival of the foreigners turns Yoshi’s world upside down, he is forced to flee for his very life. Yoshi’s world becomes one of adventure, assassins, secrets and spies, as he joins forces first with a mysterious samurai, and later with a strange American boy. Only by joining forces can they untangle a dangerous web that threatens to bring down Japan itself.

School for Sidekicks / Kelly McCullough

13-year-old Evan Quick is obsessed with superheroes. Every morning when he wakes up he checks to see if he’s developed superpowers overnight, and every morning it’s the same – no flying, no super-strength, no heat vision, no telepathy, no magic, NOTHING.

But when Evan manages to survive a supervillain’s deadly death ray attack, he winds up at the Academy for Metahuman Operatives – a top-secret school for kids with exceptional powers. It’s not quite all its cracked up to be, though – instead of Superhero High, the Academy is more like a school for sidekicks! Instead of learning how to be Batman, Evan is stuck learning how to be Robin….lame.

Evan’s got one chance to become an actual superhero, but to do it he’ll have to convince a washed-up old superhero to come out of retirement and start fighting evil again. And getting that to happen might just be the ultimate test of Evan’s super powers….

The Nest / Kenneth Oppel

The mysterious angel-like beings who visit Steve in his dreams promise they can cure Steve’s baby brother Theo of his rare and terrible condition. All Steve wants is for everything to be normal – for his brother to grow up healthy, for his mother to stop crying, for his father to pay attention to him again. The creatures seem to be the answer to all of Steve’s hopes and prayers. But everything comes with a cost. How much is Steve willing to pay to save his brother’s life? And if the cost is too high, too terrible, can Steve undo what he has set in motion?

Fuzzy Mud / Louis Sachar

There’s something strange about the mud in the woods behind Woodridge Academy. Something growing. Something fuzzy. Something so small you can’t even see it without a microscope. But so powerful it can kill. Don’t get it on your skin. Don’t get it in your eyes. Whatever you do, don’t touch it. Because the mud isn’t just fuzzy. It’s deadly.

You know you’ve done your job when kids come into the program rolling their eyes and smirking, and leave ready to enter into fisticuffs to be the first to borrow the books you’ve book talked.

Builderfest!

I’m going back into the vaults a bit for this post – last month I led a kids after school program, called Builder Fest. Kids used their imaginations to turn simple household objects into wonderful feats of architecture.

PicMonkey Collage

What always inspires me is how kids can find excitement in even the simplest activities, especially if they’re presented in an engaging manner – all too often we hear that “kids today” are only interested in high-tech gadgets and expensive, fancy toys. The kids in this program were so excited to build with the plastic cups that we had to practically kick them out when the program ended! The imagination is a powerful force that needs only a bit of encouragement to turn plastic cups into towering castles, and marshmallows into geometric wonders.

Game On!

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Last night we hosted a board game afternoon for teens in honour of International Games Day @ Your Library.

From 4:00 – 6:00pm we took over the teen lounge and filled it with an array of board games and snacks (always the snacks). We tried to offer a variety of games that would appeal to all ages and levels of gamers, so we pulled out a little bit of everything, from Sorry! to Jenga to Apples to Apples to Monopoly.

We weren’t really sure what to expect – we’d had a very good turnout at last week’s writing event, but we’d promoted the heck out of that one, and the board game event hadn’t received as much buzz. The turnout definitely wasn’t as high as it had been for the writing event, but it wasn’t too shabby either – at one point we had 7 teens, though people came and went at different times.

The real star of the night wasn’t any of the fancy new games we found in the teen storage closet, but rather an old party favourite – Pictionary! We played an adapted version that got everyone playing and guessing, which increased the odds of someone correctly guessing the word. It was hilarious! No one was too competitive, and we used a flipchart as a canvas so the teens could make massive drawings.

Sometimes it’s the simplest games that are the most fun! Pictionary is great because it gets everyone involved (we just stole extra pieces from other games so we could add more players, and at one point we had 6 people playing), and the rules aren’t too complicated (we had a few teens who had never played before, but with our adapted rules they were able to jump in without hesitation).

In retrospect, it would have been nice to have had a bit more promotion for the event, so we could have spread the word to other teens (most of the participants were TLC members), but all in all it was a low-maintenance, low-key event that was lots of fun.

Write On!

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us, and in honour of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I’d share a couple of silly writing exercises that I came up with for our teen writing event next week. They probably won’t get anyone ready for the Giller Prize, but they will hopefully elicit a few laughs and break the ice a little at our event!

Step 1: Make the cut

  • Cut out pictures of people from discarded magazines – fashion spreads and advertisements are great sources of offbeat images. Cut out enough pictures so that everyone attending your event will have at least one picture (plus a few extras in case of drop-ins). Put all your cut out pictures in an envelope.
  • Try not to cut out images of famous or recognizable people.

Step 2: Pick your picture

  • Each participant draws a random picture from the envelope. If you cut out some pretty weird pictures like I did (thank you high concept fashion spreads!), there should be a few confused looks at this point.

Step 3: Who are you?

  • Working from the picture they selected, participants create a character. Encourage them to name and describe their character, both externally and internally, and create a back story for him or her.  The time spent on this part of the exercise will depend on the length of your event, the size of your group, and the age/writing level of your participants.

Step 4: What the heck is going on??

  • Now that they have created a character, participants build a scene based on what they think is going on in the image. Again, the length and level of detail of this exercise will depend on your program and your audience.

Step 5: Pair, Share and Compare

  • If you would like participants to share their writing after the exercise, be sure to let the group know before you start the exercise – you don’t want your event to feel like a pop quiz! Depending on the size of your group, you might ask for volunteers, or break participants into pairs or smaller groups, to support anyone who might be intimidated speaking in front of a large group.

And there you have it! Nothing ground-breaking, just a fun way to use up some discarded magazines and have some fun while honing our craft.