Monday, March 30, 2015

A Bit Of Magic: A Harry Potter Homeschooling Unit

We finally were able to get started on our last Harry Potter book today and after scouring the web last week we decided to turn it into a whole fun unit!

We have science experiments, writing assignments, and lots of yummy recipes to try out.  I also printed out quite a few worksheets, word searches, and trivia sheets off of the Scholastic Harry Potter page since I know the boys do enjoy worksheets too.

At first I toyed with setting each boys up with an entire curriculum and base their days on Harry Potter's classes but in reality I don't want all three of them taking a month off from math and Evan can not afford to stop reading and working with sight words so I finally decided to treat our Harry Potter unit much like I treated our World War II study; as a little bit of extra fun, magic, and excitement sprinkled into our normal school days.

Today we made golden snitch candies and started learning some Astronomy (like Harry)

We went grocery shopping and the had all worked on their math work either in the car or, in Evan's case, before we even left the house.  Evan completed two more pages on fractions in his workbook and we realized he's more than halfway through this second grade math book!

Ian started on book two in his measurement series and completed two pages on estimating length using feet, inches, & yards.

Alec added fractions and reduced them (even when they turned into mixed numbers) and then worked on a page with addition fact families.  We had never covered fact families before but he caught on to the concept on his own.    

Harry Potter Unit:
By the time I was done putting groceries away the older two boys were finishing up with, what I hoped, was a fun trivia sheet about Harry Potter.  Evan wasn't able to complete the page on his own since he couldn't read all the quotes himself.  The worksheet, which I found on Scholastic's Harry Potter page , dealt with the book the Chamber of Secrets.  There were 10 quotes from the book on the page and the boys had to remember/ determine who was speaking.  Once I started reading them out loud, Evan had no trouble with identifying the speaker and the boys had fun remembering the book and the movie.

We made golden snitch snacks today too.  had some white chocolate Lindt truffles and they just happened to be wrapped in gold paper.  Looking at all the different snitch crafts I was inspired; the boys loves truffles, they're gold balls, so all we had to do was glue some gold/ yellow wings on them and we had our very own golden snitches for snack today!

To make Snitch Snacks You will Need:

  1. Lindt White Chocolate Truffles
  2. low temp glue gun and glue sticks
  3. yellow or gold feathers
I had each boy pick out two feathers they liked and gave them the option of trimming the feathers with scissors  if they so desired.  I then walked them each through the craft individually, teaching them how to safely use the glue gun without getting burned.  They loved their snitches and Alec kept jumping off the furniture pretending that he was catching it.

And boy oh boy, they sure were yummy!

Golden snitch snacks 
Reading and Vocabulary:
We read chapter one at lunch and covered a bit of vocabulary.  It's the third time today I was aware that I was teaching vocabulary.  Usually the boys are content to figure out the meaning of the words in the context of the story.  Often one might ask what a word means but the others are quick to answer.  Today I had been asked by a few different boys to explain various words we've found in a variety of stories; of course I obliged!

 As our final Harry Potter type project we took a look at a book about constellations called Find the Constellations.  I told them we'd be doing a bit of astronomy this week since Harry learns about astronomy too and we were starting with the stars today.

My kids aren't that interested in space, the stars, and the planets so I'm always looking for ways to sneak to a bit of that into our studies.  They all smiled when I mentioned that Harry learns astronomy and just like that they were all interested in what we were doing.

We didn't read the whole book cover to cover but we went through a few of the constellations and talked about the grades of the stars, the names of the "biggies" in our solar system, and the fact that the stars are always moving around in our sky so they aren't always found in the same place throughout the year.  We learned that light-year is a measure of distance and talked about the speed of light, the speed of sound, and the distance of the stars to us & our planet.

 We talked a lot about perspective and why our sun seems so much bigger than all the other stars in our solar system. We compared our sun and the stars to a book we put on the table (near us) and the size that book would be if we put it down the road, past our neighbors house and tried to see it from our kitchen table.

We took a look at the different sky views shown in the back of the book and I asked the boys if they noticed that while the stars positions changed in the sky throughout the season did they also notice that they don't change much in position to one another?  I told them if they studied how all the constellations were laid out based on the north star and the big dipper they only ever had to find the big dipper and then they could follow their way out and find all the other constellations.  They thought that was pretty neat.

They reminded me of the night we went camping in our backyard and spent time really looking at the stars and constellations.  We were all stunned to realize that it was three years ago!

Independent Reading:
The boys also all did some reading on their own today.  Ian read two more truck books that he had checked out from our library while Alec chose to re-read some of his favorite Pokemon guidebooks.  He often pours over the names, abilities and moves of all the Pokemon characters often.

Evan and I settled down together and read Mittens Goes To School.  We also worked on three more pages in his Reading Lessons book.  We reviewed all the letters and sounds he's learned so far and I have been noticing him applying more sounds to his reading so hopefully it's helping.

Ian and I finished up his school day reading the first chapter of the Hunger Games together.  We were lucky enough to have a lot of free movie channels over the weekend and we recorded the second Hunger Games movie too.  He already wants to re-watch the first one now that he has learned some additional details from the book.

Alec worked on gluing all of the papers we typed up for his geography fair report onto his display board.  I helped him cut out some of the blurbs we wrote up about each god and then gave him the suggestion of mounting them on colored papers.  Together we laid out the 15 mini papers around the board and decided on a layout.  I then left him to it and went to wash the dishes.

I am trying really hard to back off from these reports and allow the kids to do more of the work.  

He happily took over and did a great job.  He decided to pick the color for the background based on each gods domain.  Zeus, with his lightening bolt was yellow, Dionysus (the wine god) was purple, etc.  It was very creative.

We'll cut out the title another day this week and then he, too, will be all set for the fair.
Free Play:
The boys spent some time playing outside today (though it was rainy and snowy most of the day), and they all spent quite a bit of time playing in Evan's room with all of his Ninja Turtle Lego sets.   They played for an hour altogether and then I heard Ian shuffling through the Lego bins in his own room.  I could hear the younger two continuing to play together in Evan's room.  

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