What is International Harry Potter Day?
The Harry Potter books are literary favorites for children and adults all around the world. Its popularity prompted the creation of the International Harry Potter Day. First observed in the United Kingdom in 2012, International Harry Potter Day is an annual observance that takes place on May 2. On this day, Potter fans participate in a variety of themed activities to celebrate their beloved book series! The date for this observance is also significant to Potter fans as it is the day that the notorious Lord Voldemort was finally defeated.
Why Would Students Engage with the Harry Potter Series?
The books present the adventures of young Harry Potter and his friends as they navigate a magical world. Their adventures are both exciting and suspenseful! What’s not to love? Young readers can relate to Harry and his friends as they are on the side of good in their fight against evil! Because of these characteristics, the books effortlessly capture student attention and keep them coming back for more!
Activities to Bring Harry Potter Day into Your Class
Character Dress Up Day
A staple activity for elementary schools across the country is to schedule character dress up days! To tailor this activity for International Harry Potter Day, students may be asked to dress as their favorite character from the books. To make this even more meaningful, students may write about why they chose their particular character by citing evidence from the text.
Although character dress up days are more frequently used for younger grade levels, this activity can be easily adapted for older students by allowing them to participate in a living museum. The teacher should assign students a character to study and embody in order to play the role of that character during the museum. Visitors to the museum will ask the individual characters questions in order to learn more about them. All of these activities can also be used through virtual instruction.
Explore Author’s Purpose
What inspires an author to write a story? Are the events in the story inspired by real life events? Where do their ideas come from? In this activity, students research these questions for the Harry Potter books in order to discover what prompted J. K. Rowling’s creation of the series.
This activity can be completed both in-person or virtually, and it can be used for students of all grade levels. Younger students could research one of the books in the series in small groups. Then, the teacher could lead a discussion about the information they found.
For older students, teachers could place students into small groups and assign each group a different book from the Harry Potter series to research. Then, groups could present their findings to the class though either a verbal or digital presentation.
Experience Food and Fun
Another exciting idea would be for teachers to transform their classrooms into Hogwarts complete with decorations, important items from the books, and themed food and drink! Schools may even approve of the showing of a Harry Potter movie! Either way, students will be immersed into the world of Harry Potter.
Additionally, students love the unusual food and drink items that the characters in the books enjoy, and what better way to celebrate International Harry Potter Day than by bringing some of those items into the classroom?
Butter beer is probably the most notable Harry Potter treat. Teachers can easily make butter beer for their students to try with recipes involving vanilla ice cream, cream soda, and butterscotch sauce. Although this activity is designed more for in-person instruction, teachers could adapt a similar experience for virtual students.
Design a Newspaper Headline or Wanted Poster
Throughout the Harry Potter series, newspaper headlines and wanted posters, albeit still moving, are seen quite frequently. For this activity, students could employ visual art to help them create a headline or poster of their own. Students could recreate some of the ideas from the books, or teachers could challenge students to make up a new scenario to design a headline or poster for. This activity is extremely versatile as it can be completed through in-person or virtual instruction.
Create a House Competition
Another aspect of Harry Potter that students (and adults) of all ages enjoy is the claiming of houses. Be it Gryffindor or Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, Harry Potter fans take pride in the house in which they feel they belong.
Why not bring that into the classroom? Teachers could assign students to houses (just like the famous sorting hat from the books). Houses could earn points for participation, answering questions directly, good behavior, group cooperation, and so on! The sky is truly the limit with what houses can earn points for.
As in the books, houses can lose points for negative events or behaviors, too! Not only is this activity fun, it can be used over and over again (not just on International Harry Potter Day) to encourage positive student behavior, interactions, and performance! Teachers can easily employ this house system in virtual classrooms as well!
Write a Sequel
When the Harry Potter book series ended, many readers were still eager to know more about where the characters ended up. Although J. K. Rowling has given some insight as to where they are and what they are doing, there are many questions left unanswered.
For this activity, students are tasked with writing a sequel or follow up to the book series. Of course, students will not be asked to write a novel-sized response, but they should write a short chapter to inform readers of what their favorite characters are up to.
This activity requires students to place themselves in the shoes of the author and pick up the story where she left off. Students should be encouraged to use their imaginations and carry on the spirit of Harry Potter! This activity is more tailored for older students; however, the writing requirement may be simplified for younger students to participate.