“The Boy Who Lived” is the name of the first chapter of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (and, spoiler alert, could also be the name of the last chapter of the last book), and thus starts a world of adventure. The seven books spawned a series of eight movies (the last book is split into two films) and a movement of enjoyable reading for kids who grew up with each new tome, as they made friends with the characters and learned age-appropriate life lessons.
Around age 7-10 is the perfect time to start reading the Harry Potter series (make sure your kids read the book before you all see the movie). After your kids have finished the first installment, here are a few ideas to discuss:
- What makes a family. Harry loses his parents in the first chapter of the first book. He is sent to live with his aunt and uncle, who don’t treat him well. Discuss with your kids why it’s important to be kind to family members, even the ones we don’t see often and the ones we disagree with. Don’t hesitate to explain why you’ve included non-relatives as part of your family, in the way that Harry eventually becomes a family with Ron and Hermione.
- Be humble. Harry is very good at Quidditch and has more money than Ron. But he doesn’t flaunt his skill or his wealth, like Draco Malfoy does. Talk to kids about why it’s important to be humble and not taunt others with things that they have or are better at.
- Use the power you have wisely. Professor Dumbledore and Voldemort are opposites in how they want to use the power that they have. Voldemort wants to rule all of the Wizarding World, while Dumbledore uses his power to teach lessons. Ask your kids about what “powers” do they think they have (are they good at music, art, math or sports, or are they kind to siblings or neighbors) and what ideas do they have to use those for good.
Now that you’ve seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, try these activities that Harry, Ron and Hermione would love.
- Discover your Hogwarts house. Take the Hogwarts Sorting Experience created by J.K. Rowling to find out if you’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin or Ravenclaw. You can also try out a more delicious method … sorting hat cupcakes!
- Try out potions class. The Laboratory Collective in Chicago created this awesome experiment to teach kids about how potions class works in the Muggle world.
- Play a game of Quidditch. Quidditch is on the rise at high schools and colleges across the world. So much that there’s an official rule book. Follow some of these or make up your own that will include all of your family (pets as keepers?) for a game of quidditch. Brooms optional.
- Make your own wand. Make a wand that actually lights up! (Be aware, this requires small cell (watch-sized) batteries which are dangerous if swallowed, so only make wands in houses with older kids.)
- Troll Bogeys. Harry’s wand gets stuck in a troll’s nose after it gets loose at Hogwarts. Make magnetic slime with this experiment from STEAM Powered Family.
- Turn “dreams” into “dos.” After looking into the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Let your kids pick one dream they can try out at home (baking, redecorating, art, science, etc.) and give it a try.
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