Sunday, February 17, 2013

Program: Holidays at Hogwarts

Our January big ticket event was an afternoon of Harry Potter themed activities. It was one of our most successful programs since I've been working at the library and we got some great feedback on it. It was a big undertaking but it was also a lot of fun. Here's what we did!

We had activities going on in 4 different parts of the library throughout the three hours that we ran the program. In our Children's Program Room, we had three scheduled events: the Sorting Hat ceremony, Astronomy for Wizards class, and Potions/Herbology class. For the Sorting Hat, attendees could come anytime in the first 45 minutes of the program and be sorted by our own Sorting Hat. We built the hat ourselves in the weeks leading up to the program and (sorry to ruin the magic) outfitted it with a walkie-talkie so that it would actually speak. I, as the voice of the sorting hat, hid in our puppet closet and doled out House assignments to all interested attendees. I think I sorted about 50 people, including some of our teen volunteers and a few parents. I tried to address all the kids by name - my coworker asked each child their name before they put the hat on - but some of them were too difficult for me to hear. I don't think anyone was fooled by the talking hat, but everyone thought it was very cool and fun. They loved finding out what House they'd be sorted into - many had expressed their desired assignment as they approached the hat. I took their wishes into account, but not everyone got exactly what they wanted - we would have had an overwhelming number of Gryffindors if I did that. The Sorting Hat retired after 45 minutes and I moved on to helping with other parts of the program.

Next in the Program Room was Astronomy for Wizards, led by my coworker. Her husband is a physicist and used to be in charge of a planetarium, presenting a similar lesson a number of times before to various school groups. The lesson was very fun and informative - kids learned about stars and constellations that shared their names with characters or beings from the series. Attendees were split into four groups and were asked to guess the answers throughout the lesson, earning points for their group. The group with the most points at the end of class won a prize - Mallowsweet Seeds from Professor Longbottom. About 75 people attended Astronomy class.

Last up in the Program Room was a combined Potions and Herbology lesson. The kids used their potion-making skills to create some Bubotuber pus. I wasn't present for this lesson so I can't say exactly how it went, but I know we have over 90 attendees, leading to a little bit of chaos at the start (my coworker had not planned for quite so many kids). So, there was some waiting and downtime during the lesson but everything worked out in the end. The kids were very enthusiastic about this class.

In the Children's Department, we had a Care of Magical Creatures Scavenger Hunt for the entire three hours (though definitely not as many people were participating by hour three. It ran like our typical scavenger hunts do: we posted pictures throughout the department and gave kids a key to what they were looking for. Our twist this time was that we used pictures of various magical creatures from the series and we gave the kids a Marauder's Map with their names as a key. Once they completed the hunt, they could choose either a bookmark or a handmade button as a prize. The buttons were very popular - we had 12 designs to choose from I think and only a handful left at the end of the day.

In the Auditorium, we showed a movie. Honestly, we didn't expect too many people to attend - we started it with an hour left in the program, and attending meant skipping Potions class, but about 20 people sat down to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

In our Meeting Room, we had continuous activities for the entire length of the program. Kids were free to pick and choose which activities they wanted to participate in and come and go as they pleased. We offered a wand-making station (by far the most popular), rune decorating, fold your own patronus, O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, and a photo op. This room was probably the most crowded during the first part of the afternoon - not everyone wanted to be sorted and even those that did headed here afterwards.

We also held prize drawings on every hour - raffle winners received a basket full of Harry Potter goodies.

Overall, this was an incredibly fun and successful event, one that we will definitely plan on having again!

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