Whether it’s for a kid’s party, a school incursion or a classroom activity, running your own Harry Potter Potions Class is a whole lotta fun…and a magical way to introduce science concepts, too.
Turning Science Experiments Into a ‘Harry Potter Potions Class’
You can turn any science activity into a magical classroom activity, simply by re-naming the ingredients with made-up Wizarding lingo and telling some fun stories around them. Here’s the list of my favourite experiments:
- Professor Sillius’ Severely Sloppy Slime – slime making
- Fortune Telling Potions – an experiment using ice coloured with food dye to reveal different coloured ‘fortunes’
- Explosive Gas with Inflative Properties – blowing up a balloon using a bicarb soda and vinegar reaction
- Dragon’s Milk Fireworks – food dye floating in milk, which moves when reacting to dishwashing liquid
- Witches’ Snow – fake snow polymer
- Dragon’s Egg Drop – an experiment with gravity using an egg, cardboard roll and cup
- Creative Potions Practice – making up your own potion with random ingredients.
An example of how you can turn an ordinary science experiment into a ‘Harry Potter Potions Class’ inspired activity is as follows:
Professor Sillius’ Severely Sloppy Slime
To start, you will need two cauldrons. In one, you mix 3/4 cup of cooling potion, along with one cup of Boblear Pus (see story above). Once mixed, you can add a few drops of Essence of Rainbow for colour. Now, in your second cauldron, pour 1/2 cup of hot brew, and stir in 1 teaspoon of crushed Longiweed (I have a back-story about this in my Wizarding Enchantments Class Kit too). Be sure that the Longiweed powder has completely dissolved before you continue. Now, here is the magical part – pour the crushed Longiweed mixture into the Boblear Pus mixture, and as you do so, chant the spell ‘Combinio!’ Stir continuously, and you will notice the slime magically start to form.
You’ll probably get through around 4 experiments in an hour, which is perfectly suited to a standard 2-hour party (you’ll want about an hour for arrival, present giving, eating and free play).
In my Wizarding Enchantments Class Kit, I’ve provided instructions for all the experiments listed above, along with ingredient labels and supply lists, so you’ll have everything you need to get started. There’s also a printable Enchantments Class Handbook for the students to keep. You can download it instantly as a pdf. It’ll make running your class magically easy!
Using Storytelling To Make It Magical
I love telling tall tales, and entering the wizarding world lets me do that. It allows me to choose a character (I like to be Professor Sillius, head of the Wizarding Outreach Program), and make up back-stories for the ingredients. Story telling this is the key to making your enchantments class truly magical fun. The kids love it!
Now, if you’re an avid fan of the Harry Potter world or other magical realms, you’re going to have a head start in telling tales. But don’t let that limit you. Let your imagination run wild, and create stories about how your magical ingredients are sourced, where you buy you potions equipment, and how you came to be an enchantments master. Here’s an example story I like to tell about ‘Boblear Pus’, more commonly knownas PVA or Elmer’s Glue:
The Boblear plant is one of the ugliest you’ll ever see. Its leaves are a sickly grey-green. The plant’s life-span is similar to that of a human, and when it is around 13 years old, it develops large pustules on its leaves, which are filled with foul-smelling pus. This pus is a key ingredient for slime-making and can be collected by squeezing the pustules each morning. But beware! If you get boblear pus on your face, you will develop pimples there that last for the remainder of your life.
I have included lots more back-stories for ingredients in my Wizarding Enchantments Class Kit.
Setting Up Your Classroom
The second thing you can do to make your class magical is to create a fabulous magical ingredient display. Decant your ingredients into glass containers and test tubes, or simply cover up existing labels with magical ingredient labels. I include lots of label designs in my Wizarding Enchantments Class Kit. It’s great fun to read them out to everyone.
Ideally, set up your classroom outdoors, or over flooring that can be wiped in case of spills. Cover tables and any surfaces that need protecting with a plastic tablecloth, and have several tubs nearby where you can dump the slimy used bowls and utensils. It is also super-helpful to have an assistant on hand who can whisk dirty dishes away and clean them while you lead the class.
Also keep on hand paper towel and wet wipes or a bucket of water for washing hands between experiments. If you’re near a sink or outdoor tap that’s also really handy.
Before we begin our session, I also like to start by telling my students a few golden rules:
- Pay attention and listen to all instructions BEFORE you begin – get it wrong and your potion may just explode and singe off your eyebrows!
- No running around the classroom. Once again, spills and slippages can lead to disastrous results.
- Never, every consume magical ingredients or throw them at your fellow students. Students who disobey will be fed to the dementors.
Once the golden rules are established, move onto your experiments.
Run your own amazing ‘Potions Class’ with the Wizarding Enchantments Class Kit – expanded and revised 2019.
A Note For Large Classes Or Parties
If you are running your class for a school group or a large party (more than 12 guests), you probably won’t want to have every child doing every experiment.
Instead, have a few children come to the front to do each experiment under your instruction. Engage the rest of the room with storytelling and by getting them to chant spells to make the potions work. Also, let everyone take turns feeling the end results from experiments such as slime and snow.