# Harry Potter-Inspired Learning Activity: A Quest for Wizardly Efficiency

In this lesson designed for students in grades 3-6, kids receive a five-page handout including a printable map and a series of tasks to complete. Using time management, prioritization, math, map reading and critical thinking skills, they (1) determine how to complete the tasks in the most efficient way possible, and (2) consider the potential impact of each of their decisions.

Students of all ages love Harry Potter! See Education World’s How Does Social Change Happen? and Character Sketch for a New Wizard as well as Design a New Wizard Sports Team.

Directions (the full-length version of the directions is included in the student handout):

You are a young wizard studying at a famous Magic Academy. One morning, you discover that your friend has the dreaded “Curse of Reverse,” which you’ve studied in school.

Curses can become permanent if not treated quickly. So you need to find a potion that will lift the curse as soon as possible. You think you can figure out how to do this, but you aren’t quite sure what to try first. Consider the tasks and questions listed on page 2 and 3 of the handout, as well as the map on page 4, to help you decide which actions you should take so that you can best help your friend. Then on page 5, write out your plan for completing the tasks, and add up your time to see how well you did.

There is no one right answer to this challenge—your goals are to (1) use good decision-making and planning skills and (2) complete the task as efficiently as you can. When we are efficient, it means that we save time and effort whenever possible. Remember, though, that a plan that takes a few minutes longer may be a better plan if you had good reasons for choosing to complete tasks in certain ways.

When selecting your methods, consider the following:

1. How long will it take to do the task PLUS travel to my next desired location?

2. Will you simply choose the method that takes the least amount of time, or do you have a good reason for choosing to do a task in a different way, even though it might take a little longer?

3. Once you complete one step in the process, try to imagine what will happen next. Are there any challenges or problems that could occur if one method of accomplishing a task is chosen over another?

Finally, use the table on page 5 to record information about the methods you’ve chosen to accomplish the tasks. Make sure you’ve added the task and travel times correctly, and that you have a good reason for each method you’ve chosen.

Notes to Teachers:

• Instead of having students work individually, consider asking them to work in groups and then report back to the whole class regarding how they chose to complete the tasks, and why. Or, the entire class can work cooperatively to complete a single plan.
• Encourage students to be creative in terms of imagining “what could go wrong” if a particular method is chosen to complete a task. In case students have trouble generating these ideas, teachers should be prepared to suggest some.
• Prior to giving this activity to students, teachers would benefit from sketching out a few versions of possible plans using handout page 5 (Your Plan).
• Have students work on handout page 5 (Your Plan) in pencil. Provide extra copies so that students can produce a clean final copy from one or more drafts. You may choose to have students complete the “Reasons for Choosing” column on a separate piece of paper, since there is limited room on the worksheet. Before asking students to fill out the Your Plan page, work through a sample line in the table as a whole class. Here’s an example:

Method(s) I Will Use to Complete:  Search recipe books

Reasons for Choosing:  Recipe books would have the most information. The alchemist may not remember the exact recipe I need, and experimenting by myself will take too long, since I am a student and still have a lot to learn about making potions.

TASK Time Needed (in minutes):  30

Where I Need to Go Next:  Spells Library

Travel Time Needed (in minutes):  20

TOTAL Time Needed for Task + Travel (in minutes):  50

Time Used So Far:  50

Ideas for extending the lesson:

Writing, drama:  Students write or act out stories or scenes based on their completed plans.

Critical thinking:  Kids invent additional methods of completing the tasks using the locations on the map. For example, maybe in order to obtain potion ingredients, the young wizard can ask professors at the Magic Academy, rather than gathering ingredients from the Enchanted Forest or purchasing them from the Alchemist’s Store. Ask students to estimate how long it would take to complete the task in this new way, and what some potential pros and cons might be for this approach.

Math and science:  Students research homeopathic remedies to find ideas for possible potion ingredients. (Or teachers provide a variety of simple, non-toxic ingredients for actual experimentation.) Then, using measurements such as cup, pint, tablespoon, etc., kids invent combinations and proportions of ingredients comprising the potion that will lift the “Curse of Reverse.” If students are learning about fractions and common denominators in class, teachers can ask them to tally the totals for different types of measurements within their recipes (e.g., if you have a quarter-cup of ingredient A and two-thirds of a cup of ingredient B, convert the fractions to 3/12 and 8/12, then add to get 11/12 total cups of ingredients).

Art:  Students illustrate each of the five tasks—showing the young wizard, his/her location, and other characters (such as the friend stricken with the Curse of Reverse) who might be involved.

Technology:  Kids use a graphic design program to create a comic-book style print project, complete with clip art or public domain images, as well as dialogue appearing in “speech balloons.”

Article by Jason Tomaszewski and Celine Provini, EducationWorld
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