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Refrigerator Box Activities

Refrigerator and appliance boxes can be obtained by phoning local appliance stores ahead. You will need to arrange to pick them up yourself, usually at a specific time as the stores often don't have room to store them for long.

Platform 9 3/4

cardboard appliance box craftsUsing one box, cut off the back panel, leaving the top and bottom intact. You may wish to turn the box inside out if there is a lot of print; use packing tape or duct tape to refasten the edges where needed.

Using an over-sized rectangular sponge, stamp on some tempera paint "bricks" following the overlapping pattern you usually see on a brick wall.
Once dry, decide on your cutout lines, which should follow the zigzag shapes between the bricks. We used an uppercase "I" shape as a base and followed the lines of the brick. The lines you cut will be the opening that magically appears on Platform 9 3/4. Have an adult cut through the line with an exacto knife for you.

Use a piece of dowelling, old hockey or broomstick and attach a sign to each side--"Platform 9" and "Platform 10", then lay this along the top of your box pillar. Tape it down to keep it from rolling away. Now you can try getting on the platform! This can also be used to make a breakaway wall for the castle below.

Build a Castle

     cardboard castle         appliance box castle

This one requires a fair bit of space!

Use either three refrigerator boxes, two refrigerator boxes and an oven or washing machine-sized box, or one refrigerator and two smaller boxes. The two similar boxes will be your end towers, and the other will lie down on its side in between. In the middle box, you will be making a drawbridge. Choose your shape and draw it ahead.
When you cut it out (an adult needs to do this please!), be sure to leave it attached at the bottom. Cut a hole into each of the two top corners of the door, and another in the main wall beside the tops of the doors. It is a good idea to cover these with a layer of duct tape for reinforcement.
You will need to measure how much heavy yarn or rope you will need to thread through these holes to allow your drawbridge to open completely, and add about 20 cm for tying knots in place. Now it's time to line up your towers. Cut an opening in the back of each tower that will allow the largest of the children to easily pass through. Copy this size and shape onto the wall facing the middle box and cut that out as well. Trace this shape onto the middle box for both towers and cut it out. Tape the boxes together so that the doors line up. The three boxes together will form a tunnel with an extra opening at the front through the drawbridge. Cut out extra windows as desired, then have the kids decorate their castle. Try adding a paper portcullis to the windows and an extra door, and use a large rectangular sponge to stamp tempera or poster paint brincks onto the cardboard. Some other things you may wish to add:

  • paper cone and tissue paper torches
  • a periscope
  • a sliding brick to allow you to secretly watch for intruders
  • a breakaway wall (see platform 9 3/4 above) that "breaks" when hit with rolled-up sock "artillery"
  • a dungeon with a barred window
  • a courtyard with cushions, seats, games, etc. inside
  • a secret room or passageway
  • painted or plastic ivy on the walls
  • banner with the royal coat of arms
  • a stable
  • thrones

Wizard Coins and Runes

wizard coins and runes from polymer clayHere are two ways to make coins; the first is to spray-paint buttons of different sizes, the second is to make these from polymer clay.

From polymer clay, choose metallic or transparent colours. In one of the Harry Potter books (the first or second), Ron comments that muggle money has a strange shape, so you may want to consider this when deciding on how your galleons, sickles and knuts will look. Be sure to use only polymer-clay dedicated tools (meaning, don't use cutlery you intend to eat with later on). We used a plastic knife, the lid from a pen, some alphabet stamps and some toothpicks to make ours. Bake as directed on the package.

Wizard runes can be made the same way. Use your favourite rune symbols and carve or stamp them onto polymer clay coins.


If you are in a hurry, store-bought enamel-painted chopsticks work well.

Harry Potter wizard wands from sticks     
      If you would like to make your own, you will need:

          one short thin stick (between 16 and 35 cm long)
          food colouring or tempera paint and brushes
          clear acrylic craft varnish
          optional: cellophane or masking tape ("spellotape" for Ron's broken wand)
          optional: fancy wooden knob and a little white glue or carpenter's glue

Carefully peel the bark from your stick. Sand the ends so that they are smooth and rounded. Mix a few drops of tempera or food colour with a couple of teaspoons of water and mix. More water will make a lighter colour, less a more vivid colour. Paint your stick and let dry. Apply a coat of varnish to your stick and let that dry.

If you wish to add a wooden knob, choose the widest end of the stick and screw it onto that end. If the stick is too thin to receive a knob screw, use pliers and remove the screw then insert the stick into the resulting hole. You may need to enlarge the hole with a drill. Once you have a fit, remove the stick, add a little white glue or carpenter's glue and insert the stick, wiping away and excess glue. Let dry, then finish the handle in the same way you finished the stick part of the wand.
Another wand option is the paper wand, in which you roll up a sheet of paper and swirls of glue-gun glue around it. You then paint the entire thing a darker colour, let it dry then paint the raised parts a lighter shade. Detailed instructions for this can be found here.

No-Sew / Low-Sew Robe

If you are in a hurry, this may be the perfect Hogwarts student robe for you. These robes will work for most kids up to about 10-11 years or so. The finished length is the same as the original length of the shirt, so choose your shirt size accordingly.


    • one xxxl (largest you can find) adult-sized plain black t-shirt
    • scissors
    • a gold button and needle and thread and a tiny amount of clear nail polish, varnish, or glue gun glue (to reinforce the button hole), or adhesive velcro/hook and loop tabs
    • optional: iron-on ink jet paper, printer (to make your own crest)
    • optional: double-sided iron-on fabric adhesive (to tidy up the seams)

Find the centre of the front of the t-shirt at the collar. Cut a tiny slit downwards. Now you can tear the shirt along the cut or continue cutting down the centre until you reach the bottom. Either sew on your button about 2" down fron the start of the cut on one side, or attach your velcro tabs on either side here. If using a button, you can make a button hole in the other side. First determine the location of the hole, then spread a little clear nail polish, varnish or hot glue (you will need to smear this to make it flat) on the back of where the hole will be and let this dry. This will reinforce the hole and help keep it from tearing or spreading. Now, using your scissors, cut a hole a little smaller than you will need for the button. Try forcing the button through the hole, and adjust the size of the hole as needed (it's easier to make it bigger than to make it smaller!).

To clean up the seams without sewing, you will need to use your fabric adhesive. Follow the manufacturer's instructions where the vary from those given here. Cut a strip of fabric adhesive about 1.5-2 cm or about 1/2" wide and as long as the length of your original cut in the shirt. Without removing the paper backing, iron the strip onto the back of the edge of the seam on one side and let cool slightly. Peel off the paper, then fold the fabric back so that the adhesive is on the inside. Iron the seam into place. Repeat on the other side.

To make a house badge, find or create your desired logo. There are many available online, but you will need to check with the author's terms of use first before proceeding. Use a photo editor to make a mirror image of the design, then print it onto iron-on ink jet paper. Cut out the image, then iron on according to the instructions that come with the paper.
Another alternative for a robe is a graduation robe or an old-fashioned church choir robe.

Other costume ideas:

For most of these, you will need to search your closet, borrow rom friends and relatives, and/or peruse the local thrift shop for various finishing touches.

Luna Lovegood: Dirigible plum (radish) earrings and a necklace of butterbeer (wine) corks are a must. Besides this, any especially odd combinations will work--particularly if they involve bright flowers and a superstituous story to explain their significance. Luna's shoes often go missing, so barefoot (depending on the weather!) would also suit.

Tonks: Wear brightly coloured (or multi-coloured) hair and a pig's nose, along with robes or muggle attire.

Weasleys: Red hair and standard robes: for Arthur Weasley a bathrobe; for Molly Weasley a dress or set of robes that looks like a set of curtains along with knitting needles and a long strand of knitted fabric; for Bill a scar on his face and a ravenous hunger for raw meat

Hagrid: Find an oversized leather or fur coat (or similar), optional football or hockey shoulder pads to fill it out, add a fake beard and a rope for a belt, speak lovingly of creatures often feared or "misunderstood". Optional: add a few makeup scratches etc. for dramatic effect and/or add a stuffed animal or two peeking out of various pockets

Colin Creevey: Wear robe as above and follow everyone around with an oversize camera (real or toy).

Seamus Finnigan: Wear standard robes but dust your face lightly with dark grey or black powder and tease your hair up and back to mimic it being blown back by an explosion

Dudley Dursley: Choose large yet prissy clothing (shorts and a jacket, better yet, his school uniform of a maroon tailcoat, orange knickerbockers, a boater, and a knobbly stick); pad the clothing and take on an ape-like stance as you walk; for a young version of Dudley, wind a piece of pink pipe cleaner loosely around a pencil then sew one end to the shorts to make a pig's tail

Hermione after taking Polyjuice Potion: Dress in standard robes, tease your hair gently to imitate Hermione's normal hair, add a cat nose and whiskers using a partial mask or makeup

Professor Trelawney: Wear large round glasses (look in a second hand store for some & remove the lenses); tie a scarf around your head, add lots of dangling necklaces and bracelets

Professsor Snape: Darken your hair if needed, then comb in gel and/or conditioner to give it a greasy look; wear black esp. a tight-fitting faux-collared shirt (or a black turtleneck/mock turtleneck shirt); wear a simple black robe or cape, scowl and mutter as you walk.

Professor Sprout:: Tease your hair then add some leaves and twigs to it; smear a little mud here nd there on your face and hands; wear a mud & grass stained apron with various garden tooks in the pockets; wear a pair of earmuffs around your neck

Professor McGonagall: Use hair gel to slick your hair back and up into a very tight bun. Find a pair of dark-rimmed half-glasses ($ store reading glasses with the lenses popped out work well), and wear them low on your nose. Wear a conservatively cut dark dress or blouse and straight skirt. Add a touch of tartan to the outfit with a plaid scarf or wear a plaid skirt. Optional: add a witch's hat withlarge feathers and/or tartan trim. Purse your lips and look down your nose through your glasses at misbehaving young witches & wizards.

The Fat Lady (aka the guardian of the Griffindor common room): find a large, empty picture frame; dress in a large (padded) fancy dress (with lots of brocade if you can find it); carry the frame with you and pose inside; ask people for the password every now and then. Optional: hang a piece of fabric from the back of the top of the frame to form a background

Moaning Myrtle: Wear your hair in pigtails, wear thick glasses, dust your face with white powder, wear an old-fashioned dress or typical school uniform (in grey) and cry/squeal/moan at the drop of a hat; take anything and everything personally and beg for compliments when possible

Rita Skeeter: wear horn-rimmed glasses on a chain, a pencil (or quill) over your ear, carry a notebook and a fancy quill (a party shop will carry one--sometimes in the wedding section for signing guest books--leave it white or colour it purple etc.); wear a form-fitting feather / boa trimmed dress in lime green if possible, if no feathers or boas, substitute lots of bangles instead; wear bright red lipstick; speak quickly and don't let others get a word in edgewise

Dolores Umbridge: wear a putrid pink and flowery polyester suit, a pink bow on your head, jewellery with kittens as part of the design (or anything other sickeningly sweet accessories you can find), add a locket (for the last book esp.), wear matching shoes with a bow if possible

More great Harry Potter costumes can be found at this external link.

Knitted Pygmy Puff

This makes a great first knitting project as it only requires a few rows of garter stitch and is very forgiving!


    • a small amount of novelty yarn, the furrier the better
    • knitting needles--5 mm work well, but anything close to that will do
    • a cotton ball or piece of scrap fabric
    • tiny googly eyes or black buttons or beads
    • adult weilding a glue gun
    • a needle and thread, or a yarn needle and extra yarn
    • optional: about 2-3" of pink gimp, curling ribbon, or cord etc. to make a tongue

Cast on 11 stitches and knit 14 rows of garter stitch (knit each row, no pearls etc.). Cast off, leaving a small tail. Place your cotton ball or other stuffing in the centre, then sew the edges together to close. Curl the tongue material, then glue it and the eyes into place.

Click this external link for more Harry Potter-themed knitting patterns

Aging Paper

how to make tea-aged paper invitations and stationery

Aged paper brings an authentic look to pirate maps, medieval invitations, "old" manuscripts and lots of other themed stationery.


    • regular computer paper with as much post-consumer recycled content as possible
    • a black and white printer, homemade quill (see below) or calligraphy pen and ink
    • black tea (other kinds will work but not as quickly or dramatically)
    • a bin or tray with sides that will hold water large enough to lay your paper in flat
    • clothesline and pegs
    • optional: an adult-supervised candle to singe the edges

First print out or use calligraphy to write your intended message. Note: if your ink is water-based and non-permanent, you should age your paper first before you add your message. Make up about 2-3 cups of strong tea. Add this to your container and let cool enough that it will not burn you if you stick your hand in it. Cold tea will still work well for this activity.
Slide your paper into the bin, one sheet at a time (so that the paper doesn't stick together) and let sit for 5-10 seconds before pulling it out. Let the excess tea drip off, then hang it on your clothesline to dry. Repeat for each sheet. If you still need to add your message, let the paper dry completely first.

To add a singed or burnt edge to the paper, light a candle immediately beside a flame-proof container, such as an empty metall wastepaper bin or staineless steel sink. If your paper catches fire, you will simply place it inside and let it burn out (or you can add water if using a sink). Carefully hold the edge of the paper close to the flame, then pull away and blow on it to put out any embers. Continue doing this slowly around the paper until you have your desired effect. Be sure all embers are completely out before placing the paper near anything flammable. Placing it on a baking sheet for the first few minutes afterward "just in case" is a wise idea.

Feather Quill

Pioneers and wizards alike find feather quills useful for writing. Try making your own and experimenting with your own scripts.

  • a large feather, such as from a Canada goose, a swan or other large bird
  • an adult weilding a sharp exacto knife
  • a little rubbing alcohol
  • some calligraphy ink (India ink or dark water-based paint will work, but not as well)
  • smooth paper to write on

Rub a little rubbing alcohol on the bottom 1/3 of your feather to help clean it up. You can trim of the very bottom down feathers as needed. Have your adult cut the bottom 1/4 cm (1/8") off the bottom of the feather, being sure to cut it at an angle. Now have your adult make a second cut to cut off the very tip of the end so that there is a flat part that is about 1-2 mm wide (about the thickness of a quarter or loonie). Finally, have the adult make a tiny slit about 1 mm up the centre of that last edge. To harden it, place it in water overnight then let dry or have an adult heat it over a flame (don't burn it, just "cook" it so that it hardens). Now dip your quill into the ink and try writing, but be sure to press gently as feathered quills are not known for their strength! As your quill wears out, you can trim more bottom feathers and re-cut the bottom, much like sharpening a pencil.
This external link has some interesting calligraphy alphabets to try out: http://calligraphyalphabet.muxgo.com/


Bowtruckels, introduced by Professor Grubbly-Plank in The Order of the Phoenix, are wooden creatures who are tree guardians and live in wand-trees.

To make a Bowtruckle, start with a creepy stick person: instructions found here. Instead of dressing the creature in fabric scraps, leave it bare, but add two tiny brown beads for eyes. Use a few grains of brown rice for their main food (wood lice) or some round cake sprinkles for their favourite food, fairy eggs.

Harry Potter Novel Study

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