Harry Potter and the Educational Potential

By now, some lucky movie-goers will already have seen a midnight premiere of the final installment of the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. The Harry Potter movies are great in and of themselves, but the educational potential of these films extends far beyond the silver screen. Help your child stop summer learning loss and get your Potter fix with some of these ideas!

The last book coming out was bad enough! Now they're done with the movies, too! (Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter)

Read the Books

In my experience, whenever I’ve loved a film, I’ve ended up loving the book more. While the idea of reading the actual Harry Potter series by JK Rowling may seem too obvious, some children who enjoy the films have never experienced the books. JK Rowling is a master of storytelling, combining enthralling creativity with a great narrative style. These books are literary treasures that can engage children of all ages, and even adults. One way to make the experience more meaningful is to have your child compare the books with the movies. Move beyond the basic question of “What was different?” and move into more opinion-based territory, asking your child questions about these differences. “How does the absence of Dobby in the fifth film impact the storyline?” is a question that helps kids become better at developing thesis statements, which are debatable assertions.

Write a Film Review

Are you one of the Chosen Ones who got to see the film early? Set your child to writing a film review! Look at published film reviews and discuss the difference between a film review and a film summary. Make sure to stress the importance of knowing who your audience is and what that means for your writing. For example, this means that if you’re writing a film review you want to give to friends and family, you don’t want to give away the ending of the movie, or any suspenseful plot points, because that might ruin the film for them! Being able to write to an audience is an extremely important skill for children to develop, so have them try writing a review for different audiences, such as someone who doesn’t like Harry Potter or to a mega-fan.

Create a Fanfiction

Just because the books end doesn’t mean the story has to. With Rowling’s blessing, many writers have taken her characters and created their own stories featuring those characters. Fanfiction is a way to practice creative writing in a fun and low-stress situation. Children are already familiar with the characters, and you can create prompts to help your child if he or she is stuck. For example, what would the seventh book/film have looked like from Snape’s point of view?

Cook Up a Spellbinding Treat

Baking is a great learning activity for kids, as it gets them to see the applicability of math and science in the real world. Let your child take the lead on this delicious Butterbeer Cupcake recipe, and pretend you’re at the Leaky Cauldron!

Find a New Book Series

Book series are great for reluctant readers, because once they’re enthralled in the series, they’re more likely to continue reading to find out what happens! Some of the best book series with a supernatural twist are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein, A Wrinkle in Time  by Madeleine L’Engle, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, The Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and Redwall by Brian Jacques. There are many more books that fit the criteria, but many of these books also offer movies to accompany them, which may help recreate some of the magic of the Harry Potter series.

While the end of an era comes with the release of this final Harry Potter movie, it’s important to remember that there are still great books to be found and great lessons to be learned from Rowling’s universe. Enjoy the final movie!


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