The one about Harry Potter in the classroom

I am 10,000% obsessed with Harry Potter. From the moment I started teaching, I kept looking for ways to incorporate this novel into my classroom. I really wanted to be able to show my students the magic of these books, even though it’s now so easy for them to have seen the movie without ever having picked up the books. Besides prior exposure, I was also worried that Harry Potter was a long book, so my students might get tired of it. Two years ago, I finally decided I had the perfect unit to incorporate Harry Potter into…mysteries! {Read more about my mystery unit here.} And I was SO glad that I did! 

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Here are some of my favorite takeaways about why using Harry Potter was a fantastic choice:
  1. It’s a model for both the fantasy AND mystery genre. Everyone knows that HP is a fantasy series, but the whole series is a mystery also. The first book in particular has its own individual mystery, with all of the elements, from detective to suspects to clues and even a red herring. 
  2. Students love the vivid details. J.K. Rowling really describes her wizarding world so well that students get into every detail. The passages work well for showing students how to visualize what an author presents AND how to create their own visual narratives. 
  3. It’s a model for ALL THE THINGS. Besides imagery, this book works for plot, types of conflict, point of view, character development, and more. During and after reading this novel, we used this book as a model time and time again for a variety of our reading skills.
  4. Illustrated Edition = AMAZING. If at all possible, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the illustrated edition. If it’s not in your budget, get a copy from your local library. My students loved the pictures. Several of them looked for illustrated copies of the second book to continue reading the series too. Also, I bought a couple of the coloring books and had the pictures available for my students to color while we read.
  5. It’s a series. Speaking of continuing the series, isn’t that the point? I love picking books that are part of series, or they’re by an author with a few books out, so I can get my students hooked. HP checks that box easily!
  7. Book and movie comparison! After we read the book, we had to watch the movie. Some of my students who had seen it before were now watching with new eyes. *spoiler alert!* They were distraught over Peeves missing (me too!) and the logical potion part of the journey to retrieve the stone, among other things. 

Are you a Potter fan? Let me know how you have used Harry Potter in your classroom!

Looking for more specific ways to target comprehension skills with Harry Potter? Try this lapbook, which focuses on monitoring & clarifying (close reading) skills with the mystery clues, track vocabulary words, analyze characters using character traits, and write creatively. 

I love the Wizard Dictionary where students can write all of the new words they learn. I’ll never forget the first time I read the word “muggle” and one of my students (who wasn’t usually interested in reading) looked at me with intrigue and said, “What’s a muggle?” (Cue me doing a happy dance about the excited reader!) 

Okay, now I’m ready to go re-read the books. Again. 🙂

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