Early Girlie Homeschool

Grade 3

Welcome to Hogwarts Homeschool. That's right, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter fans! I decided to start the year in theme. Earlie Girlie received her letter from Hogwarts Homeschool from a stuffed Hedwig puppet. She was thrilled. We began prepping for school by exchanging currency, purchasing school supplies, making our own wands, bookmarks, and reviewing expectations. We created a House Behavior Chart and our own music glyphs for the film scores. I adapted Hogwarts-inspired worksheets to review and introduce math concepts. I planned lessons about the science of taste, because on the way to Hogwarts you need snacks! We created a a fun tasting challenge and graph of Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans (Jellybeans). Since my student had already seen the first two movies, we would be co-reading and comparing the first two novels: Harry Potter and The Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. One of the most fun field trips was meeting the cast of Harry Potter at Steel City Comicon. We met Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) in August 2016, and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) in December 2016. Jason Isaacs (Draco's father, Lucious Malfoy) will attend in April 2017.

As I was planning this in August, J.K. Rowling launched the Pottermore website, which features new short stories, Sorting quizzes, and tidbits about the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is a fictional Hogwarts textbook in the Harry Potter series, AND an actual book J.K. Rowling published in 2001 to raise money for Comic Relief charity, which aims to stop famine in Ethiopia! Already deemed one of the most important writers of our time, Joanne Rowling is proof that creative writing can entertain, educate, and inspire the world.  


Lesson Plans:

Hogwarts Homeschool Letter & School Supply List

Exchanging Money (foreign currency)

Gathering Supplies

DIY Wand Craft 

Olivander's Wand Shop Math Lesson

House Behavior Chart (Good and Not So Good)

Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans Taste Challenge & Graph

Quotes for printing practice

Music Glyphs

Character Riddles

Secondary Character Writing Prompt

J.K. Rowling Author Study & Bio


Lesson Plan Details:

Exchanging Money: We used currency from other countries and learned how to exchange money, using conversion rates. We counted cash to use for shopping, which requires budgeting and planning. This is something I'm not used to doing anymore. I use credit cards for pretty much everything, so she's not used to seeing me handing cash to anyone and getting change. I think using real money makes math more concrete and fun...and challenging.

At the post office, we used cash to purchase a souvenir stamp booklet "celebrating the adventures of Harry Potter". At home, we studied the history of pigeon carriers and the U.S. Post Office (Benjamin Franklin and the Second Continental Congress, 1775). U.S. postage stamps were first issued in 1847. In England, The General Post Office was established in 1660 by Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. We reviewed the letter sending and delivery process. I recently worked with 20-something interns who did not know how to address an envelope! So, I committed to teach my child the basics of letter writing. It's a great age to start a pen pal, and fan mail to those she admires.

DIY Wand Craft: Chop sticks served as the base for our wands. We used large wooden and glass beads for handles. We used hot glue to add texture to the wands, creating spirals or finger grooves. Finally, we used acrylic paint in flat and metallic colors. Then, we practiced a few spells. Wingardium LeviosaLumos

House Behavioral Chart: We needed something that would help her see that she is a good student, and that balking about work or not cooperating were counter-productive. She and Dad worked together to create the bottles. She labeled the categories: "Good" and "Not So Good".  She had to list behaviors under each category, which demonstrated that she understood what was acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Now all that was left was keeping track of her choices, just like Harry Potter and friends. At the end of the year, if she had more "Good" than "Not So Good" points, she would receive some type of House Cup. (Maybe we'll be making a House Cup on a clay wheel or from recycled trophies...TBD!)

Music Glyphs: "Ah, music...A magic beyond all we do here at Hogwarts." - Albus Dumbledore. I had to create my own music glyphs for John Williams' score of the Harry Potter films, which allowed me to focus on tempo, dynamics, rhythm, instruments, and mood. I used coloring pages as a springboard, and added my own categories. 

Secondary Character Writing Prompt: Pretend you are at Hogwarts, meeting the witches and wizards there, visiting the rooms, learning about the creatures. Examine a secondary character from the first Harry Potter novel and create a story about him/her/it. Describe the character's physical features. Detail what the character does in the morning, afternoon, and evening. It can be a day-in-the-life-of tale, or some type of adventure.

We studied how the Ministry of Magic works with the British Prime Minister and Monarch. We compared and contrasted the U.S. and U.K. governments. This would be a Presidential election year for us, so we would be able to study history-in-the-making. We studied how laws and rules are created to establish social norms, keep people safe, and maintain peace. Sometimes our laws exclude people too much and need to be amended, or change. We discussed Civil rights and Equal rights campaigns (which comes into play later in the stories, with slavery being explored via Dobby and the House Elves). We discussed how Harry, Ron, and Hermione are often bending and breaking school rules. What makes it OK to break a rule? If someone is in danger or about to get hurt? If it seems fun? If it seems important to break a rule rather than to keep it? 

There are some great biographies about J.K. Rowling to read and watch. We watched the authorized autobiography, in which Rowling takes us through where she wrote, where she lived, and the places she researched. She actually had the wrong train station in mind when she wrote that Hogwarts Express arrived at King's Cross Station in London- that station does not have brick walls, and platforms 9 and 10 are separate commuter rails. She was visualizing the London Euston Railway Station. Her parents met at King's Cross Station, so it still has a great meaning and nostalgic legacy. We learned so many interesting tidbits about castles, boarding schools, and Rowling's life. Reality and fantasy once again intersect in a magical way.


Earlie Girlie chose the next themed study, made famous by Walt Disney. The children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, was published in 1883. The protagonists are Gepetto, a toymaker or cobbler who yearns for a son, and the most famous little marionette "pine seed" puppet named Pinocchio, who dreams of being a real boy. His struggles echoes that of many children - he is often in trouble for being gullible, distractible, choosing the wrong path, for lying, and for not using his moral compass as a guide. His nose is the most famous feature, which grows when he lies, and shrinks when the Blue Fairy hears his confessions and absolves him. Earlie Girlie had gotten Jimminie Cricket doll during a trip to Seattle, and elected him to be her conscience. She had earned a Pinocchio plush with her Hogwarts Points. She often sat them next to her while doing work, as a reminder "to work, to be good, and to study". The music and dancing in the film inspired her to handwrite the lyrics of the song. This is a great tracing and copying activity for students who need help with printing or cursive writing.

In the photo above, we are testing her knowledge of dynamic symbols in music, following directions, and coloring skills. Because of CP, weaknesses in wrists and arms, eye teaming issues, and dysgraphia, she struggles with coloring inside lines, and putting thoughts onto paper. This is typical for those who had head trauma or brain damage to regions that control motor skills. At her age, these processes should be more automatic. She sees how effortless it seems for others, and that adds to her frustration. It's inside her mind, trapped. One of the biggest challenges for her was not feeling discouraged, moving slowly, and pushing past frustration. I am so proud of how much improvement she's made this year! No more hand-over-hand, no more strings!

The BFG and Daisy Dawson Series

I still remember how my school librarian read aloud Roald Dahl's The BFG. The Big Friendly Giant has been made into a film this year, thanks to Steven Spielberg! I jumped on the opportunity to have Earlie Girlie reading / hearing a novel, waiting for it to become a movie, and then seeing what she imagined from the story come to life on the big screen. I have experienced this many times, particularly with the Harry Potter series. Usually she wants to read books about her favorite characters in television or film media, or music. That process in reverse is different. The characters, the scenery, the imagery have already been defined for you. So when you read the book, that imagery is already there. You're just expounding on it. Reading a book, picturing the characters and their voices for yourself  requires imagination and more active engagement. There are many made up words in the book, so while she followed along, I decided to do most of the reading aloud. I tested her listening skills and we discussed our reactions as well as how Sophie, the BFG, and the Queen of England were handling the giant situation.

We started the Daisy Dawson series by Steven Voake partly because it's not on a screen, but mostly because the storyline is adorable. Daisy is a girl who is struck by the power to speak and understand animals because she wants to help them. The stories are easy to read, with lovable characters (and a nice contrast to the battles that go on in Harry Potter series and The BFG). Steven Voake is an English author and teacher whom the BBC is heralding as the next J.K. Rowling for his first novel, The Dreamwalker's Child. This is another book that will become even more famous after it hits the big screen. After reading excerpts, I can tell it has more serious content and will save it for later.

Due to the BFG's film premiere, I found lesson plans galore online, through U.K.'s Scholastic, Roald Dalhl's and the film's own websites. Many of the lessons overlap. We had a great time talking about our dreams, merging dream content, and trying to figure out if we really wanted to make or eat snozcumbers. Creating wiggly words was great fun. Once we see the movie, we will be able to see what was changed from the story, or if we recognize all of the characters from the book.

We explored communication and language. What happens when language seems nonsensical? Why does British English sound different than American English? Animals make their own barks, hisses, howls, and tweets...why is it that we cannot understand them? Can they understand us? When words and sounds aren't enough, what clues do we have left? Earlie Girlie remembers when she didn't have a voice at all, and could only communicate through Sign Language, gestures, and facial expressions. Those skills make her very aware and empathic when it comes to reading how other people are feeling, even despite what they may be saying. 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Next, we jump down the rabbit hole into the 1865 novel written by Lewis Carroll, a pen name for English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and its often-merged sequel, Through the Looking Glass. I asked Earlie Girlie to pick our next novel, and that was her choice. She saw ads that the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater would be performing Alice in Wonderland. At the bookstore, she found Disney's version and begged to see the film. 

I had her watch a documentary about Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell's influence on the story, before we read anything. We learned a lot about what inspired the story, where it was written, and how it became a stage play. Much like Roald Dahl's BFG, literary nonsense was part of the legend Lewis Carroll left us.

Again, we had to reason that "mad" means "crazy" in British English. We deciphered what a Mad Hatter was, that lead poisoning was part of why men who wore hats had become known to lose their minds a bit. We learned that 10/6 was the price of his hat - 10 shillings and a sixpence. I found that scientifically, there is a condition that causes people to feel bigger or smaller than they are, caused by fevers or migraines that Dodgson himself suffered from. Even in a fantasy world, there is a tie-in to reason, math, scientific logic. Dodgson knew this as a mathematician, and he playfully spun it into a story about a girl who questions who she is, and needs to find her way.

Alice's Adventures inspired Earlie Girlie. She quickly got the idea of throwing her own tea party this summer, for her Dad's birthday. I knew he would love the idea because he wanted to throw a Wonderland themed baby shower for me. I saw this as an opportunity for a real project to get her more interested in math and art-making. Party planning is about having fun, but the prep is about math and creativity. It's about budgeting. It's figuring out quantities - how much food, drinks, settings are needed. It's about space planning, square footage, dividing rooms into areas for eating and moving around. Party planning involves creative decorating - we get to make stuff! - and more budgeting).

We began studying Queen Victorian and the Victorian Era, and British high tea. Of course, that means discovering yummy recipes to try! I created an Alice's Tea Party Planning Guide with a lot of math activities on it. I asked my student to divide 1 whole sandwiches into 4 parts. She did squares, triangles, rectangles, and circles. Easy. The math of it was more difficult for her to grasp. So we kept at it, mostly because it seemed like fun and it seemed to be purposeful. I got out our U.S. and Canadian quarters (since 4 quarters makes 1 whole dollar), and we started playing with whole and ¼ parts in volumes. She already knew ¼ cup and ¼ teaspoon from baking, so this helped solidify the concepts of how ¼ ¼ ¼ ¼ = 1 whole.

Grandma got to work right away on a dress. She made a mockup, which Earlie Girlie began to wear around the house, to party plan and do her homework. Then we went to the fabric store and found a lovely turquoise satin material. She made a white striped apron with pockets, just like E.G. pictured Alice in her head. Earlie Girlie wore the fancy dress and apron to the ballet. As she posed for a photograph with one of the dancing Alice ballerinas, people asked if her dress came from their costume department! When the lights dimmed, we noticed that the outline of E.G.'s apron glowed! Grandma had unknowingly used glow-in-the-dark thread to do the rolled seams, so the effect was a great surprise. E.G. impressed us by how well she memorized the storyline and characters. She pointed excitedly to the White Rabbit and brown Cheshire Cat. She realized, "Oh, they're using blue fabric for her Ocean of tears!" The dancing flowers didn't talk, but were beautiful. Her dad liked the Mad Tea Party the best. My favorite was the playing card tutus, and how the Queen of Hearts came out of a large deck of cards in a magic trick. We all loved the performance, and had a lovely day outside afterward. It's amazing how one story-teller's ideas can carry through so many centuries!


Alice’s Tea Sandwich Math 

{This is an example of worksheets I created, and will hopefully have on TeachersPayTeachers soon!}

Alice is inviting 20 people over for a tea party!

How many sandwiches will she need if each person eats one (1) whole sandwich? ________

Alice will be making 4 different kinds of sandwiches. Label each sandwich below.

{Images of bread}

How many of each sandwich should she make to equal 20 sandwiches? (Use tally marks if needed.)

For a small tea party, there are 4 guests, and 4 sandwiches to share. The four sandwiches are: Roast Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, and PB&J. Help Alice divide each whole tea sandwich into 4 pieces. How many different combinations of sandwiches can you get?

The Science of Peeps

What happens when we apply hot water, food coloring, and other types of tests to Peeps bunnies? There are lots of fun worksheets to track hypothesis, test theories, and draw conclusions...which is exactly what we did. Neither of us wanted to harm the peeps, so I think real animal dissection is out.


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