Even as a kid I was never really into the spy stuff. I think this program had a decent number of cool activities, but I just didn’t have the normal enthusiasm. Or maybe it was something in the air because I remember my boss being very low energy that day too. I think we were all taking the election results to heart and it had a negative impact on morale.

We started the night with having the kids make ID badges with a code name and a copy of their fingerprint. Then we used toothpicks and a cornstarch mixture to make “invisible ink”. It magically appears when exposed to heat, so you could put it in an over or (like I did) run it under the iron to reveal a secret message.

The spy training portion of the program was playing a really large group game of spot it. I was hoping there would be a spy or detective themed version, but there wasn’t so we played the regular version. There were complaints of cheating and not being able to see.

We actually spent the bulk of the program going over the pigpen Cipher, I had passed out a paper with the alphabet grid and a secret phrase. After the pigpen cipher we partnered up and worked on building a secret decoder wheel for encrypting and encrypting secret messages. The kids had a bit of a time figuring out the cipher and decoder so I did a lot of walking and fixing as I went.


The last activity of the evening was to dust for fingerprints. I made my own powder out of cornstarch and tempra paint.

Registrations: 28
Attendance: 18
Activity: ID Badges
Activity: Cornstarch Invisible Ink
Activity: Spot It Game
Activity: Pigpen Cipher Decoding
Activity: Secret Decoder Wheel & Encryption
Activity: Dust for Fingerprints


Pokemon Sun & Moon Party

I have been a pokemon fan for a very long time. In fact I remember buying and playing the pokemon soundtrack for the first movie….on cassette tape. I am not much of a gamer, as I m not good at finishing games, but I have bought essentially every nintendo system to play pokemon. So I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a pokemon party to celebrate the release of Sun & Moon.


I had a special guest helper for this program, a local teen doing a school project was shadowing me for a few hours and helping out. That being sad this was a pretty chill program.We had some snacks and really did some relaxing activities.

We started by making some pikachu headbands and face painting some red cheeks and all the kids were so cute.

I pulled out a set of the pokemon micro puzzles and let the kids work on those. They worked together really well, but then got a little upset I didn’t let them keep the figures. (Sorry kiddos, those are mine.) pikachuNext we created our own pokemon magnets by decoupaging some origami paper and printed pokemon pictures onto magnet backs.

Finally I let the kids pull out the games and play while I screened an episode of pokemon so any kids without games could watch the show while they ate their snacks,

Attendance: 15
Activity: Pikachu Headbands
Activity: Pikachu Microblocks
Activity: Pokemon Magnet
Activity: Play pokemon
Activity: Watch Pokemon


This program was all about a “magical” day at Hogwarts! I had several activities to represent the different classes a student would attend. Sadly, flying was out I think I got most of the important stuff.

DADA- Chalk Patronus
We started our evening by making a chalk patronus. Each kid got a piece of black construction paper and some colored chalk to draw their own patronus. I know there was a wolf and a tiger. A lot of kids didn’t know what a patronus was so I don’t know if I would do this specific activity again.

Ollivander’s Wands
For our next activity it was very important to make a wand. Our wands just happened to be tasty pretzel rods, swirled in chocolate and topped with sprinkles of the patron’s choosing.  The hardest part was telling the kids they couldn’t eat them right away and they had to wait (both for the chocolate to harden and for another activity). And yes, I know there is no Ollivander’s at Hogwarts, but getting a wand  is pretty important for the whole magic concept so no one complained.

Care of Magical Creatures Pygmy Puff
I set out yarn, pipe cleaners,  and googley eyes for us to make a pom-pom pygmy puff to represent care of magical creatures and they activity was meh. The directions honestly are not hard, but I lost a lot of time walking around and helping everyone. I will probably replace this with these super cute wrist owls from Pop Goes the Page.

Charms Wand Motions
Now grab those wands and get ready to learn some basic wand motions. I had the whole “class” stand and used this chart to teach wingardium leviosa, lumos, and nox. I will absolutely do this activity again (or something similar) as it was so easy and absolutely adorable.

wand motions

Ilvermorny House Sorting – Would you rather game
I made the decision not to do a Hogwarts sorting because I wanted to avoid breaking up families or anyone upset with their Harry potter houses. I was inspired by the upcoming Fantastic Beasts premiere to do an Ilvermorny house sorting instead. This sorting was pretty low-tech but incorporated some of the questions from a Harry Potter “would you rather” game. Each question had an answer represented by 4 different colors which were code for the 4 different houses. So I question would read “Would you rather pet a unicorn (blue) or ride a hippogriff (red) Each patron got a paper with the different colors and put hash marks next to their answers. At the end we tallied up the marks and the houses were revealed. I think this worked well for the sorting because it was more personal, but I had to edit on the fly when I realized a lot of kids actually hadn’t been exposed to much Harry Potter yet and wouldn’t understand a lot of the questions.

Divination – Aura Revealing Drink
The final activity was one of my favorites. I have seen people reading tea leaves for divination but I ran across a post on pinterest of someone who made magical divination drinks by hiding some food coloring under ice. When a beverage is poured on the ice it changes color and reveals the hidden aura. Needless to say the kids thought this was amazing. I also had them close their eyes and think for a moment about themselves to examine what they were proud of so it didn’t matter what color they got, they were so excited.

Overall this was a really fun program so I was a little bummed at the turnout. I think next time I have to use the words “Harry Potter” in the description and not just heavily imply that it is a Harry Potter-themed program. I also think it might help to try and schedule a Harry Potter program in October instead of November.

Registrations: 33
Attendance: 18
Activity: DADA- Chalk Patronus
Activity: Ollivander’s Wands
Activity: Care of Magical Creatures Pygmy Puff
Activity: Charms Wand Motions
Activity: Ilvermorny House Sorting – Would you rather game
Activity: Divination – Aura Revealing Drink

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Party

I advertised this program as a Fantastic Beasts Party with some snacks, a craft, and a Harry Potter trivia game. I was really, really hoping I would get more tweens and teens with the trivia thing because I have not learned my lesson. Of course everyone who signed up was pretty young. Of course my attendance took a hit because this program was on a Thursday night and things I try on Thursday night never go as well as on regular program nights. Oh, this is also the program where I learned most kids really don’t know much Harry Potter trivia.

Owl Bookmarks
I found some really cute owl bookmarks on pinterst. The kids basically just had to cut them out.

Harry Potter Word Search
On the Bloomsbury website I found a Harry Potter word search with just some common character names and illustrations from the new release. I thought it was a pretty simple puzzle, but it took the kids forever to finish and I saw a lot of cheating off of parents.

Fantastic Feather Key Chains
I ordered some 8-10″ white goose feathers and punched a hole in the bottom to connect a jump ring. The kids got some pipe cleaners, beads, and markers to decorate their Fantastic Feathers and connect them to the pipe clean and bead rings. Reds and oranges might be from a Phoenix, yellow from a Thunderbird, etc.

Harry Potter Team Trivia
Before the patrons arrived I had decorated each table with a sign of a Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts animal to designate the teams. I remember making unicorn, dragon,  thunderbird, etc

Harry Potter Trivia Elimination Game
I had one Harry Potter coloring book to give away as a prize so I thought an elimination style trivia contest would be good. I had the kids line up and if they passed the question or answered correctly they went to the back of the line and if they answered incorrectly they sat down. When I got down to about 3 kids I didn’t allow any more passes.

Here we had a break for some snacks! I made a bowl of “butterbeer” and some chocolate frogs. The butterbeer was served with a scoop of ice cream to make it kind of foamy and like a root beer float. Actually, the buterbeer recipe had root beer, which I am personally not a fan of but I thought kids typically liked and I was very, very wrong. When I do butterbeer again I really will probably do cream soda, a shot of caramel flavoring, and some food dye.

Trailer of Fantastic Beasts Behind the Scenes Trailer and Interview With J.K. Rowling
While the kids were eating their chocolate frogs and butterbeer I projected a trailer and interview from the official movie website.

Registrations: 50
Attendance: 15
Activity: Owl Bookmarks
Activity: Harry Potter Word Search
Activity: Fantastic Feather Keychains
Activity: Harry Potter Team Trivia
Activity: Harry Potter Trivia Elimination Game
Activity: Trailer of Fantastic Beasts Behind the Scenes Trailer and Interview With J.K. Rowling.
Snacks: Butterbeer & Chocolate Frogs

Junior Scientists – Fun With Physics

While I generally try to sneak some cool information into every program I think the science nights are usually the most fact-heavy which always makes me nervous because I am always afraid I will be explaining something incorrectly.  The science nights sure are fun though!

I started of the night with a pretty packed room, so to gt some of the wiggles out I had the kids do some gravity experiments. What happened when they jumped up? What happened when they dropped a pencil? We talked about GRAVITY! Ah, but what happens if you drop a pencil and a feather?

We transitioned into the most popular activity of the night and if I ever do these in a program again I will know to do them last. I know people like to do paper airplanes to illustrate lift drag and weight, but I am the worst at folding paper airplanes so I ordered these cool gliders. They are cheap, they are pretty easy to put together and there are a few different kinds so not everyone is looking for the same thing after they throw them. And yes we threw them, repeatedly, and only stopping when I promised we would do it again at the end of the program.


The last activity was to create some marble runs. I talked about potential energy, kinetic energy, and conservation of energy. Each table got some marbles, a long piece of pipe insulation cut in half, bookends and a huge pile of books to build their marble run. The kids enjoyed this quite a bit, but the adults generally ended up having to hold the start of the marble run up high enough.

Registrations: 44
Attendance: 35
Activity: Gravity Experiments
Activity: Mini Gliders
Activity: Marble Runs