Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Herbology Class

" The cry of the Mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it."

Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Herbology class at Hogwarts is conducted out at the greenhouses by Professor Sprout.  A small outdoor area -- patio, garden, or yard -- will be a good spot for the Herbology activities at your party.

Flesh eating slug repellent
Oi!  Flesh eating slugs are destroying the school cabbages, flowers and plants!  The kids' assignment is to sprinkle some Flesh eating slug repellent onto the flowers, bushes, grass, garden or whatever plant life you have at your house.  I used a couple of baby powder canisters and Crystal Light canisters (holes punched in the tops), covering up the labels with my own Slug Repellent labels.  Any kind of non-toxic material (try flour or cornstarch) will do. Save and print the Slug Repellent image here to use as labels.

Mandrake roots
One of the funniest scenes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the one where Harry and his classmates are repotting mandrake roots.  They yank them out of the soil by the tops, and the mandrakes scream horrendously.  Ear protection is required to prevent injury or death.

  • A couple of earmuffs or headphones
  • Potting soil
  • Big bucket or other container to hold the potting soil (I used an old sandbox)
  • Small garden shovels or sand shovels
  • Ginger roots, one for each party guest (find in produce section of grocery stores)
  • Black permanent marker

I drew funny faces on each ginger root, filled a sandbox with potting soil and buried the ginger roots in it.  The kids put on ear protection, dug through the soil with a shovel until they found a Mandrake root.  They keep the root in their cauldron (black party bag) as a party favor.

The kids had the chance to taste gillyweed, which is the plant that Harry uses in The Goblet of Fire to help him grow gills and breathe underwater.  For gillyweed, I used pieces of dried seaweed, also called nori, which is sold in the Asian food section of supermarkets.  It's the seaweed used for sushi.  Many kids will think the gillyweed disgusting, so have a trash can handy so they can spit it out.  On the other hand, all the Asian kids at our party were used to eating this stuff and gobbled it up.

Planting Pumpkin Seeds
  • small clay pots
  • pumpkin seeds
  • potting soil
  • plastic wrap
Each of the kids in Herbology also got to plant a couple of pumpkin seeds in a small clay pot.   I reserved a bit of potting soil from the Mandrake activity and put in a bucket labeled "Dragon Dung Compost."  Use this soil, add a bit of water, then wrap the pot tightly in plastic wrap to prevent the soil from spilling out.  The pots are kept in the kids' black party bags as party favors.

Next Stop: Transfiguration Class or
Potions Class or
Outdoor Activities