Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sorting Hat Ceremony

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat my self if you can find
A smarter hat than me."

The Sorting Hat, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

After getting their supplies from shops in Diagon Alley, the kids gathered together for the important Sorting Hat Ceremony.  This was so much fun for them!  Especially if you've got someone that can ham it up as the voice of the Sorting Hat trying to make up its mind!

To Make the Sorting Hat:
Carefully turn a brown paper grocery bag inside out so no printed store logo is visible.  Remove any handles.  Crumple and uncrumple the bag to soften the paper up and give it an aged look.  Then turn up the edges of the bag and roll them up a few times to form a brim.  Crumple and form the top part of the hat into a cone shape with your hands.  This should make a Sorting Hat that fits loosely over your guests' heads during the Sorting Hat Ceremony.

To Make the House Badges:
I printed out the House Badges with a color printer, 12 per page.  I laminated them, then cut them out and hot-glued them to pin backs purchased at a craft store (try the jewelry section).  Another option would be to print them out on labels as stickers to place on the kids' clothes.

Gryffindor Hufflepuff Ravenclaw Slytherin

The Sorting Hat Ceremony:
Before the party, we divided up our guest list into three Hogwarts Houses:  Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw.  With younger kids, we did not plan on putting anyone in Slytherin as we thought that might be cause for tears.  Older kids might not mind it. There should be roughly the same number of kids in each group, and it's likely that the birthday boy or girl will want to be a Gryffindor like Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione.

In a hidden nook in the room, I placed the listening end of a baby monitor (the unit the parent listens to for the baby's crying). The other unit (the one usually in the baby's room) went in another room, where the kids couldn't see it.  My husband hid in there and announced the Sorting Hat's choice for each child via the monitor.  Make sure your helper has a prepared list of the guests and their assigned Houses, and use a pre-arranged order as well, since the hidden adult may have trouble hearing what's going on in the other room.

Other technology that you might try if you don't have a baby monitor:  walkie-talkie set, intercom phone, cell phone with speaker on; Facetime if you have iPhones; remote microphone, tape recorded or digitally recorded announcements (with someone hitting the play button at the right time).

Call each child's full name and have them come up front and sit in a chair.  Place the Sorting Hat on their heads.  Have the Hat announce his decision, then everyone applauds just as they do in the story.  It's fun if the Sorting Hat is undecided and has to debate over his decision for some of the children. Pin or sticker a House Crest to each child's robes before they sit back down.

After the Sorting Hat Ceremony, the kids moved onto their classes.  Since there were 3 House groups, I worked out a rotation schedule for three activities:  Transfiguration, Potions, and Herbology.

A Sample Class Rotation
Gryffindor:  Transfiguration 1st, Potions 2nd, Herbology 3rd
Hufflepuff:  Potions 1st, Herbology 2nd, Transfiguration 3rd
Ravenclaw:  Herbology 1st, Transfiguration 2nd, Potions 3rd

Next Stops:  Transfiguration Class  or
Potions Class  or
Herbology Class