This spring, I attended the Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference for the third time. Kweli is a conference for writers and illustrators who identify as Indigenous or as people of color. It is organized by Kweli Journal and its founder Laura Pegram.
Everything about Kweli is joyous and rejuvenating. This year, I submitted a manuscript for critique and not only received wonderful feedback, but my manuscript was selected for the Kweli/SCBWI Emerging Talent Award. The award includes an all expenses paid scholarship to the 2019 SCBWI Summer Conference in LA! I'm honored to have been selected for this award and looking forward to learning at the summer conference in LA.
Here is a blog post I wrote for Kweli about my conference experience on Craft, Community, and Love.
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OK. I'll admit it. I am an adult who loves all things Harry Potter. As a teacher and children's writer, I know I'm not alone though. So when thinking about summer camps to offer at my school, I decided this would give me the perfect excuse to go all out!
I scoured websites with ideas for activities and food, then added my own creative spin. Below are some of our camp highlights.
I found the Sorting Hat puppet and queued my iPhone up to the sorting hat song in the audiobook of HP and the Sorcerer's Stone. I discreetly had it in my hand when I picked up the hat and the kids were surprised to hear the sorting hat's introduction of the school houses.
Next, I bought some Harry Potter School Rings and when the sorting hat was put on the kids' heads, they chose a ring from a bag I held out. I told them that the sorting hat took their wishes into account and if they had a strong desire for a particular house, they could choose again. Some were happy with their first choice and others picked until they got what they wanted. All in all, it kept feelings positive for the rest of the week.
I've made wands before using sticks that we stripped and sanded. After staining and embellishing with hot glue and paint, they were unique and realistic, but lacked one essential element...a core. So when I found this cool tutorial by Marigold at Hideous Dreadful Stinky I thought it sounded perfect, and it was. The trick to adding a core is using a hollow medium, bamboo in this case. I cut the bamboo to about 12 inch lengths and basically followed Marigold's directions. For cores, we used phoenix tail feather, unicorn tail hair, and dragon heartstring. I read my students a description of each core from the Pottermore wiki and the list of famous wizards and witches that possessed wands with each. Most of the students picked phoenix feather or unicorn hair and we had fun decorating and painting our wands with hot glue, paint, and glitter
So now that my students had wands, they needed proper training on how to use them. Curt "Moose" Jackson shared a great dueling activity and spell list on SummerCampProgramDirector.com. I printed the list for my students on the first day and we circled all of the offensive spells. I gave them homework to learn at least three offensive spells they could use in our dueling competitions during the week. We played a few times and winning duelers earned points for their houses. Hufflepuffs rocked the duels this week!
The Horcrux Hunt was a scavenger hunt all around our school campus. I used the basic directions and clues found at the Leaky Cauldronand SummerCamp ProgramDirector.com, but made a few changes. During the hunt, one of the boys tried to run into a girls' bathroom and was shooed back out by the girls. Another funny moment was during the hunt for the final horcrux. It led to the headmaster's office and I almost got in trouble when the kids ran past the portrait of Harry sitting by the door and barged INTO our headmaster's office and began looking around. Oops! Fortunately, he had a great sense of humor about it (Thanks, Brad)
Hula hoops...wooden stakes...duct tape. A quidditch field is born.
Our brooms were the latest model of the Aguamenti Flyer (pool noodles and twig bunches). For the quaffle, I used a lightweight volleyball and for the bludgers, I found the Diggin Tough Sports Rock Playground Ball. It is a dense foam ball that looks like a rock. Perfect for bludgers! The beaters loved throwing these at opposing players from the sidelines. Here were our rules:
Players (7 on each team and 15 total)
Players must stay on their brooms at all times. Chasers come to center field for the toss up. Teams earn 20 points for getting the quaffle through the center hoop, and 10 points for each of the smaller hoops. Every 10 minutes, players will swap positions on their teams. The game ends when the Snitch is tagged.
Our recipes for the week included:
Our most fun (and messy) recipe was one of my own inventions...Potted Mandrakes. For Herbology class, I told my students we would be repotting mandrakes. Our "mandrakes" were actually chocolate rice cereal treats dusted in cocoa powder and planted in Oreo cookie "dirt." I got the ideas by looking at recipes people had created for mandrake cakes, many of which involved using a rice cereal treat mandrake covered in fondant. Instead, we formed the bodies around plant stems (washed thoroughly) using pipe cleaners wrapped in aluminum foil to make the arms and legs. The pots are biodegradeable paper pots that I got from the dollar bin at Target. I added labels I found here.
At the beginning of the week, I told my students we would be collecting gently used books to donate to charity. Because the Harry Potter books had inspired them all so much and helped fuel their love of reading, I wanted them to pass that gift along to another child. The kids could earn house points for bringing in books, but most did it just to be helpful. We collected a huge plastic tub of books and I delivered it along with a selection of candy from our Honeydukes shop. All in all, we donated at least 60 gently used books to the Home of the Innocents, which does great work in Louisville helping abused and neglected children and children with autism and other special needs. I got a wonderful thank you note a few weeks after I dropped off our donation.
So that was our magical summer camp! We did many other activities, but hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you.