Katie and I are almost finished with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I was curious about how her mind would grapple with the plot twist and the reversal of good/bad characters at the end, yet she is so deeply engaged in the story that she sailed right through the plot twists (and the potential confusion of some of the characters having nicknames/secret identities). It is a testament to the beauty and vivid quality of J.K. Rowling’s writing that my just-under-four-year-old can hold her own with this novel.

Last night we stayed up reading incredibly late—I love that. I’ll willingly be on the tired side today if it means sharing that magic moment of “just to the end of the chapter” and “let’s just start the first couple of pages of the next chapter” only to find ourselves through two chapters as the moon sails high. At its best, reading a great book brings with it a feeling of necessity, like we just cannot bear to put it down. I want Katie to feel that. I believe that if she feels that joy and wonder and lets those feelings seep into her every fiber, then she will be a lifelong and voracious reader. I want her to be consumed by the beauty of a great book’s vitality, to feel it be alive with her.

The Marauder’s Map is an object that features heavily in the plot of this third Harry Potter book. A magical object, the map reveals not only secret passageways into and out of Hogwarts Castle, but also the location and movement of professors and other notable characters via dots on the map that actually move. Katie and I decided to make a Marauder’s Map of our own.

Lesson: Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Skills addressed: maps and map-making, connections to literature, identification of significant characters, drawing and hand coordination

Materials needed:

1 piece of construction paper (white would work best)

Sharpie (I used two different colors. I like these because they don’t bleed while tea staining).

Tea bag


Matches (for parents)!

Jeweled dot stickers/any small stickers

To start, Katie and I drew her version of a map of the interior of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Although I gave her a few ideas, she generated places like the Great Hall (and drew dining tables with plates on her own accord), Hagrid’s house, Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, etc.

After drawing the map, I helped Katie label the places while I brewed and cooled a cup of tea. Here’s where I wish I had used a plain sheet of white construction paper. Although we have butcher paper and newsprint paper, we are actually out of white construction paper—I know, right?!? (A trip to the teaching supply store might be in order). I grabbed pink, thinking it would make our map have some pizazz. The problem is that the super-fun tea staining we did only barely showed up. I think if you want to make the map look like really old parchment, use the white paper.

Burning the edges, though, achieved the effect of making the map look more ancient.

This afternoon we sat outside and put on our jewel stickers to represent some of the main (and, okay, also some of the subordinate) characters. We happened to have these stickers on hand from another project, and just about anything else would work, too, including hand drawn dots. The mantra of my home school art projects is “stress free.” I do like a thoughtfully stocked and versatile home school supply cabinet, but I also don’t think we need to go out and buy special items for a craft like this.

Katie placed the stickers on, announcing who each sticker represented; Eric and I wrote the names in for her.

Ta-da! Our own Marauder’s Map! “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!”