Monday, 11 April 2016

Diagon Alley, a birthday feast, an ugly cake, and presents!

If you've stumbled across this post before reading the others, you might want to read up a bit on what we've done at the party up until this point! Part One covers the entrance to the party and the initial trip to Diagon Alley to pick up school supplies; Part Two covers the Sorting Ceremony, the first few classes, and a fight with a troll; Part Three covers Potions, magical duels, and Quidditch!

Following Quidditch and the final "boss" battle, it was time for the students to use up all those tickets! There were lots of goodies for sale in Diagon Alley. I didn't snap any photos of the sweets available at Honeyduke's (they sold out too fast), but the kids got licorice wands, leprechaun gold (chocolate coins), pumpkin pasties, sour straws, and a few other things that I'm completely blanking on at the moment. They could also buy spare wands, scrolls, and spell cards if they wanted. Flourish & Blotts sold house-themed bookmarks  and feather quills (yes, the quills actually work as pens). Eeylop's Owl Emporium sold real flying owls. ;) Weasley's Wizard Wheezes sold out of a lot of things before I could take this picture, such as water guns and various sizes of sparklers. Pictured here are some of the items we still had left: Impervius Touchable Bubbles, Never-melting ice cubes, pinwheels, and Snitches.

Once the kids were finished their shopping, it was time for the dinner feast (meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad, roast chicken), and then CAKE! 

Please don't think my spelling is actually this bad, lol, those of you who have watched the Harry Potter movies will hopefully understanding why this cake looks/is written the way it is. And if you haven't seen the movie,

A- what is wrong with you, stop what you're doing and go watch it RIGHT NOW, and

B - here's the clip this cake references, the applicable scene starts at 1:30:

After dinner and cake it was time for presents! Here are some of the guests (seriously, this is only about half or them, lol) while my son opens up his gifts. You can see the robes, scarves/ties/headbands they got, plus a lot of their new owls hanging around.

Final picture: this present was a HUGE hit. I can't count how much time my boys have spent pouring over this since the party, they love it!

After the presents were opened, we started watching the first movie. Some of the kids stayed inside to watch it (a few hadn't seen it yet), but about half went outside to play more Quidditch! From what I'm hearing, all the kids slept REALLY well that night. ;) My kids had a blast and I think the guests did, too! Thanks for reading about the party... it was a whole lot of work but SO worth it!

Ectoplasm, Duelling Club, and QUIDDITCH!

If you've just landed on this post, you'll probably want to check out Part One, where the students enter through Platform 9 3/4 and visit Diagon Alley for their supplies, and Part Two where they take their first classes!

After defeating the troll that broke in to the grounds, it was time to get back to the business of magical learning with POTIONS CLASS! In this class, we learned how to use Powdered Bulb of Narcissus to make Carnivorous Narcissus Ectoplam that is capable of drawing out elevated feelings of ego and self-importance. Muggles often mistakenly refer to this as "Magnetic Slime", having no idea of its true magical properties.

Here's the full text and instructions if anyone's interested! Oh, and if you want to try it... Mermaid's Tears = water, Unicorn Hoof = Borax, Essence of Boomslang = Elmer's Glue, Powdered Root of Narcissus = iron filings/powder, and Narcissus Pollen Pellets = magnets (the stronger the better). I'll put the text in italics again so you can just scroll on past if you want (though I do recommend reading the first paragraph at least).


Carnivorous Narcissus Ectoplasm

Carnivorous Narcissus Ectoplasm is advantageous in the treatment of over-exposure to the narcissus plant as well as for treating natural occurences of symptoms such as over-confidence, egoism, and self-absorption. The narcissus elements within the subject/patient will be drawn from the subject towards the active reagent in this potion (powered bulb of narcissus), as elements from a narcissus plant will be irresistably attracted to themselves. When the ectoplasm is removed from the subject, the narcissal elements that have been pulled from the subject will be removed along with it.
WARNING: Subject may react violently to the withdrawl of the ectoplasm upon realization that it has removed their over-confidence and egoism.
SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE: crying, sudden onset of humility, questioning of the subject’s life choices, and desperation to regain possession of the ectoplasm.


Begin with a clean cauldron
Measure 1 cup Mermaid’s Tears and add to cauldron
Add 1/2 teaspoon ground Unicorn Hoof
Mix thoroughly until the Unicorn Hoof has thoroughly dissolved in to the Mermaid’s Tears

In a second Cauldron, measure 1/8 cup of Mermaid’s Tears
Add 2/3 cup Essence of Boomslang
Stir until the Mermaid’s Tears and Boomslang have completely combined.

Slowly stir the Unicorn Hoof mixute in to the Boomslang mixture.
Once the mixture has begun to congeal into an ectoplam, commence mixing it with your hands. When the desired consistency has been achieved, drain out the remaining Mermaid’s Tears.

Remove your ectoplasm from the cauldron and flatten it on to your work surface.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Powdered Bulb of Narcusses on to the ectoplasm.
Fold ectoplasm over the powder and work the powder into the ectoplasm until the powder is spread uniformly throughout it.
Continue adding Powdered Bulb of Narcissues 1 tablespoon at a time and incorporating it into the ectoplasm until a uniforn dark grey appearance is achieved.
Test the efficacy of your ectoplasm by holding a small Narcissus pollen pellet next to it. If the ectoplasm is attracted to the pollen pellet, your potion has been made properly.

 The end result! Kids who successfully create the ectoplasm (which was all of them) got tickets to spend later.

 After Potions class, we moved on to Charms! In Charms the students learned how to duel. My son (the birthday boy) actually came up with this whole battle system, which was loosely based on Wizard101. We made up and handed out spell cards to everyone as well, so they could keep track of which spells they could use and what they did. (If anyone's interested, I can post pics of the spell cards as well, but I'd have to go digging for them, lol.) 

After learning about how the duelling system works, the kids got to participate in duels against each other. No pictures of the duels, sadly... keeping score proved quite an interesting challenge! Here's the full text:


Each wizard has at their disposal three types of spells: Inate spells, House specialities, and Wand enchantments. Inate spells are those spells which all wizards have access to and can perform. Today we will be learning the three most basic inate spells. House specialities can only be cast by members of a particular house, as they have been developed by members over many years and are uniquely suited to the gifts and personalities of wizards who are drawn to that house. Finally, wand enchantments are not so much a spell as a natural enhancement to your magic. Depending on the core of your wand, the magic your wand performs may be enhanced in various ways as outlined below.

Inate Spells
Episkey - a rudimentary healing spell, Episkey heals one person for 2 health.
Reducto - a basic attack spell. Reducto deals 3 damage to an enemy.
Diffindo - a counter spell, Diffindo deals 1 damage to an enemy and prevents that enemy from using their house speciality spell the following turn.

House Specialities
Hufflepuff: Cave Totalum - Thanks to their loyalty and friendship, any spell performed by an ally after Cave Totalum is cast will now act as a group spell. Ie, Reducto will damage all enemies, Episkey will heal all allies, Diffindo will counter all enemies, etc.
Gryffindor: Courgiato - Always willing to face danger, Gryffindor’s spell deals 1 damage to the caster, but doubles the damage of the next attack cast by an ally. (If enchanced by Cave Totalum, Courgiato deals 1 damage for EVERY ally whose attack will be enchanced.)
Ravenclaw: Geminio - A Ravenclaw’s quick thinking allows them to act twice as quickly as others. Geminio allows one ally (including the caster, if desired) to cast two spells in a row.
Slytherin: Recanto - A Slytherin is able to get in his enemy’s way to further his own plans. Recanto cuts the effectiveness of any enemy’s spell in half the following round, causing the enemy’s attacks to do less damage and heals to be less helpful.

Wand Enchantments
Each wand has a core that helps it channel magic for its wizard. Each core is also more efficient at performing certain types of magic, and it lends these benefits to its owner.
Unicorn Hair Wands: all heals cast by this wand will heal for 1 extra health.
Dragon Heartstring Wands: all attacks cast by these wands will do 1 extra damage.
Phoenix Feather Wands: grant 1 resistance to all incoming attacks.

As a novice wizard, you begin any duel with 15 health. There are 30 seconds between rounds for you and your allies to discuss a battle plan and choose your spells. Each wizard may cast one spell per round in any order you choose. Duel bravely and wisely!

Following duelling practice it was time for QUIDDITCH! We had to modify the rules a little bit since we (believe it or not) do not actually have a magical Snitch. ;) Each team got 2 points for getting the Quaffle through a small hoop and 1 point for getting through a large hoop. (They also won tickets for scoring goals.) The first team to 10 won the match.
Video of the game in action! 
While two of the houses would compete against each other in Quidditch, the other houses were told that a dark wizard had stolen the Sorting Hat, along with a lot of other valuables! They were tasked with finding the dark wizard and duelling her. If they could defeat the wizard (who for you wizard101 players was my son's design of a "cheat boss"; she would cast Cave Totalum on the first round, and Bombarda on the second to deal 10 damage to all players, then just repeat this over and over), they would win a bag full of loot (candy and more tickets)! Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of the "dark wizard", but the kids certainly found it challenging; only one team actually figured out how to win the battle, but MAN were they ever proud of themselves once they finally got it!

That was the last of our Hogwarts subjects for the day, and once the kids were done with battling the boss and had finished their Quidditch matches, they got to gather up their tickets and head back inside and to Diagon Alley to make their purchases, which I'll start a new post for.

Up Next: Part Four! The students make their return trip to Diagon Alley to spend their tickets, have a magical birthday feast, and watch the birthday boy open presents!

The Sorting, the first subjects, and an intruder!

If you haven't already read about Platform 9 3/4 and the student's initial trip to Diagon Alley to get their school supplies, click here!

Once the students picked up their wands, robes, and scrolls, it was time to head over to the Dining Hall for hte Sorting Ceremoney! Mr. Light pinned a two-way baby monitor in to the peak of the Sorting Hat and went in to the bathroom on the other side of the house. Through the monitor, he could hear what was going on, and when the kids sat down and put on the hat, he used the monitor to shout (from the hat) which house they had been sorted in to. The kids' responses were so adorable! 

 Thankfully, everyone seemed quite happy with where they ended up. After they got sorted, the kids all went to sit at their house tables. Waiting for them at their spot was a length of fabric in their house colours that they could wear to identify what school they'd been sorted in to; the kids wore them as ties, scarves, belts, headbands, ponytail wraps, tons of different things! You'll be able to see these in some of the pictures of the kids' playing in later posts.

Now that they were all sitting with their houses, it was time for History of Magic! We told the students to open their blue scrolls and explained that since so many of them were Muggle-borns, we would spend this first lesson going over an example of how Muggle history and Magical history interact with each other.

You can click on this image to read the scroll yourself, but for those who might have problems making out the tiny letters, here's the story as written on the scroll. I've put the story in italics, so if you want to skip it feel free to just scroll on past it until the italics stop.

History of Magic

The Legend of Narcissus as an example of Muggle misunderstanding.

Muggles look up to the ancient Greeks as the founders of philosophy, democracy, education, and many other worthwhile Muggle pursuits. What they do not realize, however, is the influence that the magical community had on many of their ancient Greek legends, which are of course not legends at all but feeble Muggle attempts to understand their occasional interactions with the ancient magical community. To illustrate this, we will examine the Muggle legend surrounding Narcissus.

In the Muggle legend, Narcissus was such an extraordinarily beautiful child that his parents became concerned about his ability to live a normal life. Out of concern, they visited the Seer Teiresias and inquired about what might happen to their son in his future. Teiresias told them that their son would live a long and happy life only if he “never came to know himself.” When Narcissus was sixteen he was walking in the woods and a woman named Echo saw him, falling madly in love with him and following after him as he walked. Narcissus, feeling someone shadowing his movements, asked “Who’s there?” Echo, enamored with his words, responded by saying“Who’s there?”just as he had. This repetition went on for some time until Echo decided to show herself. She tried to hug Narcissus who, confused and annoyed, stepped away from Echo, telling her to leave him alone. Echo was left heartbroken and spent the rest of her life wandering until nothing but an echo remained of her.

Nemesis, the god of revenge, heard Echo’s cries and decided to punish Narcissus for being so cold to her. He placed a lake in the forest where Narcissus was walking and caused Narcissus to see his own reflection in the water. He was so surprised by the beauty he saw there that he became completely enamored with himself. However, every time he reached in to the water to try to introduce himself, the reflection would disappear. And so, Narcissus slowly wasted away on the shores of the lake, staring at his own reflection, caring about nothing but his own beauty. The flowers that blossomed at the lake’s edge where he stood were named in his memory; the Narcissus flower.

Of course, the Muggles share this legend as a fairy story with its imagined gods and mystical beings, having no idea of the true magical circumstances behind the tale. In reality, there are only two magical beings who play a role in this story. The first is the Seer, Teiresias. Greek history is full of Seers who enjoy using their gifts to toy with the local Muggle populations (Teiresias, the Oracle, etc). These Seers would deliberately give the Muggles a small amount of information: not enough information to actually do anything about the future or prepare for it, but enough that they could later hold up their predictions and boast about their accuracy, privately mocking the Muggles.

The second magical being in this story is far more difficult to spot. In reality, the demise of Narcissus was not caused by an irate god of revenge or even his own beauty, but by an early Herbologist by the name of Apollo Deeproot. Rather than being a minor detail in the story, the Narcissus flower was, in fact, the cause of his trouble. Apollo Deeproot had spent many years developing a particularly efficacious strain of the Narcissus flower, commonly used in potions to increase self-esteem and one’s sense of worth. Narcissus happened to stumble upon Deeproot’s research field in his wanderings, and was overwhelmed by the potency of the flower, having such a boost to his self-confidence that he was literally unable to look away from what he now believed to be the most beautiful face in the world. The tale of Narcissus lead to the modern practice of greenhouse-based Herbology as it points out the potential for a breech in the Statute of Secrecy should an unsuspecting Muggle become exposed to some of the more potent strains of magical herbs, fungi, and flowers.

After History of Magic, it was time for...

Care of Magical Creatures!

There was a unicorn in the Forbidden Forest that seems to have lost its horn, and our job was to help reattach it. (AKA Pin the Horn on the Unicorn.) Student won tickets based on how close they got the horn to its correct positioning.

Next up was...

Having already learned about the magical properties of the Narcissus flower (AKA daffodils) in History of Magic, we transplanted some for our Herbology lesson. We began by discussing the uses for Narcissus, such as increasing self-confidence before major events such as job interviews or first dates, and the dangers of its overuse. We then began by mixing regular garden-variety dirt with magical expanding gardening fertilizer (aka peat pellets). For those of you who are unfamiliar with peat pellets, when soaked in water they do this:

We then separated the daffodils bulbs by pulling them out of their original containers, prying them apart, and having each student plant their own Narcissus flowers in their magically enchanced dirt. They were always warned to keep pets away from the narcissus bulb, which is toxic to dogs and cats. (Cats already have an over-inflated sense of their own importance and so the boost provide by the Narcisses can cause reckelss behaviour. Dogs, on the other hand, are so naturally self-effacing, humble, and obedient that a huge boost to their ego confuses them and they are no longer sure how to behave.) The kids all got to take home their new plants.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any pictures of what we did after Herbology, which was defeating the troll that brought in to the grounds of Hogwarts! By which I mean, we hung up a troll pinata in the yard and let the kids beat the stuffing out of it with it's own club. ;) They got tickets for successfully hitting it, and once it broke open they got plenty of candy and yet more tickets! They had a blast, and it gave our helpers time to clean up the tables for our next class, which I'll start a new post for.

Up Next: Part Three! Making ectoplasm in Potions class, Charms, Duelling Club, Quidditch, and a cheat boss battle! 

Beginning The Journey; Platform 9 3/4 and Diagon Alley

Before I begin, I'm just going to clarify that the party itself was CRAZY (with 22 kids in the house I'm not sure what else it would be, lol), so some of these pictures were taken either before or afterwards, because many of the ones we took DURING the party just like a whole bunch of kids in a crowd and don't let you actually SEE anything. ;)

When the guests came to the party, they had to enter the magical world through Platform 9 3/4.

After passing through Platform 9 3/4, they headed on up Diagon Alley to purchase their school supplies! Diagon Alley was located in our upstairs bedroom/playroom/school room, and each of the 3 rooms had two shops in it. The first room was...
Ollivander's and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes! Weasley's had wares for sale that the kids could buy at the end of the party; we did lots of activities during the party that let the kids earn tickets, which they could later use to buy stuff on their return trip to Diagon Alley. At the start of the party, however, they had no tickets yet so the focus in this room was on getting their wands! Before they could choose theri wand (or rather, before their wand could choose them), each student was asked a question that would determine what variety of wand they would receive. That question was:

You and your best friend have been taking classes on healing magic. Your best friend is a good healer, but you're the best in the class. One day, a dark wizard attacks the school. He is running around the grounds and attacking anyone he can find. Your best friend is injured and you want to help by healing them, but if you take the time to do this, the dark wizard will likely escape. What do you do?
A- Stop fighting and heal your friend. The dark wizard tries to attack the school all the time, there will be another chance to catch him. (If the student chooses this answer, they receive a Unicorn Hair wand which increases healing by 1.)
B- Chase after the dark wizard and battle him. Your friend is a good healer (even if not quite as good as you); they're more than capable of taking care of themselves. Besides, there's no knowing how many other people could hurt if you let him get away. (If the student chooses this option, they get a dragon heartstring wand, which increases attack power by 1.)
C- Cast a quick protective enchantment over your friend to keep them safe while they figure out how to heal themselves. It is possible that even a short spell like this could give the dark wizard time to get away, but you have to do SOMETHING to help your friend. (If the student choose this option, they receive a Phoenix Feather wand which gives them 1 resist to any incoming attack.)

Here are some of the wands they kids received! We actually ended up making even more wands before the party as the guest list grew a little, and we wanted to make sure we had spare wands left over for any kids who lost/broke theirs.

Next up in Diagon Alley was

Madam Malkin's and Honeydukes! As with Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, Honeydukes had treats available for tickets, but as the students hadn't earnd any tickets yet they couldn't actually buy them yet. However, in this room they each got a robe to wear for their day at Hogwarts (that they got to take home after the party). You'll see the robes on the kids in a few of the pictures in subsequent posts, but if anyone's curious about how we made 20 robes, here's a link to the tutorial we followed.

The final stop on Diagon Alley was....

Flourish & Blotts, along with Eeylop's Owl Emporium! The owls for sale at Eeylops could only be bought with tickets, but the kids could check them out during this first trip to Diagon Alley. At Flourish & Blotts, each student picked up their scrolls so that they could follow along with today's schoolwork. And yes, we actually did magical classes.

Red scroll for Charms, green scroll for Potions, blue scroll for History of Magic!

After getting all their school supplies from Diagon Alley, it was time to head over the Hogwart's Dining Hall, which I'll talk about in the next post.

Up Next: Part Two! The Sorting Ceremony, History of Magic, Care of Magical Creature, Herbology, and a battle with a troll who snuck in to the grounds!