Thanks to everyone who entered our contest over the last four weeks. What a whirlwind! Last week’s winner is Trishden (and while I’m always team Weasley I can understand that there’s just something about Severus…)
A couple weeks ago, EA invited me to get a sneak peek at the new video game for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. As I sat down to the demo, I had to admit that I haven’t played one of the EA Harry Potter games since Prisoner of Azkaban, which, at the time I played it, left me a little cold.
It looks like they’ve learned a few things since then. For one thing, Deathly Hallows Part 2, as you know, is full of battles. Serious, epic battles. For the latest game, they focused of fluid key combat. This new spell-casting system is one of the biggest changes from the previous games. There are button assignments for spells that stay the same throughout the game, so as you progress you can really get familiar with using the different spells, particularly the high-utility ones. In many cases, you have to use spell combos. For instance, you might have to strike down an enemy’s Protego spell before you can fire off something stronger.
You can also play as eight different characters as you try to save Hogwarts and defeat Voldemort: there’s Harry, Ron, and Hermione, of course, but you can also play as Ginny, Seamus, Neville, Professor McGonagall, and Molly Weasley. (And don’t we all want to be Molly Weasley in one pivotal moment?) This is perhaps what I’m most excited about. The books are done, the movies are done, but playing as these different characters offers some comfort and satisfaction for the bleak Harry-Potter-less future.
It seems EA has also learned from what is often the downfall of games based on movies – the overuse of cut scenes. Instead of passively watching the major plot points unfold, they’ve thought about ways to bring you into the action. They showed me the gameplay surrounding the bridge outside Hogwarts, and having now seen the movie I understand just how cool this scene is. Instead of just watching it unfold, you play as Seamus and Neville protecting Hogwarts. It’s like video game fan fiction.
The game looks terrific, as you’d expect. In fact, you may see (or have seen) a trailer for the game before the movie, which gives you a good sense of the visuals. I found the controls difficult in what little of the game I tried, but that’s likely because it’s been ages since I’ve picked up an X-Box controller. EA has just sent me copies of the game on Wii and Nintendo DS, and I’ll give a full review after I’ve had a chance to play through. We’ll see how it stacks up to my love for Lego Harry Potter.
I’ve been looking forward to Clue: World Of Harry Potter since Toy Fair. Usually I hate when a brand takes over a classic, but I’m willing to make an exception for dear Harry Potter. Plus, here’s a case where the brand is an excellent fit and actually brings something to the game you grew up with.
This isn’t just a simple case of trading in Colonel Mustard for Lucius Malfoy and the Billiard Room for the Forbidden Forest. In the beginning you choose one of the Hogwarts students to go missing from the set of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Ginny, and Neville. Then each player becomes one of the remaining students. As with regular clue, you go from location to location and make guesses about who did it, with what, and where, and your opponents show you cards to help you narrow down whodunnit.
Where the extra Harry Potter magic comes in is with the board. For starters, you can use points to travel by Floo Network from location to location, but the Floo Network isn’t always available. At the start of each turn, you roll two dice. One of the dies tells you which of the four wheels under the board to spin. This opens and closes doors and Floo Networks to the various locations, and if you’re quite unlucky, it can make the Dark Mark appear.
While I think the business of the Dark Mark complicated the game (you mostly lose Floo Points unless you’ve secured a helper card that works against the Dark Mark card), the ever-changing board makes it worthwhile.
Depending on what kind of Harry Potter fan you are, you might miss the heroes. Once you choose what player you want to be, that student is just represented by a color. See? Here’s Hermione:
There’s no Dumbledore and no Hogwarts teachers (not even Snape). So, only you’re left thinking about the villains, and what charmed object or curse they used in their crime.
If you like Clue and you’re a fan of Harry Potter, though, you’re bound to like this version.
There are countless reasons to visit London but for many fans of Harry Potter, getting to see some of the real life locations from the films has to up near the top. A quick Google search will provide you with countless options for everything from self-guided walking tours to week long vacations taking in all the Potter goodness you could possibly wish for, but a good number of visitors to London are here on business without the time for such extended tours. If you only have an hour spare in your trip, what’s worth seeing and what is convenient? Here then is the guide to Harry Potter filming locations for those people who are in a hurry and just want to squeeze a bit of Potter magic into a hectic business trip.
1. Kings Cross Station/Platform 9 and Three Quarters
Kings Cross St. Pancras (Victoria, Piccadilly, Northern, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines)
Is it worth visiting? This is the location that gives you the most Potter for your time with three distinct Potter locations within minutes of one another and all right at the station, meaning there’s little chance of getting lost in London’s winding back streets. If you only have time for one Potter experience, this is where you should head. It is worth noting that the current location of the entrance to Platform Nine & Three Quarters is outside and the brick wall into which the trolley appears to be vanishing is actually a shiny plastic photograph of a brick wall and very fake when close up, not the genuine brick wall inside the building which was used previously. This may be because of the major renovations currently happening at Kings Cross in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games and so the platform entrance may eventually be moved back to a real wall.
What is the location like?
For the unseasoned London traveller, it is very important to know that Kings Cross actually comprises two different stations which are set across the road from one another, Kings Cross and Kings Cross St Pancras International. Past visitors may recall a third Kings Cross station – Thameslink which has now closed with services to that station now re-routed to St Pancras. Make sure you are aware which station you will be arriving at, Kings Cross is one of the largest hubs in London and is nearly always very busy, even late at night. You will need to cross a road to see both areas but a pedestrian crossing is located close by and the area is usually so busy that the traffic is often stationary for long periods anyway.
What will I see?
Kings Cross itself is home to Platform 4, where the bridge scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone were filmed, however the bridge that Harry & Hagrid walked across has been demolished. Scenes from Chamber of Secrets were also filmed on Platform 4. You cannot access the platform itself without a valid ticket however it is easy to see the distinctive arched roof from the station concourse. Outside the station (follow the signs for lost property) you will find the false brick wall that marks the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4 – if you get lost, look for the crowd of people queuing up for a photograph, it was a constant presence during my time waiting for a friend there.
Finally, to your immediate left as you look at Platform 9 and 3/4, you will see the distinctive architecture of Kings Cross St Pancras, where the exterior shots from Chamber of Secrets with the flying Ford Anglia were located. Crossing the road and heading up the stairs immediately in front of you will take you away from the traffic and into the courtyard of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel which will allow you to really see the location and the beauty of the building. This is also where several publicity shots for Deathly Hallows Part Two were taken last week.
2. Grimmauld Place
Holborn (Piccadilly & Central Lines)
Is it worth visiting?
This is rather debatable as the true location for Grimmauld Place is still up for some debate, meaning there’s a good chance that what you’ll see has nothing to do with Harry Potter except baring a bit of a resemblance to the film set. However when we went along to the most touted location for Grimmauld Place, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, there was no mistaking that the houses here are an uncanny match to those at in the films.
What is the location like?
We used Holborn underground station and followed the signs to Lincoln’s Inn Fields from the station exit, they were clearly signposted. This is not scenic, picturesque London by any stretch of the imagination but if you want to see something closer to the “real” London, this is a good stop. The location was around five minutes walk and unmistakeable upon arrival. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is believed to have been the inspiration for New York’s Central Park as all the houses face out onto a scenic open square, accurate to the film. If you’re on a lunch break and want to mix your Potter sightseeing with a nice spot to get lunch, this is the place.
What will I see?
All the houses facing the square have elements of Grimmauld Place to them, walking along the roads we would spot a familiar railing at one house and the next would have the correct window surrounding. Take a stroll around the square and you can probably amalgamate the appearance of Number 12 by piecing together the different bits from each different front. Naturally you wouldn’t actually be able to spot Number 12 anyway, unless you have been there before.
Is it worth visiting? This is where Harry, Ron & Hermione apparate to when they escape from the wedding in Deathly Hallows Part One. There is little here to actually mark the location as being a Potter location but you will certainly see some of the same sights around you from those scenes.
What is the location like? Busy! This is the heart of tourist London, expect huge crowds from dawn ’til dusk. The underground station has numerous exits that bring you out on various sides of a huge road junction with multiple streets converging. It is difficult to truly see much of the area because of the crowds and tricky to get your bearings. Unless you really want to see everything or are interested in the tourist attractions, theatres and restaurants here, this may be one to avoid.
What will I see? This stop is more about atmosphere, especially if you’re visiting at night, perhaps before a show in one of the countless theatres located nearby. The crowded pavements, roads filled with bright red London buses and neon signs of the theatres and restaurants give you the feel of being in the scene along with the characters which is a feeling you may struggle to attain at other locations. One of biggest tourist attractions here is Ripley’s Believe It Or Not which can be seen very briefly in the film as can the famous Piccadilly video screen wall.
4. The Ministry of Magic
Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo Lines) or Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle and District Lines)
Is it worth visiting? This is one of few locations that are almost identical in reality to the way they appear on screen. It is a significant walk (perhaps 10 minutes) from Charing Cross, where we approached from however you will get to see Trafalgar Square on your walk, combining the location with some more traditional London tourism. This one is certainly worth it if you have the time but there are certainly more scenic places to see.
What is the location like? The Ministry of Magic is aptly located, close to many real governmental buildings including the Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Office and Downing Street – home of the Prime Minister. Coming from Charing Cross, you will pass by Trafalgar Square and you are close to other famous London landmarks such as The Mall. The surrounding areas aren’t much to look at, this is a government area with little to attract non workers so expect grey monotony. You are also right by the original home of the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard.
What will I see? Scotland Place is where the trio staked out the main entrance to Ministry in Deathly Hallows Part One and also where we see Harry & Mr Weasley enter the Ministry in Order of The Phoenix. The phone box Harry & Arthur used to enter the Ministry was a prop and does not really exist, however apart from this nothing was changed for the film so this is one of few places where you can stand in the exact locations seen in the films. Nearby is Trafalgar Square where the premiere of Deathly Hallows Part Two took place last week.
5. Other locations
London is a big city and, partly due to several large protests that were converging on Parliament the afternoon of our trip, we didn’t have the time (or consider it entirely safe) to visit every filming site. The Millennium Bridge which is destroyed in the opening scenes of Half Blood Prince can be seen from many points along the River Thames as can several other bridges and the Houses of Parliament where we see Harry & members of the Order flying in Order of The Phoenix and Lambeth Bridge where the Knight Bus squeezed between two London buses. Australia House (interior of Gringott’s Bank) is close to the Ministry of Magic location and can be accessed best from Temple underground station; Leadenhall Market (Monument underground) is the location for Diagon Alley and a flower shop in Borough Market (London Bridge underground) marks where the Knight Bus pulled up to deposit Harry at the Leaky Cauldron. Finally, if you do find yourself with a little extra time, you could always visit the reptile house at London Zoo and see if you can talk to any of the residents there or take the 17 minute train ride from Waterloo to Surbiton Station where Harry flirted with a waitress in the platform cafe at the beginning of Half Blood Prince.
Because any good project is only as good as our printer. For reference, we had an HP all-in-one before Kodak sent the ESP C310 my way. And we were generally happy with it. At least, marginally so. I mean, printers are only as good as the ink you use, right? And the last time we went and bought ink (right before a hurried convention appearance where I was supposed to be printing out little cards for promotion) we just about broke bank. Not to mention that the printer was notoriously finicky with my MacBook Pro.
Well, I’m happy to report that there were no such problems with the Kodak All-in-One ESP C310. Setup was a snap, and after a restart and a short calibration period, we were connected to the printer via wireless network. Wireless printing is one of those things I marvel at, still. Geek that I am I can’t help but feel like printing without a cord in the middle is just a little magic.
Add to that that the price of ink for the ESP C310 is significantly lower than our previous printer, and that the print quality is great… well, I’m a happy camper, let’s just say.
However, I am biased. Sure, there are all sorts of camps when it comes to the Harry Potter oeuvre. But personally there is no home like the Burrow, and no hero like Ron Weasley. Okay so he’s a little tempestuous at times. And the whole fight between Ron and Harry really dragged out in Book Four, to the point where I wanted to knock both their skulls together. But when it comes down to it, Weasley really is my king. He’s the most likely character to make me laugh, cry, and giggle. Yes, admittedly I have a thing for ginger guys. But that’s hardly the point!
While there were a few odd bugs with the Macintosh version — switching between windows caused the program to blank out until I clicked on “Home” and it does not fill the whole screen — the tweenager in me was still quite thrilled to print a project featuring my most favorite wizard. And if I were so inclined I could also emblazon his face upon banners, doorhangers, and calendars, all as easily as if I had a wand of my own.
Some time ago, I suddenly realised what would be my dream job: I’d like to be Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. After Voldemort’s fall, if possible. Or before his rise. I intend to keep the charge more than one year.
Alas, it seems that few schools (if any) are looking for such a teacher, so I’m afraid I’ll have to content myself with my current job of literature teacher.
Another, more attainable dream, would be to edit a collection of Teaching with Harry Potter schoolbooks in France.
The world created by J.K. Rowling can be used to teach almost every subject to almost any age. British and American websites already offer many resources for various ages and subjects.
You may check online educational resources for teachers (and homeschooling parents) on Fabulous Classroom, Midge Frazel’s Page and Web English Teacher, among many others.
English / Literature / Creative writing
That’s the more obvious.
As the books grow longer and more complex, you can propose them to growing children, and use them to study any aspect of narratives, descriptions, argumentation, and so on. You can also study genres (b.e. how the first chapters of the books, in the Dursley’s world, enhance the magic of the other parts ion a very Todoroviandefinition of fantastic.)
You can imagine a trial and ask the children to play prosecution and defense: Sirius Black’s trial while reading The Prisoner of Azkaban, Draco Malfoy’s at the end of The Deathly Hallows…
You can study JKR’s criticism of our actual world (the newspapers, the government interfering in the educational system, and so on).
Even if I’m essentially a Gryffindor personality, I once wrote (for fun) an essay about House Slytherin’s positive qualities and achievements. It’s in French, but I can translate it if someone’s interested.
And of course, you can make your kids write fiction.
I really think fan fiction is an excellent writing exercise. It’s perfect to help our young writers-to-be to understand that writing cannot be conceived without reading.
And that’s not by chance that Harry Potter is one of the largest source of fan fiction. The books offer all the range of fan fiction possibilities : inventing a past, developing events or characters from JKR’s hints, pairing almost anyone with anyone, deepening characters’ emotions, or even creating the Wizarding World outside Britain from its very rare appearances in the books.
You probably all know that the first two books were translated into Latin under the titles Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis and Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum.
There’s even an Ancient Greek edition of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone.
If your kids aren’t advanced enough to read these, you can begin with working on the spell names and their Latin origins.
You can find on TES Connect a game exploring the Latin roots of the magic spells in the Harry Potter books. Pupils have to find the Latin words from which the spells were created, and use the meanings of these words to work out what each spell would do.
If you’re brave enough, you can design your own activities from the list of Harry Potter‘s spells.
Of course, you can also teach mythology using Harry Potter‘s bestiary, but everyone knows about that, don’t they?
If you aren’t a mythology geek, you can learn more about these references by reading David Colbert’s The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter.
I haven’t read The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield, and the book received contrasted reviews, for some readers found it too complex for the average student and regretted that Harry Potter‘s references seem to be a mere pretext. Anyway, I’m sure every science geek among you could make good use of it.
Otherwise, the easiest ways to associate scientific lessons with the Potterverse are Astronomy and Potions. I dream of a Potions version of Chemistry Kits for kids!
One of the great things with math is that you can design exercises and problems from every universe!
Have a look at the (very easy) questions on Math Stories to help you write your own activities. Use the Hogwarts Express and the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia to work on speed and distances. Use the wizarding word currencies and their change values (One Galleon is equal to 17 Sickles or 493 Knuts). Work on Quidditch balls and brooms’ trajectories with older kids. And so on.
Of course, Harry Potter‘s history is an alternate one.
But to successfully conceive any alternate history, you have to do research on the actual one.
You may try, by example, to write Harry’s essay in The Prisoner of Azkaban: “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless — discuss”. Your kids would have to read about many historical questions about witch-burning in the Middle Ages, Inquisition, and so on. Why not Jules Michelet’s founding essay La Sorciere: The Witch of the Middle Ages? Why not Umberto Eco’s wonderful novel The Name of the Rose? I see there’s even a book about Teaching Medieval Studies Through Umberto Eco’s the Name of the Rose. That sounds wonderful!
You can use the timeline provided by the Harry Potter Lexicon to conceive researches and activities on various historical periods, from Ancient Egypt to World War II. I always wondered if the actual situation of the Ministry of Magic (underground) was a consequence of the Blitz.
As you see, that could be an endless list!
Feel free to share your own ideas and activities, or to ask me for a detailed activity in literature.
If you find yourself in the middle of Times Square with a fellow GeekMom, what should you do? Why, you should apparate yourself right over to Discovery Times Square to see Harry Potter: The Exhibition of course. Last week that’s exactly what GeekMom Corrina and I did.
We dug deep into our respective vaults at Gringotts to pony up the $26 admission fee, but didn’t dig deeper to tack on an additional $7 for the audio tour. We figured that between the two of us, there was enough Harry Potter knowledge to keep us entertained in the exhibit, and we were right.
As you enter the exhibit, a Hogwarts student holds the Sorting Hat above a few lucky children in the room. As each kid sat in a stool, the Hogwarts student (with the phony accent) held the sorting hat high enough not to make contact with any little head. Then a voice over the loudspeaker spoke as the Sorting Hat. I was hoping one of the kids would get sorted into Slytherin, but no such luck.
From there, you’re launched into the exhibit where you can take your time looking at all of the different props and costumes. Some are in environments, like Hagrid’s Hut and Gryffindor Tower. Other are spread out in display cases. The costumes are amazing, and it was fun to see the relative size of the actors and how they grew throughout the films.
Some of the props are really interesting to see, like the detailed TriWizard Cup and the wardrobe and giant jack-in-the-box from Lupin’s Boggart lesson when he was teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. There’s also Dobby and Kreacher poking out from behind the costumes. Nothing, though, was better than seeing each character’s wand. They were all so different from each other, celebrating the personality of that wizard. You can truly appreciate the prop-masters on the films when you see the wands.
The exhibit is far from cheap, and the Discovery museum has found many different ways to separate you from your money. ($45 for a picture set of you in front of Hogwarts. Really?! They almost got me, though, with the reproduction wands and a replica of Hermione’s time turner.) With that in mind, I’d say that there are two groups of people that would find the admission price totally worthwhile: Harry Potter fans, and fans of movie-making. HP Geeks will find plenty to drool over, and anyone with even a passing interest in costumes and production design will be wowed. For everyone else, there are better ways to spend your money in NYC.
Wow, it’s hard to believe that we’re already in week four of our Kodak and GeekMom giveaway! We’ve been busy putting our own printers to work (which were given to the four editors, Jenny, Kathy, Corinna, and myself) provided by Kodak (you can learn about my favorite Harry Potter character later this week and the inspiration behind my Kodak Design Gallery creations!). But on top of that they’ve been helping us give away one printer a week to a lucky commenter! Last week’s winner, chosen by random number generator, was Peter! Congratulations, Peter!
Just to recap, here’s a little more about the giveaway:
Kodak sent samples of their printers and software to GeekMom editors Jenny, Natania, Kathy and myself so we could try them out, and they’re fantastic! With the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD , you can print your own Harry Potter posters, party decorations, notecards, and more! And the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer is easy to install and easy to use, even on a home network. On Wednesday, I’ll be talking about some projects that I made using the software, including some cool posters.
And if you want to enter to win your very own Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer and Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2, you’ve got three more chances to win.
For this week’s giveaway, go to the end of this post and leave us a comment describing your favorite character/crush in the movies and books.
Submit your comment by midnight Friday night, July 15th6 pm Eastern time Sunday night, July 17, and we’ll choose one winner at random from all the entries received.
Don’t forget, you’re invited to share your Harry Potter-related photos and images with us by adding them to the GeekMom Flickr group! We’d love to see them.
And please visit our sponsor Kodak.com for more Harry Potter goodness over the coming weeks. Thanks to Kodak for joining GeekMom in our Harry Potter celebration!
I’m not very good at sewing, so I tried to gather all the pieces I would need. The pleated skirt was from an anime costume that I already had. I bought a white blouse and a clip-in tie that was close to the Gryffindor colors. I added a gray sweater and black knee socks that I had in my closet. Black mary jane shoes was the last part that I had to buy.
The hardest part of the costume was the robe. I had my black college graduation robe in my closet, and I decided to alter it for my purposes. I removed the zipper, and then hemmed the part where the zipper had been. I got a Gryffindor patch off of eBay and sewed that on to the robe.
The robe was fairly easy to make, and the rest just had to be gathered. For this reason, making your own homemade costume from the Harry Potter universe is pretty easy.
I should note that I did wear this costume to Dragon*Con that year, and it was not a good idea because I roasted the whole time I was wearing it. September in Georgia is not a good time to wear a costume with so many layers.
The Kodak Design Gallery Software lets you make your own fun Harry Potter printables using over 300 images and graphic elements. You can use it to make invitations, banners, collector cards, door hangers, posters, and lots more cool printable projects using images from the movies. It also includes a collection of Harry Potter crests, borders, patterns, icons, swatches, and phrases. Using the unique customization tools, you can add your own photos, type in your own text, draw, color, rotate and scale the images to create your own personalized designs. Or select a pre-designed template, add any special touches you want, and just print!
The Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer that will be included with all four giveaways is a wireless printer with an easy Wi-Fi setup. And it’s affordable — it’s priced at $99, and it uses KODAK 30 Series Ink Cartridges with the lowest ink replacement cost in the industry. Like all KODAK All-in-One Printers, the C310 Printer delivers crisp, sharp text documents, brilliant graphics, and KODAK Lab-Quality Photos that dry instantly and last a lifetime.
On Wednesday we’ll be sharing some of the designs made by GeekMom Jenny Williams and her family using the Kodak Design Gallery Software and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer. In the meantime, enter to win a Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and a Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer of your very own by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post, telling us your plans for the culmination of the great Harry Potter movie series next month! You have until midnight Friday night to enter this week’s drawing. And we’ll have a drawing each week, so you have four chances to win!
We’d also love to see your Harry Potter-related photos and images, so put a link to them in your comment, or just add them to the GeekMom Flickr group! We’ll feature the best in future posts.
And be sure to visit Kodak.com for more Harry Potter goodness over the coming weeks. Thanks to Kodak for inviting GeekMom readers to be a part of their celebration!
(UPDATE: We’ll be giving away four Kodak packages, each with the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer!)
He’s the embodiment of The Boy Who Lived, and for that alone Daniel Radcliffe is a geek we love. On this episode of Graham Norton, though, Daniel Radcliffe shows just how geeky he is when he cites Tom Lehrer as a personal hero, and proceeds to sing “The Elements.”