Friday, March 13, 2015

Hogwart's Birthday Party 2nd year - Aragog's Cobweb Maze

This past November's 2nd annual Hogwart's Party had many more games this year.  After opening ceremonies and the de-gnoming detention, it began to get dark outside.  It was a perfect time to encouraged students to wander around the Forbidden Forest at night, right?  Here are some details of one of the scarier after dark events, Aragog's Cobweb Maze!

The weather forecasted rain for pretty much all of Saturday, so we knew we'd have to do any outdoor activities on Friday (even through the dark of night).  When student came back inside from the degnoming, we drew attention to the line of spiders heading from our main bathroom out through the Great Hall window.

We hinted that following the spiders out to the forbidden forest they might see what was up.  The line of spiders actually started appearing from the bathroom shower drain meandering all the way out through the great hall passed the fireplace to the window.

(Our party being just after Halloween, we found tiny plastic spiders for the floor and the perfect vinyl window clings for the shower wall and mirrors for up to 80% off in the clearance bins around town. Yay!)

With about 25 acres of land out here growing wild, we had the perfect location between a couple of small hills for our Forbidden Forest.  And, there were just enough trees to hang the giant cobweb maze that would outdo our measly porch from years ago.  (The kids had requested this cobweb maze.  I may have mentioned the one I made back in my youth a few times.  We had transformed our closed in porch into a cobweb maze for Halloween where Trick-or-Treaters had to wind their way through the webs under the glow of an eerie green porch light to get to the front door for treats.)  So, I found a few bags of artificial webbing and some plastic/rubber spiders here and there, and we had our maze.  But, this time we used both white and black webs.  The white webs were pretty easy to spot in the dark and kept the students on the path, however closer toward Aragog some black webs were mixed in that are nearly impossible to see..and easy to walk into.  (Hehehe)  The webs also got lower and harder to pass by.

At the end of our maze was Aragog (or, as we say, one of his smaller relative) protecting what the students were supposed to retrieve. We would award house points for retrieving three rare acid green glow-in-the-dark spiders (not pictured) from Aragog's web for Professor Snape as potion ingredients.


For scale, here Aragog is on our Jeep at about 4-5ft across from toe to toe.  That is pretty small for a full grown Acromantula, who is supposed to be the size of a small elephant. But, we had our limits.  This size was creepy enough for the kids. :)

As I've mentioned before, we were on a strict low budget.  This event, including spiders and webs cost us no more than $10 total.  We used mostly stuff we already had.  Aragog is made of masking tape, wire hanger, paper towel tubes, cardboard, plastic bags, newspaper and is wrapped in two rolls of black duct tape.  His eyes were made from plastic bottle caps.  I hot glues tacks into them and just stabbed them into the head.  We had two sizes of paper towel tube and even used the wider tube leftover from one of the duct tape rolls to create the removable joints.  Yes, you read that right.  He comes apart for storage.  Each leg/arm, eyes, his fangs and even his trash bag bum are all removable.  His legs, being all wire wrapped in paper and plastic bags covered in tape, are easily posed, too.  We planned to use him again for the six year when Aragog is supposed to pass on.  Since his legs are bendable, we can put him on his back with the legs all crunched up.  And the fangs may be used in a future challenge.  But, I'm afraid the kids want him to hang around each year...alive.   :(

Also, in the distance near the entrance to the cobweb maze, students could see the lit up headlights of our cardboard flying car stuck in a tree.  The holes in front were for flashlight headlights.  My mom and my daughter helped make the car out of a cardboard box with paper plate tires painted with acrylic paints.  I think I had more fun running around the house with the car over my head.  Vroom...vroom... (Yes, that did happen!)  Due to it's puny size, this tree in our yard has now become known as the "Wimpy Willow".  :(

That's all for this project.  I hope to share some more things soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hogwart's Birthday 2nd Year - Degnoming the Garden Game

One of our first and probably most popular games at this year's 2nd year Hogwart's party back in November was the Gnome Toss loosely based off the mini game in the Chamber of Secrets video game for Playstation 2.  I posted about the creation of these creatures awhile back, but here is the details of the game:

After dinner in the Great Hall, we told the students they would have to immediately serve a detention degnoming the gardens for being late to the start of term.  They would serve their detention with Mrs. Sprout near the Quidditch Pitch (still under construction).  Basically, it was a bean bag hunt and toss game that scored house points.  Students had to find gnomes hiding throughout the grounds (our backyard).  Then, they had to tag them and toss them over the fence off grounds.

Each student had to find one of 8 gnome hidden throughout the back yard.  Since we had about two students in each house, everyone could find a gnome to toss.  One gnome was slightly larger than the rest, and another somehow ended up smaller.  Those that found the Largest and Smallest gnomes received 25 house points.

Once they had a gnome in hand, they had to tag its leg with a house color scrunchy for identificaation. To toss it, they had to hold the gnome with either a leg or arm in each hand.  (Since it was wet and muddy out, we made a last minute decision to bag them to keep them clean while tossing.)

While holding their gnome properly, students had to spin around 3 times and toss it over the fence barrier into a clearing with three different sized colored hoops just outside the Hogwart's grounds. We gave bonus house points for making it in a hoop as follows:

Orange (small, farthest away) = 150 pts
Green (medium, middle) = 100 pts
Pink (Largest, closest) = 50 pts

And the person who threw their gnome the farthest without landing in a hoop also received 10 pts.

The hoops were various sized neon hula-hoops from the dollar store.  To make the game a little easier, the larger green and pink hoops were enlarged to two hoops joined together into one larger hoop.  I simply removed the staples and label that hold them together and poured out the beads inside to avoid a mess.  (Conveniently they tear down for easier storage.)

We had wanted to do the game tournament style, where houses would compete in multiple rounds throwing three gnomes each, but we feared it would be too cold/wet to stay outside that long.  So, we opted for a quicker game where each student only threw one gnome.  If we had time or weather had permitted, we also had a notice board challenge planned to attend Fred and Georges Gnome Tossing Tournament.  Here students would compete individually on various skills.  It will definitely be on the list for next years games.

All in all, it was a lot of fun.  Slytherin and Hufflepuff earned the most house points during the event.

Next, I plan to share a creepy game held just after the De-gnoming.  Stay tuned!...if you want to.  :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hogwart's Birthday 2nd Year - Chamber of Secrets Reopened

We hosted our 2nd year Hogwart's Birthday Party weekend for my daughter this past November.  Since the theme this year was "Chamber of Secrets", which is the daughter's favorite book/movie, most of the new projects were inspired by events that happened in the story.  (But, luckily much of our decorations could be reused from last year, too.)

When our guest arrived around 3pm on Fri, a flying car was stuck in a tree just in view from the driveway.  (Guess some of the students are at it again.)  Once inside, we took their bags and ushered them into the Great Hall to start the festivities.

Over the next few months I hope to share some of our new projects related to the decorations, games and food. You can read the posts on our first year party starting with Part 1 of 4.  I'll start this years party in order of how it went.  Projects will include:
  • De-Gnoming the Garden Gnome Hunt & Toss Game
  • Aragog's Cobweb Maze
  • DADA Lockhart's Pop Quiz & Pixie Challenge
  • Repotting Mandrakes
  • Aunt Petunia's Pudding Cake
It was a LOT of fun...and work!  So, look for more Harry Potter posts to come.