Exclusive Interview: Lisa Beaudry’s “Harry Potter”-Themed Classroom Castle
Imagine having a teacher so passionate about Harry Potter that they bring the books to life, transforming their classroom into a Harry Potter-inspired classroom castle where students learn alongside Harry, feeling like they’ve stepped into one of the books. Teacher Lisa Beaudry does just that.
Beaudry has been teaching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for 13 to 15 years. Some of her early students painted a “beautiful” mural that she uses every year.
As the years rolled along, I began to see all of the possibilities of bringing the magic alive in my classroom[:] home-made chocolate frogs with chocolate frog cards, lemon sherberts, figuring out ground Quidditch [that] is safe for elementary school kids (we use foam pool noodles instead of brooms), and I make and hide Golden Snitches, DIY [S]orting gifts like [H]ouse[-]specific bookmarks, and of course, we make our own wands, and everyone receives a hand-made, wax-sealed acceptance letter.
This year, Beaudry’s fifth graders returned to her sixth-grade class, so they began reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, complete with a huge Aragog on the wall, making clay mandrakes and twinkle jar Cornish pixies.
Beaudry uses the Harry Potter books to “bring the magic of reading” to her students, and as plot events happen, the students experience them too. The immersive experience begins with Sorcerer’s Stone, reading up to Chapter 6 (“The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters”) before stopping for the weekend. Then the two-and-a-half-day transformation begins.
My walls have colored paper on them, and underneath, I have some of the ‘castle’ walls already up. So I begin by taking down all of the outer paper to reveal our castle interior complete with castle windows and knights in armor. Once this work is complete, I begin adding all of the hanging candles, [the H]ouse banners, and the many, many Harry Potter items like my wand collection, various stuffed animals, [and] crystal cups for [H]ouse points.
The reaction Beaudry gets from her students is “absolutely priceless! They are literally spellbound.”
Students create their own custom wands and are Sorted into their Hogwarts Houses, with House points being awarded to encourage them to “behave kindly and respectfully and to complete assignments with their personal best effort.”
“A Day at Hogwarts” takes place each year, pausing usual Muggle studies and heading to Hogwarts.
In the Potions class, each student mixes magical powders and liquids in personal cauldrons, Transfiguration [c]lass features some burning items outside, and in Divination [c]lass, Professor Trelawney leads the group in reading tea leaves, and at the end of the novel, we have a [H]ouse [C]up winner, and two of my teacher friends help me to throw a Harry Potter high tea complete with tea, scones, pasties, clotted cream, jam, [Harry Potter] games and activities, [and a Harry Potter] photo booth.
Beaudry uses elements from the Potter books to aid her students’ Muggle studies, from learning the fictional story map and overlaying Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey to using “Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans to teach how to use a dichotomous key in science.”
When distance learning began due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Beaudry’s usual indoor classroom couldn’t be utilized, she created an outdoor castle backdrop.
We couldn’t have the hat actually touch each student, so we rigged a pulley system to lower the Sorting Hat over each person’s head for the ceremony. […] Parents drove their kids to the school several times: first for acceptance letters and second for the Sorting Ceremony complete with [H]ouse[-]specific gift bags and finally to pick up end-of-the-novel gift boxes with the House Cup winners earning extra special boxes!
Beaudry is retiring soon and has ensured the magic will continue, giving her Harry Potter items to two friends who teach at her school and share her “love and geekiness of all things Potter.”
We are in awe of the incredible experience Beaudry creates for her students. The best part for Beaudry is that she can “help to create lifelong readers,” with many of her former students attributing their love of reading to her Harry Potter classroom experience.
The spellbinding world created within the Harry Potter books resonates with us all, and Beaudry’s passion and commitment to helping the books continue to be read and loved is truly magical.