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Middle School Math Back to School Lesson: Budgeting with Harry Potter's Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)

Updated on September 19, 2016
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

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My approach to teaching math has been proved time and time again in the other lessons I have shared on Hubpages so far. So when I had to teach the topic of budgeting, I found an awesome interdisciplinary lesson (one that uses more than one subject are, for instance math and english) through my affiliation with National Council of Teacher's of Mathematics. The lesson utilized middle schooler's love for the now famous book and movie series, Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I have to share that I, myself, as an adult have read every book and after reading the whole book series also saw all the movies as well. I was such a fan of the books that I actually had my husband take me (before we had kids of course) to get the last book at midnight the night it was released at our local bookstore (this was before the age of E-books of course).

So, when I came across this lesson plan, I thought first and foremost this is something that I can not only relate to my students because of my love and passion for this series, but because most youngsters happen to love Harry Potter too (whether they have read the books, seen the movies or both).

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Book 1

From the very first pages of the very first installment of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1), I was hooked and so too it would seem the world over. The books are written for teens and young adults, but many adults too fell in love with this book series.

So how does the story begin for Harry in the first book? For 10 years, Harry lived with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and cousin, Dudley after his parents died when he was just a baby by the hands of "He who should not be named" (Voldemort). Harry's only family that he has known growing up thus far loathes and despises him. He was made to live and sleep under the stairs in a small cupboard.

In a blink of an eye this all is about to change, when a mysterious letter is delivered to Harry by the friendly giant, Hagrid. This letter pretty much takes Harry from his Muggle-ridden (if you aren't a wizard, then you are called a muggle) existence and transports him into a magical world surrounded by wizards, a snowy caged owl, a phoenix-feather wand and jellybeans that come in flavors one can only imagine from the good (strawberry) to the bad (sardine). And with all of this comes the revelation that Harry is also a wizard.

In the Wizard world Harry is treated as anything but ordinary for he is quite special, because he is famous for having survived when Voldemort did indeed kill his parents. Although he was left with a scar on his forehead from very early encounter in his life--A Lightening Bolt, which has given him interestingly refined sensibilities so to speak. And thus the adventure, suspense, and humor too begins at Hogwarts (The Famous Wizard School), where Harry begins his formal training to be a wizard.

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What is a budget?

According to Kid.Net.Au, a budget is

  1. a summary of intended expenses along with proposals for how to meet them
  2. a sum of money allocated for a particular purpose

So then, how do we make a budget and stick to it?

The first thing that we must do to make a budget is we must compare income versus expenses. Believe it or not this is a fairly easy thing to do.

Here is the biggest concept to remember:

When your expenses > (are greater than) your income, this is bad.

But when your expenses < (are less than) your income, this is good.

There are 2 simple things to remember when doing a budget:

  1. You can’t spend more than you have.
  2. Money must pay for the budgeted items as soon as possible.

Once we discuss what a budget is, the discussion must turn to the students first formal exposure to budgeting. Some should have had allowances and from this should be familiar with the concept of “saving up,” and still others have had experience grocery shopping with mom or dad and have seen family grocery lists.

Also since this lesson is done early on in the year, I try to get the conversation brought around to back to school and how most kids parents will go shopping for back to school. Let's face it, kids usually are supplied a list with back to school supplies (from school and their teachers), plus they will most likely get a few new pieces of clothing for school too. These supplies and clothes cost money and most parents must budget for them. So when Harry Potter first starts Wizardry School, he too needs supplies and clothing to attend. That is where this budget assignment will begin to take form.

So without further ado the Harry Potter Budget that each kid in the class got handed out to them to work on.

The Actual Budget Lesson

The students were handed two budgeting assignment sheets now. The first assignment sheet (Budget for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) was a detailed list of school supplies for Hogwarts, some of which were required and others were optional. For the second assignment sheet (Budget Cards), each of the students was assigned a fictional name from the roster at Hogwarts School and a different dollar amount for his or her budget. The students then read the assignment sheet in groups and discussed briefly some of the items listed.

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First Assignment Sheet:

Budget for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Name _________________________

Hogwarts Student ______________

Budget ________________________

Item

Room and Board (required): $10,000

Uniform (required):

Three sets of plain work robes (price for set) $1,000

One plain pointed hat $500

One pair of protective gloves (Dragon Hide) $3,000

Or one pair of protective gloves (other) $1,250

One winter cloak, silver fastenings $1,500

Broomsticks (optional)

Nimbus 2000 $24,000

Comet 260 $18,500

Shooting Star $10,000

Wands (required—only one permitted):

Maple and Phoenix feather 7" $3,700

Ebony and Unicorn Hair 8.5" $2,000

Holly and Phoenix feather 11" $4,000

Oak and Owl Feather 10" $500

Willow and Unicorn Hair 10.25" $1,000

Mahogany and Phoenix Feather 11" $2,500

Caldrons (one required, other optional):

Pewter size 2 $340

Gold size 2 $8,000

Books (all required):

The Standard Book of Spells $2,000

A History of Magic $500

Magical Theory $750

A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration $1,500

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi $760

Magical Drafts and Potions $1,000

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them $300

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self Protection $4,000

Other (required):

1 set glass phials $1,000

Or 1 set crystal phials $4,500

1 telescope $7,000

1 set brass scales $250

Pets (optional):

Toad $100

Cat $5,000

Owl $2,500

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Second Assignment Sheet: The Budget Cards

Hogwarts Student Budget Cards (Each Student Gets One Card and Therefore Budgets for that One Character):

Names and Budget:

Ron Weasley $34,250

Lee Jordan $60,400

Oliver Wood $58,850

Angelina Johnson $44,650

Katie Bell $99,670

Fred Weasley $36,100

George Weasley $36,320

Hermione Granger $76,410

Neville Longbottom $38,340

Seamus Finnigan $61,630

Dean Thomas $46,600

Hanna Abbott $82,230

Susan Bones $67,170

Terry Boot $49,560

Mandy Brocklehurst $53,930

Lavender Brown $64,460

Justin Finch-Fletchley $85,850

Morag MacDougal $69,350

Sally-Ann Perks $42,180

Parvati Patil $78,500

Adrian Pucy $100,000

Draco Malfoy $86,300

Marcus Flint $81,160

Terence Higgs $50,000

Millicent Bulstrode $43,420

Crabbe Goyle $54,120

Blaise Zabini $61,250

Pansy Parkinson $97,530

Lisa Turpin $77,560

Alicia Spinnet $47,530

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Assessing Student's Learning and Summing It Up...

To solve the problem, students have to develop strategies for determining what their individual budgets will accommodate. As the dollar amounts varied, discussions should be centered on strategies they could employ to determine which luxuries they could thus afford. They need to recognize that the required items were mandatory and that the optional items would have to be accommodated separately.

Using the literature of Harry Potter fostered a student-centered activity in which students looked to one each other as experts, not the teacher. Students may use a range of strategies. Some students may use the more efficient method of selecting all the required items first and subtotaling, then subtracting this amount from their budget to find the remainder that could be used for optional items. Others still may want to use a trial-and-error method to select items as they go down the list. Yet still others may select the big optional item first, then listed all the required items next.

Although each student will develop a budget for a different character, the students should be happy to help one another and discuss the problem. They should all be engaged and on task, and discussion should not stray from the context of the problem. This activity should be an authentic experience as the students can imagine that they are Harry’s classmates purchasing the same school supplies he too had purchased in preparation for school.

This lesson should be completed in two days. The first day, I would introduce the topic of budgeting and the actual activity. The second day, the students should complete the actual budgets and then discuss how they went about solving their budgets. In this whole-class discussion that follows the activity, the students should be able to make greater connections to budgeting in the real world.

Grading the assignments could be time-consuming, although I must confess my enthusiasm for Harry Potter should make it a bit more enjoyable. I would use a rubric to grade this assignment and make sure to give some credit on this rubric for the students's completion of the actual project, as well as accuracy.

The use of Harry Potter for completing a budget in the end should create an interest in, as well as an enthusiasm for budgeting with large numbers and an authentic context for problem solving for middle school age students.

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About the author:

Janine is a freelance writer and mom of two. She is known for being a certified and licensed professional Math Teacher through NY State and has taught in both the middle and high school levels. You can checkout her profile and more real-life Math articles here.

Are you interested in writing for Hubpages? You can sign up today and publish your first article!

© 2012 Janine Huldie

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    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Same here and as an avid readers for many years, I do completely agree with you on being able to use single book to teach certain units. Thank you for sharing and love hearing from other teachers on this, too!!

    • Same DiNamics profile image

      Dianne Hunt 4 years ago from Maryland

      One of the things I've always loved about books are the many lessons you can teach just from one book. When going to college, I created a two week thematic unit for first graders based on a single book. I was able to teach different content areas just from that one book.

      That's another reason why I love reading.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, thank you so much again as always :) :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thanks Linda and I truly appreciate the share :) :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Now, Dumbledore could use a fantastic teacher like you in the school of Hogwarts, Janine. Coming in again to say that and to share this delightful lesson which I hope will get to other Math teachers out there!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      You know me Janine, numbers and I do not get along, but I did share! ;)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you Joseph for saying that and for sharing this one too :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      These ideas including Harry Potter are a winner! So it needs to be shared! Great math and easy to read!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh thank you Eddy. I have to be honest I would have totally loved this one as a kid, hell I love it as an adult, because of my love of Harry Potter!! Thank you again though and happy you will share with your grandkids :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Again Janine you com up with a gem ;I am now sharing these for my grandchildren and I know they are going to love them too.

      Keep them coming my friend.

      Eddy.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh thank you so much for your lovely comment CrazedNovelist. I have to tell you that I too am a huge Harry Potter fan too and was even watching this movie again last night and probably seen it a 1,000 times. Glad you noticed that I did not include Harry in the budget (part of the reason is because he would be too popular and everyone would want to be him). Thank you and do hope you can share this with your friend's mom too!!

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      OMGosh!! Janine that was awesome! I too am a fan of Harry Potter, but I never thought of actually using the universe to help kids develop a budget. Very awesome idea, truly. I also love that you don't have Harry on the list (I'm sure he's richer than Malfoy lol). Hermione... yeah she probably has that much. (The numbers were fascinating to me lol). I think this is very creative and I'm going to share it with my friend's mom who's a teacher. Thanks for sharing this!!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Glimmer Twin Fan, thank you so much for the compliment. Seriously, I wish I could have taught you or even be your daughter's teacher, because as a teacher one fo the biggest things we want is for our students to want to learn. That said, thank you so very much for your comment and continued support too!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      What an awesome hub! I would have liked math a lot more than I did if I had had a teacher like you and lessons like this. Hopefully my daughter will get things like this to help inspire her!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Joseph, I remember the feeling of not wanting homework assignments all too well, but this one really is a fun one and very much enjoyed teaching it and must say the students also enjoyed learning from it too. Thank you so much for your continued support and your kind compliment here really is so appreciated. I just can't say thank you enough to you!!!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Two hubs for the roice of one. I was hoping not to get weekend assignments. I was a regular kid, with no interest in math until 8th grade. Seriously, you should write a book with all these interesting way of approaching math. Kids keep searching for cool asnwers and they search for us. You are a cool teacher Janine! Don't give up on your dreams and your accomplishments. Your great grandparents are so proud of you. Thanks for helping our kids...and the world!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, thank you commenting and sharing too. Very much agree with you about interdisciplinary approaches to teaching making learning so much more fun and interesting too. I also am a firm believer in using things that kids can relate to in order to help them learn. Thanks again!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Interdisciplinary approaches are what make teaching and learning so interesting, Janine. I level with you as a teacher myself on this one...we should always use what relates to kids in order to help them to connect. I'm sharing this.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Josh, seriously thank you for comments and enthusiasm here. I very much appreciate your kind words and of course your support too!! I do love this lesson, because I truly found it fun to teach, as well as fun to watch the students interact and learn hands on again with this one. That said being a huge Harry Potter fan myself this one is very close to my heart :)

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Janine,

      Now this is totally awesome Janine! You used what is popular to kids these days and applied it to learning about budgets! Simpy remarkable and very creative! You did an amazing job here, and I can tell it took a lot of work and effort! Awesome job Janine! :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Richard, thank you for saying that I spoke my student's language, because seriously when I taught I always tried my best to get into the kids' minds just a bit so to speak. It isn't easy and believe me I was constantly learning and evolving on this, but I still gave it my all. Thanks again :)

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Janine -

      Very imaginative and I believe a highly effective method. Instead of speaking a different language, you utilized the childrens' in order to communicate a very valuable lesson. Great Job!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thanks Julie, your comment makes me feel good about the math teaching profession, because too many times all I heard was "Math is boring" or "When will we ever use this" and very much tried not to teach by the same old tune and that is where so many of my lessons came into play.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      This is awesome. I want to be a math teacher after all these math hubs!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, first off thank you for the compliment here. I am really enjoying writing these lessons up now, because I haven't used them in forever and it is making me feel productive again so to speak. As for the Kindle Book, it is yet another thing on my to do list that is growing longer by the day. Seriously there doesn't seem to be enough time to do it all! My kids are actually napping today instead of hanging on me while I write, but that is neither here nor there. I promise my friend I will be doing the Kindle Book in the near future and still may have some questions for you and Bev. Thanks again for everything from the bottom of my heart!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You really need to do a Kindle book! This is another great lesson plan that the kids would love doing. What a great way to learn and what a great teacher you are, to go the extra mile to find new ways to introduce material to kids. Bravo my young friend!