A Flurry of Owls…


“An unexplained flurry of owls have been reported in the area, ”  was reported on the Monday morning announcements.   Later that morning, students headed back to their lockers and discovered an unexpected delivery had been made while they were in class.

When they arrived in class, the following day, Diagon Alley was open for business.

Each student had been given a unique persona from the Harry Potter books and a unique budget that corresponded with that character (e.g., the Weasleys each had a budget of         250 Galleons, while Draco Malfoy had a budget of 1000 Galleons ).     Students had to analyze their budgets and determine which if any optional purchases they could or would make.   The use of individual characters and budget  makes the project a little harder to grade (each solution is unique), but I think it’s worth the effort.   I structure my solution to have two parts – the part common to everyone and the optional part.   So, I only have to work through the common solution once and then just check the optional part as the unique part of the solution for each student.

Students began at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occassions , where they could purchase their school uniform (robes, hat, cloak).    They also had to decide on a pair of protective gloves.   Scarves for the various houses were also available, if they wanted to purchase one and had sufficient funds.  After selecting their purchases, students had to record the purchase price for each item as a mixed number (Sickles are 1/17 of a Galleon) and then convert the mixed number into a decimal.   They found the subtotal (requiring decimal multiplication and addition).   Next they had to determine the tax for the items, after all the Ministry of Magic can’t operate on wishful thinking.   Finally, they calculated their total payment for Madam Malkin’s and adjusted their balance in their Gringotts’ account.



After wrapping up their purchases at Madam Malkin’s, students moved on to Flourish and Blotts to purchase their text books, telescope, cauldron, scales, and phials.   Luckily for them, there was a sale on all text books.   Thus, they had to calculate the discount on the textbooks and the actual sale price.   At this point, I taught students how to calculate a discount with a foldable summarizing the process.   Needing to know how to do something seems like a good time to learn how to do it.


They also had to decide which cauldron option and which set of phials would best serve their needs and their budget.  Once again, they determined a subtotal, the tax, and the final cost of their purchases.   Finally, they recalculated the balance in their account at Gringotts Bank.

Students then moved on to Olivanders to purchase a wand.   Since this was a single item, the calculations for tax, total, and account balance went fairly quickly.


If students had managed their money well, they were free to move on to Eyelop’s Owl Emporium and Quality Quidditch Supplies to purchase a pet and/or a broom.

Students spend about a day and a half in class working on the project and then complete the rest at home.   The total project time allocation is about three to four days.   I use a rubric to grade the final product.  This is a general rubric I have for problem solving tasks.   I will treat the table that they make for the project as their model.




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