Inspired by The Golden Compass
I didn’t think it was possible, but my six-year old son has found a series that equals his love for J.K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER. We’ve been reading Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, and are on our way to finishing the third, THE AMBER SPYGLASS. Before we complete the series, we thought of devoting a week of activities inspired by the books. Since the first is the most popular, we’re calling this a week “Inspired by The Golden Compass”.
Serafina Pekkala's (Mini) Bow
Serafina Pekkala is a witch queen who helps Lyra through her journey. The witches of Pullman’s series wield bows and arrows, so we decided to create our own bow and arrow. For this we turned to one of our favorite DIY Dads, the Sonic Dads.
Lee Scoresby's Balloons
Lee Scoresby is a very skilled aeronaut. We are NOT. Our attempt at a making a flyable mini hot air balloon was fun, but actual flight was elusive. However, we do not consider this activity a failure. Any attempt at making and experimenting is never a failure. We still learned about the properties of gas (our balloon did fill up) and we reviewed the scientific process.
Northern (Paint With) Light
Pigment is not the only medium for drawing or painting. In this activity we used light! We had a small green lightsaber that was perfect for the job. G mostly used his own motions to generate the paint strokes, although we did utilize a couple of extra techniques for varied effects. We attached our light to a string, and attached the string to a floor lamp to achieve the fourth painting below. For the fifth piece, we attached the light source to a ceiling fan.
This is very simple and very cool. If you have a tripod, a portable light source (e.g. flashlights), a dark place, and a camera that allows you to manipulate shutter speed and set up self-timer, you can easily paint with light. As usual, the Internet has loads of tutorials and ideas for interesting effects when painting with light.
In His Dark Materials, a dæmon is a human’s “soul” or “inner self” that resides outside the body, and takes the form of an animal. In this activity, as in the The Golden Compass, dæmons had to be rescued. The activity itself is a themed scavenger hunt at the zoo. I created a small booklet with animals to rescue (organized by habitat), and printed the corresponding animal stickers on full-sheet shipping labels. Each time G found the animal, he earned a sticker that signified a rescued dæmon.
Children From Another [Part of the] World
In the series we meet people from other worlds. In this activity, we don’t leave the world we know. There is enough diversity in this one. I curated a Pinterest board to show G children from different cultures. This proved incredibly interesting to him. He never realized how different and interesting other children could be.
The Golden Compass Game Spinner
The alethiometer (aka the golden compass) is a clock/compass-like golden device with multiple hands pointing to various symbols. Its sole purpose is to tell the truth. Ours serves a different purpose: to tell us how many steps to take during our turns in any particular game. In other words, our golden compass is a game spinner. G and I play a lot of games, and in the board games that require dice, we substituted the spinner by adding the three numbers where each of the hands landed.