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Day 8 - Potions (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)


I have always been fascinated with witches and wizards, so the prospect of creating potions was extremely appealing. We hope you enjoy the ideas - we have had a lot of fun doing them!



  • Shakespeare

  • Poetry

  • Rhyme

  • Syllables

Macbeth has to be my favourite Shakespeare play, so I couldn't miss the opportunity to explore the Song of the Witches with the boys. I have seen Lucy Aldridge, a fabulous Y5 teacher at Warren Road Primary, bring this poem to life as a piece of performance poetry with her class and I thought it would be a fantastic stimulus to teach rhyme.

Here is the original poem, which I read to the boys. You can also see some super film clips on YouTube but do screen them first as some are a little adult in content!

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble” (from Macbeth)

by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon's blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

What we did:

  • To generate ideas, we made a list of things we could throw into a potion - the more gruesome the better! We also tried to make links to the Harry Potter books where possible (e.g. Potter's scar / Malfoy's sneer / etc.)

  • With a list of ideas at our fingertips, we looked at the syllable pattern in the poem. Most lines have 7 syllables per line - so this was our challenge.

  • We then chose our first ingredient - a troll's bogey. I blame Pie Corbett for this as we had tuned into his show this morning which was all about trolls!

  • Once we had the ingredient, we then thought what word would be best to rhyme. This is the fun part and the kids loved playing around with the rhyming pairs. To help, we used

By no means does this do Shakespeare credit, but here is our attempt (and recorded performance), called Song of the Wizards.

Song of Wizards

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Bogey of a smelly troll,

Pick it, flick it in the bowl;

Skin of snake and slime of snail,

Scratch them with a hooked toenail;

Lizard's tongues and spider's eyes,

Cooked in Granny's cabbage pies;

Snape's sneer, Dementor's breath,

Boil them with a pinch of death;

Potter's scar and slug's skin,

Elephant dung and fly's wing;

Sting of wasp and dragon's claw,

Monkey brains and brown bear claw;

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

by Joshua, Archie and Daddy, 2020

Listen to our performance here:

Maths (+ bit of science)

  • weights and measures

  • volume/capacity (l/ml)

Potion Pong

Today's maths lesson was all to do with measures (plus having lots and lots of fun!)

Before we started, we discussed how to convert between litres and millilitres. We created a learning poster to help us with the simple process and needed to revisit how to multiply and divide by 1000. Remember, all the digits move, not the decimal point!

x 1000 = all digits move 3 places to left

/ 1000 = all digits move 3 places to right

We then looked at different measuring vessels and used some prediction skills to estimate how much they would hold. This was very revealing as their concept of how large 1 litre is was highly entertaining.

The boys looked at reading scales and discussed how to read a meniscus accurately. We checked our measures on a scale (and found out 100ml = 100g!)

Then it was time to create the 'potion'. Thanks to a little food colouring, this was easily done and captured their interest. We learnt how to accurately use a pipette to measure small measures. The boys liked naming the potions and decided the green one was made of troll snot - delightful!

With the key learning complete, it was time for fun...a little potion pong! The loser would have to drink a potion of the winners' choice...

Guess who lost...


If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please do follow us. Alternatively, you may like to follow me on Twitter: @JamieWTSA.

My thanks to Pie Corbett and Talk for Writing for inspiring many of the ideas explored.

Do tune in tomorrow where the stimulus is my wife, Laura's choice... the beach!


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