Badge: Explore Ebooks


Publishing is moving to the electronic age. More and more books are available electronically. Not only does this save you money, it is more convenient as long as you are comfortable with your electronic devices. Your first step into the world of ebooks is to explore what is out there.





1. Benefits of ebooks.
Are ebooks for you? Brainstorm advantages of ebooks over regular books. Here’s a list to start.

  • Many free ebooks available
  • Purchased ebooks are cheaper than printed books
  • Read on computer or other electronic devices
  • Easily carry them with you

2. Disadvantages of ebooks.
Brainstorm disadvantages of ebooks. Here’s a list to start.

  • No power equals no books
  • Electronics more easily damaged
  • May be hardware / software dependent
  • Eyestrain

Compare the advantages and disadvantages. Are you leaning toward ebooks?

3. Ebook readers.
Proprietary readers are designed to read ebooks in a format they determine. Some can read other formats as well. Review the following list. How many have you heard of? Compare them and determine if a proprietary reader is for you.

  • Kindle / Amazon
  • Nook / Barnes & Noble
  • iPad / Apple

4. Smart phones.
Smart phones have software that allows you to read ebooks. Examine ebook readers available for your smart phone. Choose one and install an ebook reader on your smart phone. Try free ebooks to see if you like the portability of ebooks. Here are a few applications to start your search.

  • Kobo
  • GoodReader
  • eBook Search
  • Stanza

5. Reading ebooks.
Try downloading an ebook on your computer, smart phone or ebook reader. Review your advantages and disadvantages. Which are more important to you after trying an ebook?


Places to find free ebooks

6. Project Gutenburg.
Choose from over 42,000 free ebooks. These are digitized by volunteers. They are available because the copyright has expired in the US. Also, check out the additional 100,000 available through their Partners, Affiliates and Resources links. These include links to similar projects in other countries such as Australia and Canada.

7. Manybooks.
Choose from over 29,000 free ebooks.

8. Free ebooks.
Site features ebooks writers pay to publish and you get them free.

9. Get free ebooks.
Sign up to get notifications of free ebooks. This site is a nominee for best Web site for free ebooks. NOTE: Some of the links are to ebooks that are free for a limited time. If you are interested in one, be sure to download it in a timely manner.

10. Google book search.
Google book search links to many ebooks. Only those in public domain are available for free downloads. Check out the future of Google books to see about the settlement and where they plan to go in the future.

11. How to search for free ebooks.
Read the article for help finding additional free ebook resources. Explore some of the links and bookmark any that you would like to return to in the future.

12. Keep exploring.
There are many ebook sites available. The above list is only a small sampling. Use the links below or go to your favorite search engine to search for more. Enjoy your adventure through the world of ebooks.


Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_X Ebooks


Harry Potter #8

I was having a long discussion with my friend, Moriah, about the first seven Harry Potter badges. The first seven were designed to have parts used during a day camp event.

Moriah was looking at it from a costumer’s viewpoint. She is an excellent seamstress who makes outfits and accessories for AMTGARD events. For day camps, costumes can be too much. So, we got into a discussion of what kind of Harry Potter event would be good for costumes. We came up with Christmas.

So, now we have an eighth badge for the set, to be done during the winter holidays. It’s cool enough for costumes and great for groups that are having problems meeting during the school year because of conflicting activities.

And, even better, I have a volunteer when I run a Harry Potter event.

Badge: Harry Potter – Christmas at Hogwarts

Badge: Harry Potter - Christmas

The other Harry Potter badges have steps to provide you with material for day camp, afternoon camps and other non-holiday activities. Some of those activities can be adjusted slightly and used with a Christmas theme. This badge program focuses on the happenings in the Harry Potter world during Christmas.




Event possibilities

1. Event featuring food.
A feast can take an entire day to prepare. From deciding what to serve to preparation to enjoying the final product, an entire event can be held around learning about English food and those dishes specifically mentioned in the Harry Potter saga. Typically, large meals are prepared and enjoyed around festive occasions, such as Christmas. See the Enrichment Project supplement Harry Potter_Feast Recipes.pdf for food ideas for this event.

2. Yule ball event.
While this was mentioned in a previously released badge program, create an event around the ball only. Start with teaching your kids various dances, tips for “dressing up” including applying make-up, making decorations and more activities that can go into preparing for a dance. Then hold your ball.

3. A very Weasley Christmas.
Picture Christmas at the Burrows. From knitting scarves and hats to homemade treats, you can bring a family Christmas to your troop, group or even do this as a service project, donating the items you make to a homeless shelter or other needy organization.

4. Hogwart’s Christmas.
Most years, there are more staff than students that stay at Hogwart’s for the holidays. Try a toned-down theme featuring decorating a Christmas tree with homemade ornaments and readings from “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”. See the EP supplement Harry Potter_Ornaments.pdf for ornament ideas. What other ideas can you come up with?

5. Host a party for others.
Create a Hogwart’s Christmas for others — younger troops, children at a homeless shelter, etc. Incorporate ideas from the event ideas above or from the specific activities below.


Specific activities

6. Quick list from events.
Below is a quick list of possible activities mentioned in the Christmas ideas above. Feel free to mix and match these into your own unique Christmas celebration.

  • Create a Christmas feast
  • Share a Christmas feast
  • Enjoy a Christmas feast
  • Dancing
  • Proper attire for a ball
  • Making decorations
  • Knit hats and scarves
  • Make homemade gift treats
  • Decorate a Christmas tree
  • Make Hogwart’s inspired ornaments
  • Listen to stories from “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”

7. Donate a tree.
Instead of putting up and decorating a tree, place the tree in a public location. Create your own ornaments or ask others to help decorate the tree. Exchange ornaments on the tree for gifts for needy families. Brainstorm your own exchange program, places that would appreciate a specially decorated tree, etc.

8. Sleigh rides.
Sleigh rides are a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer as the bells ring across the snow. You can do them for your own group or share them with the public and request they share the Christmas spirit as you have with them.

9. Magical bonfire.
Taken from the “Harry Potter: Science” badge program (Step 8), gather your ingredients to make your fire magical. Instead of being in a small fireplace, create a bonfire outside to enjoy readings or songs.

10. Hogwart’s carols.
From dressing in white as caroling ghosts to enjoying traditional caroling, Christmas is the most musical of the holidays. Be sure to practice with your group before starting out and perhaps even provide a small songbook with the lyrics for use during the event as well as a memento for participants to keep.

11. Snow sculpture contest.
Create snow sculptures of the architecture, creatures or even characters from Harry Potter. If you want to add color, provide spray bottles mixed with colorant. Keep these bottles warmed so they don’t freeze. Be sure to provide an area to warm up with refreshments.

12. Secret Santa.
Harry received more than one present anonymously – the invisible cloak and the Firebolt are just two examples. Host a Secret Santa exchange and reveal the gift givers at a special event.

13. Socks everywhere!
Allow everyone to bring and decorate one or more pairs of socks.

You might even want to play “Dobby’s Mismatched Socks” game. Provide each participant a pair of mismatched socks in a wrapped box. Everyone opens their box to find their gift. They then must trade socks, one at a time, until they have a pair. They may have to trade for a sock they don’t want because someone who has their sock wants a different one. The prize is each person gets a pair of socks and perhaps a nice card from Dobby.

14. Painting fun.
Pair off your participants. Let them paint a portrait of each other. Be sure to emphasize that it doesn’t have to be an exact likeness, it can be abstract or more realistic. Be sure to incorporate Harry Potter elements into the painting.

15. Camping in the wilderness.
While your tents might not be like Hermoine’s, camping in the wilderness during the holidays is a lot more likely to happen if your girls are active in other groups. Most clubs and groups don’t do much during the holidays, so use this time wisely. You might even want to decorate the trees outside the cabin with nuts and berries for our feathered and furry friends.

16. Hogwart’s Christmas candy.
Inspired by Honeyduke’s? Ask everyone to bring their favorite sweet treats for an exchange. Provide rules for sharing before the event to eliminate misunderstanding. You might also like to make some at the event like taffy or bar cookies.

17. Costume contest.
Ask everyone to dress up as their favorite Harry Potter character, Including Muggles. Rate them on their outfits as well as how well they play the role they’ve selected.

18. Share your ideas.
Do you have more Hogwart’s Christmas ideas? We’d love to hear them. Send them directly to me or post them to our blog at


Supplements Available

SUPP_HP_Feast Recipes.pdf



Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_HP_Christmas Hogwarts


Badge: Digital Natives

Badge: Digital Natives

When you were young, you might not have had a computer, a television or even a radio. Today’s youth were born into technology and it infuses every moment of their lives. Because of this, you may find that you are lost when talking to them or have difficulty connecting with them. They are digital natives. While you may not be comfortable with the technology, you need to be able to understand their world.





1. Frontline: Digital Nation
For an overview of digital natives, watch the flash video from Frontline on PBS. Originally, this aired February 2010. It is 90 minutes long, so get comfortable before you start.

2. PBS webinar.
Scroll down the archive of PBS webinars and find “Education in the Digital Age: A Tour of Frontline’s Digital Nation.” This webinar highlights the Web’s impact on education, multitasking and social media. This webinar will help expand your view of how the world is changing for and by digital natives.

3. Digital native map.
Learn about how digital natives are affected by exploring Wen-Jay. Click on each circle on her picture and learn physical information about digital natives. The list below shows the areas you can find statistics about how technology is affecting our youth.

  • Brain
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Heart
  • Spine
  • Hands
  • Wuji (dog)

Check out other digital native resources on the main PBS Digital Nation page.

4. Digital natives vs. digital immigrants.
Are all people born in the 21st century digital natives? Are all of those born before digital immigrants? There are no absolutes. Find the characteristics of digital natives and immigrants. Take a poll of your friends and family. Which category does each fall into? Or are they somewhere in between?

5. Moving toward truly global.
Phrases like “global community” have been with us a long time. Digital natives communicate with people who are interested in the same things they are. They tend to disregard geographical and political distinctions. They are individual and adaptable, more likely to try something new or look at the world a different way.

With technology, your location is no longer as important as your access. As stagnant, location-specific industries such as newspapers and book publishing fail, others flourish with a world-wide audience. Think of the things you use every day. How many are moving into the global? How many are dying because they are afraid of change? How are digital natives embracing and fueling these changes? How are digital immigrants reacting?

6. Redefining the terms.
Friendship used to mean someone you spent time with physically, going bowling or fishing. You’d discuss your day or air out your problems to a sympathetic ear. Now, friendship is limited to a few hundred people who follow you on the Web.

You can find people interested in the same things you are. For example, when I started desktop publishing in the early 1990s, there weren’t people I could talk to locally. I had to drive an hour and a half to Chicago for lessons as none of the local colleges taught any of the programs. This limitation is gone with the Web. You can ask a question about software and get responses within minutes from people anywhere in the world.

Reflect on how the terms friendship and acquaintance have changed over the last few years. See how much, or little, personal information digital natives share. See how freely ideas and interests are shared and how fast new ideas are developed. Our current technological revolution is redefining and speeding up our lives. What other terms have been affected?


Breaking it down

7. Digital education.
Traditional education was designed to create individuals who were replaceable in the factories, just another material for the industrial revolution. With digital natives, this educational system is changing. From K-12, college and even enrichment classes can be found online. Find out what digital offerings are available that you might like to try. What areas offer digital education? What areas do not?

8. Enrichment project.
Could the Enrichment Project have existed five years ago? Ten years ago? By earning badges online with free resources, you can tailor each badge program for your own tastes, experiences and materials available to you. In addition, multiple people can post their own interpretations to badge programs that can be shared over time, not wasted on a single class or group of individuals. Think of a subject you are interested in that is not available. Can you digitize it?

9. Digital workplace.
Brainstorm the tasks you do every day at your job. What parts could you do digitally without making the trip to the office? Can your company do as IBM and have an empty building with all employees working from home? Think “outside the box” to include not only the tasks you do every day, but how the entire company can adjust to utilize new technologies.

10. Digital entertainment.
Digital entertainment is no longer the domain of large corporations. It is moving toward smaller, more dynamic markets. Read the three areas highlighted below and discuss the questions with others of varying ages and technical abilities to help broaden your understanding of the changes happening in digital entertainment.

Compare the number of television stations 20 years ago and now. How have your watching habits changed? How has technology affected how and when you enjoy television? Try watching a “television” show online. Do you think broadcasting will slowly move completely to the Web? Will programming be on-demand? Will viewing habits be tracked in real time? Do you think old shows and movies will be archived or will younger generations not be interested in “I Love Lucy” and “The Three Stooges?”

Video games are no longer played by one or two people in their home. Video game consoles can connect to the Web to play with people around the world or they can play the games online without having hardware beyond their computer. Will game systems such as Playstation and Wii be around in 20 years or will they be a pay service on the Web?

Compare the music industry of the 1980s and today. How do you get your music? How do digital natives get theirs? Check out the offerings on iTunes or YouTube. Find at least one musician who gives away their music for free. Do you think purchasing pre-packaged music will become obsolete?

11. Social media.
Digital natives are always “on.” Wired. Wireless. Mobile. Instantaneous. They are constantly checking what their friends are doing and sharing what they are doing. Social media affects how information is delivered, communicated and organized. Check out a social media sight such as Facebook, MySpace, Pinterest, Tumblr or Twitter. See what they have to offer digital natives. How can you utilize this for your own purposes?

12. Web 2.0 is the place to explore.
This is a generalized list of different types of Web 2.0 technology that is utilized by digital natives. Explore some of these areas and note how digital natives make Web 2.0 theirs. Do you use any of these?

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Wikis
  • Social bookmarking
  • RSS – Really Simple Syndication
  • Content tagging

Try experiencing one or more of these items. Check out or a learning site of your choice for short tutorials. How easy is it to adjust a wiki or reply to a blog? Would RSS help you keep track of a subject you’re interested in? Does the new technology help make the Web easier for you to use?

13. Creating content.
More than half of teenagers have created online content. Often, they collaborate. Look through social media, video and other sites teenagers frequent. How many do you think were made by the digital natives themselves? What are the benefits of working collaboratively with others? How does this change the Web? How does it change other media? How have attitudes toward intellectual property changed? Look at how Creative Commons has allowed those holding copyrights to waive some of their rights.

14. Multitasking.
Have you seen a digital native working on three or more tasks at a time? This is multitasking. Debates are raging on whether this is something people are adept at or if it is interfering with deeper learning and understanding. Look at both sides of this issue and determine where you fit into the debate.

15. Hardware.
You can’t have digital natives without hardware. Do you remember the first computers that didn’t have hard drives? Now, you have a powerful computer that can be easily carried in the iPad. Smart phones are another “computer” used by digital natives. How do you think the hardware will change in the future? Do you think everyone will have desktop computers or do you think the entire planet will go wireless?


Sites to Explore


To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Digtal Natives