Most kids love Halloween and wait for "trick or treat" with great anticipation. What other time of year do you get to dress up like your favorite monster, animal, or superhero and enjoy free candy? While some schools are banning Halloween celebrations, others continue to have the ever-popular costume parades and pumpkin decorating contests. Here are some fun and easy ways that you can incorporate the spirit of Halloween into your classroom activities.
Read All Day Nightmare by R.L. Stine. This interactive book allows readers to choose the plot of the story. Have students read the book on their own, or in small groups, with the decisions made by popular vote. You can then pass out worksheets on the book, or have students write their own adventure stories.
You can use Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Raven," as the center topic for the day. This works best with upper-elementary school students who can understand the language of the piece. You can pass out printable worksheets of the poem, discuss themes, or draw pictures of the room and the raven.
Science classes will enjoy learning about this unique and often misunderstood mammal. You can build bat houses, look up different types of bats, and discuss bat safety. Younger students may also enjoy making paper bats that you can hang from string from the classroom ceiling.
Pick a short, spooky story, keeping in the Halloween spirit. After each paragraph, ask students to tell you what happened and what they think will happen next. You can then have students write their own alternate endings to the story.
Write on the board, "This Halloween I saw a (insert Halloween character here). This was no ordinary (insert Halloween character here), but was very special because…" Have students complete the story, telling the audience about their special Halloween character. You can then choose to illustrate the stories and put them together in books to take home.
Pass out printable worksheets on different cultures and how they celebrate Halloween or a similar holiday. Classes can be divided into small groups to create presentations on the different customs, foods, and significance of Halloween around the world.
For physical education classes, or some recess fun, you can play ghouls and goblins. Split the class in half, one half being the ghouls and the others being the goblins. Randomly, the teacher should shout out one or the other. The team that is called then chases the other team, capturing as many as they can and converting them. This continues until everyone is either a ghoul or a goblin.
Half of the fun of Halloween is dressing up. Encourage kids to wear their costumes to school (making sure that they follow any school guidelines, such as no masks or excessive gore). Award prizes for the scariest, funniest, and most creative costumes.
If it will be too difficult for your students to learn on Halloween, consider fun games. You can try traditional favorites like bobbing for apples, or blindfolded guessing games where peeled grapes are "eyeballs" and cold spaghetti are "worms."
If you have the facilities, your class will enjoy making their own Halloween goodies. They can decorate their own Halloween cookies or make ghoulish cutout sandwiches for lunch. Alternatively, you can send homeschool worksheets home a week or so before challenging students to bring in their own creepy creations to share with the class.
Halloween is a fun time for most students, and can be turned into a learning experience with a little bit of creativity. Take advantage of this creepy holiday to introduce the class to new concepts and ideas.