As a teacher, I SO looked forward to Halloween. I’m convinced my brain would erase the exhaustion from the previous year leaving only giddy, naive, anticipation. There’s something magical about Halloween in an elementary school. From the Parade to the party, some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around them. Halloween as a teacher is SO MUCH FUN and SO EXHAUSTING. How a day can be looked forward to as the best day, and remembered as the worst day will forever be a mystery. If this is your first Halloween as a teacher or you’re a seasoned pro… embrace it, and do your very best to enjoy it. I wanted to share some of my favorite Halloween activities that work great the day of, week of, or even during the month of October. Many work well in elementary, upper grades, all the way up to High School! ***Word of caution: Don’t throw your management out the door. Treat the celebrations and special activities as rewards that are to be earned. DO NOT be afraid to pause or cancel an activity because of inappropriate classroom behavior. Follow through and be just as consistent, if not MORE with your management on a day like Halloween!
Holidays are the PERFECT time to work on language and poetry. Especially with language, and figurative language if gives you a bass to build on and tie into. It also keeps everything fun, exciting, and different. Each holiday I try to have a project that encourages and examines figurative language. Halloween is no different. This project is SO FUN. The kids eat this one up.
Students create a “Flap” Bat book. Here you define the different parts of figurative language and brainstorm different “Halloween” examples. My original book is listed to use as a reference. I glue their flap books in their interactive notebooks to act as an anchor chart throughout the year and during the activity.
Next, we move onto the writing activity. This poem template came from one of my dearest friends and colleagues. It is PERFECT for Halloween. To start we use the brainstorm page to think of as many “Halloween” nouns, adjectives, and verbs we can. You can have the students work in small groups, then come together and share or keep it a whole class activity. They LOVE this part and are so creative! Next, you challenge them to put them all together to create “Halloween” descriptive language, take it a step further by using alliteration. (Warty, witches, wobble…) Give them time to experiment with their list. Have them work in small groups, then share their favorites with the class keeping a list they can use when it comes time to format their poems.
I’ve included different poem templates to meet your student’s needs. One basically acts as a guide where they are guided with what type of part of speech to insert. When they are finished they have a wonderful Halloween poem that is sure to please. Once everyone is done I have them rewrite their poem so I can display it in the hall with their Halloween art! Keep reading to see the GENIUS idea I use to create Halloween Art.
I LOVE this one! I feel like this is one of my best-kept secrets when it comes to the products I create. Roll a monster is a review game that is so fun students don’t realize how much work they are doing, let alone the practice they are getting in. I enjoy using this as a whole class review, however, it would work great as a reteach, and enrich activity, individual center, or rotations, test prep…etc!
Students work in teams of 4. Each member is assigned a number 1-4. If you don’t have teams of 4 partner students up that need extra support. Each of the four teammates will solve at least one problem per round, then take turns bringing their answer sheet to be checked by the teacher. If a team answers all 4 problems correctly the teacher gives them the next round of problems to complete. When a round is completed the same teammate that brought the answers to be checked off, rolls a dice and draws the specific body part of their unique monster. After each round, the teammate that brings the answers to the teacher rolls the dice and draws the monster rotates. ***Make sure to watch the video below for a brief explanation of the activity and a tip for splitting your students into their groups!
***To make this review a bit more challenging I simply answer yes or no when the sheets are brought back to me to pass off. If the students answer all of the questions correctly I say yes and hand them the next round. If even one of their answers is wrong all I say is “no”. This requires the students to go back together to determine their mistakes, which results in extra practice and a more solid understanding of the concept.
It’s incredible to see the collaborative art piece students come up with while they work together as a team. Each round is specific to a part of the monster. For example, in round 3 the dice roll determines the type of nose their animal will have. Depending on the number they roll their monster could have a beak, a snout, or even a trunk…etc! The dice roll and drawing keeps things fun, and the kids stay engaged as they anticipate what their final monster will look like!
You can play as many rounds as you choose! Typically, I would play a minimum of 8. However, in the 5th-grade version I created there are as many as 12. Trust me this one is a winner. If you are a 5th-grade teacher, make sure to check out the Math review I created that goes over Prime Factors, Powers of 10…etc! Anyone else make sure to snag the editable version that allows you to create your own review through powerpoint. Simply type in the review questions from the boring textbook and watch the problems come to life.
TIP: Before starting the Roll a Monster Relay, I always make sure to have a discussion with the class about the main objective of this activity. Many like to think it’s for fun…Wrong. Though that is a top concern, learning the material is always number one. Everything else comes secondary. To reinforce this I motivate and facilitate by giving 3 awards at the end of the activity. 1 goes to the team to finish first, another to the team with the best artwork (I let the students decide this with a vote) and lastly, I reward the team that worked together the best, where I felt the most learning was taking place. This REALLY helps. Please please please tag me when you use this in your classroom! I want to see the monsters your students create!
YouTube Guided Halloween Art:
This one is genius and will give you a much needed mental break to avoid a mental break down due to Halloween in the classroom overload. After students have finished their poems I turn the time over to YouTube to direct the class in a How-to-Draw Video. Because YouTube can be sketchy, especially in the school setting. I’ve scoured the tutorials and bring you my very tried and true favorites. In the past, I have done the Frankenstein and a couple of Haunted Houses. Both of which the students absolutely love. The Frankenstein especially holds a special place in my heart! When students have finished their drawing I give them time to spruce them up with details, shading, and color if desired. From there, students mount both their drawing and finished Halloween Poem on construction paper to create a treasure that can be displayed in the hall or taken home.
A few tips that allow this to work swimmingly.
- Mute the video. On Halloween, all it takes is the tiniest corny joke from the YouTube illustrator to send your class into a frenzy. I like to play Halloween music, or classical, or a mix of both with the Harry Potter Soundtrack. You’re. Welcome.
- Slow the video WAY DOWN. Did you know you can change the playback speed of the video. I’m not too proud to tell you I learned this nifty little trick from my very own 5th graders. You have a couple different options. As a class figure out a good pace to play the video.
- Play the video all the way through for the class to watch and observe before beginning. This will allow for fewer stops as the students will have a better idea of what to anticipate.
- Make sure students have a good eraser, and more than one pencil before beginning.
A list of my FAVORITE YouTube Halloween Directed Drawings:
Halloween Stem | Steam Ideas
I’m always on the lookout for fun holiday-inspired STEM | STEAM ideas to try in the classroom. There, of course, are a lot of fun Halloween ideas to try. ***If you do attempt to do a little Stem in your classroom come Halloween day, my only piece of advice would be to structure it as much as possible. The more free reign, the more room for chaos. As a teacher, a teacher on Halloween Day, chaos is your enemy.
One of the ways I structure my Stem projects is by having students complete my STEM | STEAM planning sheet, and reflection page. This keeps them focused on the task at hand and requires them to think. Too often I think Stem projects miss the mark simply because students didn’t quite get there and only saw the fun. Though Stem | Steam projects SHOULD be fun. They should also be a building, learning experience that shapes how students think and view the world. These planning pages help scaffold just that. To learn more click here.
Halloween Stem Ideas:
- Create a Pumpkin Catapult
- Create a Q-Tip Bridge Challenge
- Make Frankenstein Come to Life, or a Ghost Fly in the Night!
- Witches’ Hat Challenge:
- Challenge students to create a witches hat out of paper and tape.
- It must be able to be worn by a teammate
- None of the tape can be showing.
- Paper Bat Flying Contest
- Make a Skeleton Hand
Spider and the Fly:
Make time for a read-aloud. No matter the age. Period. My Favorite Halloween book of ALL. TIME. Is the famous poem, The Spider and the Fly set to illustrations by Tony Diterlizzi. I don’t even know where to begin with this text. This is an ageless story that just screams for rigor. This can be enjoyed and analyzed by 1st graders, all the way up to High Schoolers and beyond. The stage is set for wonderful and meaningful discussion, and the illustrations though black and white, are completely enchanting. Everyone has a handful of books they consider beloved. This is one of mine. If Halloween has been the day it has every potential of being as a teacher and even the thought of a read-aloud brings dread. You’re in luck, though I don’t think it has the same magic as holding the actual book. You can still share the story through the video below.
I love a good reader’s theatre and this one is no exception. The Boy who Wanted the Willies, is SO FUN. My 5th graders loved it. Remember when you are printing all those scripts that you can actually save them from year to year. The first time you print them, after assigning roles. Have each student go through with a red pen or marker highlighting their lines. Writing the name of their character at the top of the page. This simplifies things for everyone, including you come next Halloween.
When assigning roles I try to keep things as fair as possible. I begin by writing each role on the board. I make sure the students know which roles require A LOT of reading. This allows students to be more accountable for their choice when they pick which character they would like to read for. After that, I start randomly drawing class numbers. When a student hears their number, they are to write their name next to their desired role. With this specific Reader’s Theatre, I would need two casts for the entire class to have a part. You can also add a couple of roles such as director, and sound technician. The sound technician is in charge of sound effects. With the smaller roles or multiples, you may consider assigning students to more than one role.
With any reader’s theatre, the focus in on fluency. Once mastered let them move to actions, movement, sounds, props…etc. I suggest working on this throughout October and then performing for the grade level, their classmates, or even the school come Halloween!
If you haven’t tried Blackout Math in your classroom. Halloween is the PERFECT day to give it a try. All you need is a black light and highlighters. Use black butcher paper to block out light from the room. You can, of course, add to the effect with glow sticks and anything neon! Consider it a glow day and have a blast with this unique way to add a little zest to your teaching!
Another great way to celebrate Halloween is by learning a little bit about it’s history and origin. One of my favorite ways to do this is through a QUIZIZZ. “Quizizz allows you to conduct student-paced formative assessments in a fun and engaging way for students of all ages.
Benefits of using Quizizz:
- Student-paced: Questions appear on each student’s screen, so they can answer questions at their own pace, and review their answers at the end.
- BYOD: Can be played by students using any kind of device with a browser, including PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Lots of options: You can pick from pre-made quizzes that were added by teachers, select applicable questions from different quizzes to create your own, or simply start from scratch.
- Reports: Data. Data. Data.
- Quiz Customization: You can customize the quiz to the needs of your class.
What are your favorite ways to survive… I mean celebrate Halloween in the classroom? Comment below or connect on Instagram or Facebook!