Halloween can be a major distraction for high school students and even more frustrating for teachers. For a while, I tried (unsuccessfully) to carry on with business as usual, despite the costume contests, treats, and even some tricks. It usually wasn’t very successful though. Then, I realized maybe I could channel that Halloween excitement for a meaningful purpose in my classroom. Sounds like a plan, right? Well, as I learned, it’s easier said than done. If you struggle with how to accomplish this, you’re not alone.
Fear not! Today, I’m sharing my tried and true Halloween lesson ideas for your secondary classroom. So whether you’re trying to cash in on the Halloween excitement as a learning opportunity, or you’re looking for some fresh Halloween lesson ideas, I have you covered!
This is one of my favorite print-and-ready Halloween lessons. Students will complete five learning tasks based on literary perspectives all related to spooky literature: a reader response analysis about a spooky picture, a formal analysis of “I hear a Fly buzz – when I died” by Emily Dickinson, a biographical analysis of Edgar Allan Poe, a deconstruction of Frankenstein’s monster, and a myth study of the headless horseman archetype. This activity is a great way to generate discussion about spooky literature!
2. Halloween Themed Escape Room
This idea came right from the #KeepingtheWonderWorkshop at the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA this October. Imagine 60+ teachers escaping from the haunted Poe Museum! If you’ve been waiting to try an escape room, Halloween is a great time! This one can be a bit of challenge to create from start to finish, but luckily, you don’t have to do all the work…cue my Poe Escape Room. This escape room is general enough to stand alone or pair with any Poe short story. I’ve even included Halloween posters for your clues, so you can give your students a memorable (and meaningful) Halloween activity!
Speaking of Keeping the Wonder Workshop, I learned how to do a mock trial from my friend @writeonwithmissg’s presentation, and then the Poe Museum put on a haunting interactive mock trial for Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”! What I love about the mock trial format is that for literature you can take some liberties, and therefore, it can fit with just about any story. Check out this post for an explanation of what we did, and then read the comments for some great mock trial literature pairings!
View this post on Instagram
Spooky-Themed Picture Books
Halloween is a great time for big kids to reminisce about their younger years. One way that you can prompt these memories is by reading them Halloween-themed picture books as a means of literary analysis. I love using picture books in my classroom for literary purposes. (I’ll be writing more about this soon!) There are so many Halloween-themed children’s books that students could study for literary focus. For example, I love Goodnight, Goon to study parody and polysyndeton/asyndeton. Make sure you download my free looking and listening picture book guide from my VIP resource library. Not a member? Sign up here to get access to ALL of my free resources.
Once they have read and reminisced, they can create their own digital picture books with StoryBird. I have to credit @buildingbooklove for introducing me (and Keeping the Wonder attendees) to this awesome website! In order to make a higher-order thinking activity, I require them to develop a theme related a spooky topic, yet still make it accessible and appropriate for a younger audience. As a bonus, if you really want to take your big kids on a trip down memory lane, you could coordinate with an elementary teacher, to have your students read these books to younger students.
Public speaking can be frightening for most students, but on Halloween, you can give your students some “tricks” for mastering impromptu speaking. Help them gain confidence by practicing strategies, like the rule of three, tell a story, or in small groups to build up to large group practice. Then, practice what they learned with fun Halloween topics, such ghost encounters, UFOs, Dracula, spooky settings, and more. These speeches are such a treat (see what I did there?) because the topics are fun and the environment is low-stakes. You can check out my ready-made lesson here.
I hope these Halloween lesson ideas will make your Halloween a little more focused and a little less hectic. As I mentioned before, some of these ideas came from Keeping the Wonder Workshop. If you’d like to see these ideas and so much more come to live in an interactive, teacher-led workshop full of wonder, keep on the lookout for our new location. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from the Keeping the Wonder Workshop at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia on October 8th!