Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halloween High School and Middle School ELA Activities: Fun and Rigorous ELA Lessons Plans for Halloween





Raise your hand if you are tired of seeing elementary teachers getting to have all the fun around the holidays!!! (both hands raised).

I somehow got persuaded to teach at an after-school program for elementary students recently, and what amazed me the most from that experience was how EXCITED those little kids were over EVERYTHING. Why should the fun stop after 5th grade? Why can't secondary teachers help older students bring back a little of that enthusiasm for learning?

Here are a few of my favorite fall and Halloween inspired lessons from around the web that are fun enough to add a little holiday cheer to your classroom and rigorous enough to where you wouldn't be embarrassed if administration walked during the lesson. ;)

As a bonus, since I hate messing up my normal flow of lessons, these activities can be done with ANY piece of literature; this means you can use them no matter where you are in your curriculum when Halloween rolls around!


1. Have students write about the "ghosts" that characters face



Extend this lesson by adding in some informational text found here: 8 Ways to Release Ghosts from the Past and be Happy in the Present  and having students apply that advice to their character in an informational writing format. 

2. Work on writing revision by having students find overused words using a word cloud generator then replacing those words with more precise language. 
Download this free tombstone template here: RIP Words 

3. Have students think critically about symbols and color connotations by designing a pumpkin for a character or author. 


           Link to this lesson here: Painted Pumpkin Symbolism and Halloween Writing 

Don't you just love that Harry Potter pumpkin!? Also, I  MUST tell you about my favorite YouTube station of all time. This extremely talented person has created hours and hours of Harry Potter Ambient Sounds and they are everything. I'm playing this one on repeat on Halloween day.

ASMR Halloween Ambient Sounds 

4. Bring in a little reading cheer with this free Halloween bookmark-


You can download this zen doodle bookmark here: Hanging Out With All My Friends 

5. Add creepy literary device posters for mentor texts and decorations. 

5. Work on root words by practicing with Halloween-inspired roots
Here's a list of 10 of the 30  Halloween roots words in this lesson: 

Abnormal -from, away
Biopsy-life
Carnivore-flesh, meat
Incision-cut
Corpse-body 
Abduct-lead 
Hemoglobin- blood
Horror- dreadful
Morgue- death 
Sci-fi - science 

These are so fun to use with little creative writing assignments such as a response to a Poe reading or an original Halloween poem. 

6. Sneak in a little test prep by doing a Halloween informational text close reading


7. Tap into students' desire to dress up by acting out scenes from any story, book, or play. Any time students get the chance to put on silly costumes or props, they love it! This is my go-to activity for when my class starts feeling stale because it can be done on a whim (just have students make costumes using paper and items from your room), requires productive group work, and makes students read independently! The key to this assignment is to make sure groups have a small, but important section to read then act out in ONE class period. If you give them until the next day, it's inevitable that a group member will be absent and their play will be "ruined." Plus, putting a pressing time frame on this assignments really brings out their creativity! Students can use cell phone lights, music, and random items from your classroom to act out their play. 

If you want a no-prep way to bring your text to life through mini plays, you can find my assignment here which includes task cards for each group member and emoji critique cards. 

8. Wear a festive shirt to school- Every year I design a T-Shirt for charity around the holidays. Here is a picture of last year's shirt:
"Professor McGonagall is my mentor teacher" shirt from 2016 



This year, I did a vote on my Instagram account @BuildingBookLove and here is the winner for 2017: 
If you want this by Halloween, be sure and order early because it takes 10-14 days to arrive. You can order this shirt in different styles here: #SquadGhouls

For an after-hours shirt, I also made this one ;)