Keep it Spooky: Using Halloween to Teach Your Students
October 23, 2020
I’ve always loved Halloween.
Sure, free candy is a nice get, but I mostly love it for the ambiance. The leaves change color, the wind picks up, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns start appearing on doorsteps. There’s just something so pleasantly spooky about the whole affair. It’s almost as though the holiday itself were extending you an invitation to have a little fun. It’s a nice change from the grim forecast we’ve all grown accustomed to.
If you’re like me, you probably hoped 2020 would have mellowed out by the time October rolled around.
No such luck.
America is still struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19. A divisive election is boiling all around us. Schools are still frantically trying to adjust to the ever-changing world of virtual and blended learning. Many teachers are tired, overwhelmed, and anxious. If there was ever a time for Halloween hijinks, it would be now.
Embrace the Eeriness
So, why not take Halloween up on its offer? Embrace the spookiness of the season and use it as a learning opportunity for your students. Trust me, it’s not as crazy as it might sound. There’s a good chance your students are just as anxious, frustrated, and tried as you are. After all, the spread of COVID meant an end to their summer and the general nullification of their winter holidays.
Experimenting with Halloween activities could be precisely what they (and we) need to reignite the passion for learning. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that humans viewed chemistry and engineering with the same wonder we view magic. Take some time and construct Halloween-themed lessons for your students. Not only will it give them a chance to view subjects in a new light, but it could also provide them with some much-needed social-emotional development.
Tricks or Treats?
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas to keep things spooky:
- Tandem Ghost Stories: Tandem stories are the perfect way to exercise student collaboration and creativity while also strengthening writing and language. Break students into pairs and have them take turns writing a ghost story. Then sit back and watch the craziness unfold!
- Creepy Crawlies: Do you know any fun facts about creepy animals? Share them with your students! Did you know there are bats that can actually catch fish? Or a bird which impales its food on thorns? What about a dancing spider? Scary movies have nothing on nature!
- Learn Your History: Where did Halloween come from? Why do we dress up in costumes and hand out candy? And how does a persistent gardener named Elizabeth Krebs fit into everything? These are questions that are worth pursuing! Spend time investigating the origins of Halloween, and consider introducing students to even more spooky holidays.
- Mad Science: Nothing gets kids invested in learning like crazy experiments. Using only common household items, show your students how to make lightning from a grape! If you’d prefer something more lowkey and sweet, conjure up a treat by teaching students to make their own candy. The possibilities for fun are endless!
This has been a tough year, and there is still a long way to go yet. Yet even in the midst of COVID, we teachers can create opportunities to celebrate, laugh, and spread a little light. Please use this opportunity to rest, refuel, and renew yourselves. Halloween has plenty of scientific tricks and treats to share with your class, just remember to keep it spooky!