Ever celebrated national pasta month? I have. My friends and I hosted a garlic bread and golden noodle extravaganza in the old dorm lounge sophomore year for dozens of guests.
So. Much. Sauce.
I guess you could say I’m a holiday person. I bring allll the frosting tubes to the gingerbread house bash, spend two hours painting my face into an elaborate purple skull for the Day of the Dead dinner, pile the moon cakes into festive arrangements for the mid-autumn festival, write fancy little notes from the Easter bunny.
Tell me you’re surprised.
So of course, I’ve given some thought to fun ways to combine Halloween and English class. If you enjoy the spooky season, here are some ways to splash orange and black into your lesson planning in October.
#1 Halloween Writing Prompts
Incorporating a Halloween riff into your writing once or twice a week in October is an easy way to celebrate the season without changing your usual routines. You can use the Halloween prompt to work on whatever you’re focused on in the moment, whether that’s incorporating complex sentence structures, your weekly vocabulary words, sensory detail, dialogue (and the grammar conventions that go with it), or something else.
I made ten fun starters for you, five featuring photo prompts, five a bit more lighthearted for the younger set.
#2 Digital Poetry Tiles
If you’ve ever stood next to someone’s fridge arranging and rearranging their magnetic poetry into something that makes you walk away grinning, then you know the fun of digital poetry tiles. This activity gives students a chance to ditch writer’s block and simply pull together a poem without stress.
#3 Halloween Attendance Questions
Attendance questions are such a great way to kick off class and get to know your students better. It’s pretty easy to put a Halloween spin on them for October.
Candy corn or popcorn balls?
Would you rather wear a costume every day in October or have everyone else wear one every day in October?
Snickers or Reese’s?
What’s the best scary movie of all time?
Apple cider or pumpkin spice lattes?
#4 Roll out a Limetown Lesson
OK, real talk. Limetown is way too scary for me. And possibly for some classrooms. (Spoiler alert).
I think it was episode three that sent me running for Google, trying to find out what the heck Limetown really is and if it really happened or if the show was just messing with me. Yep, turns out it was just messing with me. Limetown is a weird twist on realistic fiction – realistic fictional investigative journalism.
The show’s producers know how to drive suspense and set up a cliffhanger, that’s for sure. If you’ve got true crime junkies, horror movie afficianados, or Stephen King fans, chances are they’ll love Limetown. You could use it as part of a choice board, do a one off listening lesson with it, or include it in a podcast club unit around this time of year. Just be sure you preview the show and make sure that it’s OK for your students.
#5 It’s Poe Time
If you read that while smacking one fist into the other as if you were saying “It’s GO time,” bonus points for you.
October is the perfect month for a dash of Poe, ELA’s favorite go-to spooky author. (Sorry, Bram). You could pull out a short story like “The House of Usher,” “The Raven,” or “The Telltale Heart” to discuss and maybe use for some Halloween-themed blackout poetry or a spooky one-pager project.
Or you could dive headfirst into this Poe escape room I designed, because really, what’s more Halloween-y than the intersection of Poe and escape room pedagogy?
#6 Feature Spooky Books in your Choice Reading Program
If you’re running a First Chapter Friday program or you have a choice reading program, now’s the perfect time to mix it up by featuring spooky books. While I’m too horror-averse to have read many, Scythe, Dracula, and Frankenstein come to mind.
You can turn to Epic Reads for a whole lot more recommendations – check out their list of 26 YA Horror Books. Honestly, I got a bit uncomfortable just browsing the list. I’ve still yet to read a single Agatha Christie or Stephen King novel, or watch even one horror movie. That’s just the kind of gal I am. But so many kids love spooky books (Remember Goosebumps from elementary school?).
I made you an easy printable display set with a table tent to put out on your Halloween display, and cards your students (or other faculty) can fill out with their favorite spooky books and even a quick review. Make your copy here.
Alright, my friend, I hope this post has you excited for some fun possibilities to go with your pumpkin spice lattes in the coming weeks!