Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun and Rigorous Halloween Activities for Older ELA Students

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 Haloween 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. 

4. 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
Carnivore-flesh, meat
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. If you would like my full list of Halloween root words along with a Halloween root word worksheets, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below! 

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

Want to search more secondary fall ideas!? Be sure to follow this collaborative board!


  1. I love the Word Cemetery! :) Our 5th grade teacher used that, and I thought it was so cute but also extremely helpful for students!


  2. Something tells me I know exactly what that green light is for on the pumpkin :)

  3. Love the idea of having students write about "ghosts" that characters face! I bet this would work well right now since my students will be finishing The Great Gatsby soon.

  4. The ghosts that haunt me - hilarious!