If you are like me, you probably love to celebrate holidays, especially in the classroom! During my first year of teaching, October rolled around and I could not wait to celebrate Halloween. I asked my team what Halloween classroom ideas they had and they informed me, “holidays are not celebrated in fifth grade.” As a first-year teacher, I did not express my true feelings about that statement, but I knew it wasn’t true. If there are grown adults who enjoy celebrating holidays, upper elementary students definitely do too!
I think the reason why some upper elementary teachers refrain from celebrating holidays is because it takes away time that could be spent covering the standards. The solution to this is simple! Just make sure all holiday activities are also related to the standards. In this post, I am sharing some of my favorite Halloween classroom ideas for upper elementary. Not only will students love these activities, but they will also get to practice reading and math skills at the same time.
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Halloween Reading Activities
There are lots of ways to incorporate Halloween classroom ideas into your literacy instruction. Often, I will read a Halloween themed book or passage with students as a class or during guided instruction. Then, I will have the students complete related activities at reading centers around the classroom.
Halloween Passage and Activities
One of the easiest ways to incorporate holidays into an upper elementary classroom is by using a comprehension passage that teaches about the holiday. I use a passage that teaches the history of Halloween for either guided or whole group instruction. After reading the passage, I have students rotate through centers to complete activities related to the text. Some of the center activities might include:
- completing a cause and effect worksheet
- defining vocabulary that was used in the passage
- creating a foldable book to summarize information
- completing a creative writing activity related to the passage
This is one example of a Halloween passage I use that comes with seven center activities.
Halloween Inference Game
One of the most challenging reading skills for upper elementary students is inferencing, so I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate this skill into my reading lessons and centers. One of my favorite Halloween activities is this Halloween Inference Game. In this activity, students learn about a group of characters that are having a school Halloween party. Then, the students must use clues to determine what costume each character wore to the party. There are 16 task cards with clues and 16 characters cards. Students must match each clue to the correct character to complete the activity.
Students always find bats interesting, so incorporating bats into your Halloween reading activities is a great idea! In October, I always use Stellaluna by Janell Cannon as a read aloud. Then, I have students complete bat activities at their reading centers. Some of the activities include:
- explaining character development throughout the story
- sorting facts and opinions about bats
- reading a nonfiction passage about bats and comparing it to what was written about bats in Stellaluna
- sorting fragments and complete sentences about bats
Here is the resource I use to have students sort fragments and complete sentences.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
I admit it, I’m a huge fan of the Charlie Brown holiday movies. So, I love finding ways to incorporate these sweet films into my instruction around the holidays. Usually, I save the movie for October 31 (or the Friday before October 31 if it falls on a weekend). I allow students to watch the movie and eat snacks. Since most of the schools I have taught in do not allow Halloween parties in upper elementary, this movie time serves as their “party.” If you are unable to show movies in your classroom, there is also a book version of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! that can be used as a class read aloud.
After the movie, I create fun centers around the classroom related to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! At the centers, students complete activities that use different reading and writing skills such as sequencing, plot, context clues, summarizing, and creative writing.
Halloween Activities for Math
ELA is not the only place where your Halloween classroom ideas can be used. There are also lots of great opportunities for using Halloween activities in math!
For the simplest Halloween classroom ideas, just add candy to whatever you are doing. When teaching math in October, there is likely a way you can incorporate Halloween candy into it. For example, if you are comparing numbers or fractions, use candy corns. The shape of the candy corn makes the perfect greater than, less than sign.
In one of my favorite Halloween math activities, I give each student a bag of fun-size M&M’s. Students empty the container and must determine how many of each color is in the bag. Then, they must use that information to create a fraction, a decimal, and a percent. Students can then compare their answers to see who has more or less of each color.
Who says you can’t go trick-or-treating at school? I have students go around to certain classrooms and stations in the school. At each station, there is a teacher or another adult who works in the school. When students arrive at the station, they say “trick-or-treat.” Then, the adult gives them a task card with a math problem. Students must correctly solve the problem to earn their treat and move onto the next station.
If you are concerned about students accumulating too much candy with this activity, use a different reward. You could use a healthy snack, small erasers, or pencils.
Other Halloween Classroom Activities
Halloween Worksheets for Morning Work
Students enjoy answering questions and solving problems when they are related to something they are interested in. Most students like Halloween. So, throughout the month of October, use Halloween themed questions on your morning work.
I have created morning work for fourth grade and fifth grade. Each morning work worksheet includes a variety of ELA and math questions with a Halloween theme. To save paper, I have also created a digital version of my fourth grade and fifth grade morning work.
Halloween STEM Challenges
Your Halloween plans should definitely include at least one Halloween STEM challenge. Suggestions for STEM challenges include:
- build a tower out of Halloween candy
- design a bridge and see how many candy corns it can hold before it breaks
- find a way to move a small pumpkin without using hands
Celebrating holidays is not just for primary students! There are lots of fun Halloween classroom ideas you can incorporate into any upper elementary classroom. Celebrating holidays can also be academic. Using the activities listed above, you can cover your ELA, math, and science standards while having some Halloween fun!
If you want to celebrate Halloween in your classroom, but are short on time. Here are some of my favorite Halloween activities for upper elementary:
- Halloween Inference Game
- Halloween Passage, Questions, and Activities
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Activity Pack
- Fragments and Complete Sentences Using Bat Facts
- October Morning Work: Fourth Grade and Fifth Grade