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!

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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
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Instead of having students answer comprehension questions on paper, a foldable book can be a fun comprehension activity.

This is one example of a Halloween passage I use that comes with seven center activities.

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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.

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Bat Activities

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Candy 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.

Trick-or-Treat Math

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 Escape Room

There is one type of activity that all students seem to love… classroom escape rooms! In my Halloween-themed classroom escape room, students complete a series of challenges that combine ELA and math skills as students try to escape a haunted house. Usually, students have so much fun with this escape room activity that they do not even realize they are learning in the process!

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.

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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

Conclusion

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:

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Are you looking for even more great Halloween classroom ideas for upper elementary? Here are some great Halloween activities created by my talented teacher friends: