Whether at home or at school there’s always plenty of enthusiasm for Halloween activities. Costumes, tasty treats and a few traditional games are all part of the fun – and where there’s fun there are opportunities for learning. The following options look at how to get the most out of some familiar activities and at approaches to connecting Halloween to wider learning.
The hallmarks of an enjoyable Halloween topic or event include atmosphere, anticipation and one or two surprises. For example, we expect costumes with a magical or supernatural slant; we look forward to seeing everyone’s costumes; and we get excited about the most imaginative costumes.
It is, therefore, quite easy to take Halloween as a theme and to make the most of the lead-in by:
• Explaining Halloween through objects and items which remain on view and are added to (For extra show it’s worth checking with local and national museums to see if they lend suitable items).
• Investigating costumes and the myths behind typical costumes before making accessories to liven up costumes (Earrings, badges, temporary tattoos and Halloween nail or eye makeup can all make for inexpensive and manageable activities).
• Discussing genre; writing (secret) ghost stories; and, finally, presenting each tale in a darkened room and from the comfort of an armchair.
• Designing or learning a basic ‘supernatural’ card, board or dice game where the finished game is played at Halloween.
Clearly these types of approaches offer plenty of opportunities for improving literacy- and numeracy-focused skills in a context most students and teachers find entertaining and/ or intriguing. However, there is no need to stick within a limited range of subject areas. Quite the opposite, as the topic lends itself both to cross-curricular work and to a variety of technologies suited to adding more atmosphere, anticipation and surprises (which can be advantageous in terms of engaging the interest of any older pupils or students who may have become a bit jaded with ‘the same old’ Halloween).
• For those with access to tablets ColorApp has a Halloween activity well worth trying out.
• SketchUp offers free 3D modelling software that works with 3D printing outlets and is capable of bringing any number of Halloween designs to life.
• Traditional Halloween treasure hunts are still fun, but there are ways to adapt them to everything from computing classes through to whole school or college activities.
Overall, it seems like there’s plenty of life left in Halloween as a source of both fun and of learning driven by fun. It’s certainly not necessary to have lots of resources to make an impact and few topics are so readily adapted to working across a range of skills or subjects. Which leaves me reckoning I’d have enjoyed a class on the chemistry of making traditional toffee apples.
The Haunting Hour: Chills in the Dead of Night by R. L. Stine.
Ghost Stories and How to Write Them by Kathleen McGurl
ColorApp – Halloween pumpkins download
Using SketchUp Make
SketchUp 3D Printing
Halloween 3D Printing
High Tech Treasure Hunts