Halloween Fun in the ESL Classroom

close up photo of halloween decors
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Kids and teens love Halloween, and let´s be real here, so do I. There are literally thousands of ways to bring spooky Halloween fun into the ESL classroom, combining culture, relevant vocabulary and even grammar into haunted activities that naturally spark interest and curiosity.

Kids and teens legit don’t get bored with this one, which means that you can easily supplement two or three classes with tricks & treats, without ever once using a boring old PowerPoint to explain the history of the holiday (seriously, please don’t do that 🙄).

Here you’ll find tons of ideas you can incorporate in the classroom, from your little preschool spooks up to the too-ghoul-for-school teens. And if you’re into adding another level of culture and creativity, check out this post to see how I switch it up by introducing Mexico’s colorful and vibrant Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebrations.

Scroll down for Halloween activities for PRESCHOOL and PRIMARY students.

person hands squash fruit
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Spooky Activities for Secondary (12-17 years)

Halloween Trivia Videos 🎬

Works best with: 3º ESO to 2º Bachillerato (14-18 years), adjusting for level
You need: A computer, projector, speakers and paper and pencils for students to take notes.

I use A LOT of videos in the classroom. They´re great listening practice with visuals to help, and they keep short attention spans focused. A few of my faves for Halloween are:

Halloween Betcha Didn´t Know

Betcha Didn’t Know is an awesome video series from the History channel that provides fun facts for almost every holiday. I use these all. the. time. The Halloween edition works well for high-intermediate students, so I typically use it with Bachillerato classes (16-18 years).

Halloween in Numbers

Halloween in Numbers by Alltime Numbers (another classic video series!) is another great one. They speak quickly, but a lot of the information also appears on the screen which makes it easier to understand. I typically use this one with low-intermediate to intermediate students (14-16 years, or 3º / 4º ESO in Spain).

There are a ton of ways to use these videos but my favorite is as follows:

  1. Tell the students you are going to play a video and that they need to take as many notes as possible. Warn them that the narrator speaks fast, but to focus on what they do understand, not what they can’t.
  2. Afterward, tell them that they are going to watch the video a second time and will need to use their notes to make questions for the other groups. The idea is to stump the opposing groups, so they should listen for details. Give them an example (IE, What is the most popular costume in the USA?)
  3. After a second viewing, give them 3 – 5 minutes in groups to create their own questions and then have each group asks their questions to the opposing teams. +1 point to each group who gets it right, or +2 points to the asking group if no one answers correctly.

Who Done It? 🔎

opened bible on wooden surfaca
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Works best with: 1º-2º Bachillerato (16-18 years) and high level 3º-4º ESO (14-16 years)
You need: Character roles and backgrounds printed and cut out. Spooky murder mystery background music is a bonus!

My absolute favorite Halloween activity for higher level students is a good ol’ fashioned murder mystery roleplay.

The teacher presents a plot and 10 – 15 students are given characters to portray. The rest of the class act as detectives to solve the crime. This activity requires some pretty in depth listening skills, as well as logical thinking and deductive reasoning. There are various templates online, but my favorite so far is this one by One Stop English.
** Remember that it’s imperative to talk with your colleagues first to ensure a murder mystery is appropriate and not triggering at your school.

Haunted in the Hood 🏚️

Works best with: 2º ESO to 2º Bachillerato (13-18 years), adjusting for level
You need: A computer, projector, speakers and paper and pencils for students to take notes.

I came up with this gem one autumn afternoon when I stumbled upon a blog post highlighting abandoned areas in the Canary Islands (where I happen to live and teach). I popped some photos on a PowerPoint and have used them in various ways in the classroom, including:

abandoned broken building decay
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Picture descriptions

  • Picture descriptions: 2 or 3 students come up front and see one of the pictures on my laptop (the images are not projected).
  • These 2 or 3 students must describe the images in detail for 5 minutes and the other students must try to draw the images from the description.
  • Afterward, the image is projected and the describers get to choose whose drawing is closest to the actual image.
  • Repeat with new describers.

Scary Stories

  • Show them images of the haunted location and have them brainstorm horror movie plots set in these spooky spots. They can choose 3-5 actors and actresses and set up a basic plot with an introduction, climax and conclusion.

Wherever you live and teach, I´m sure there are a few spooky sights or supposedly haunted houses you can use. I love giving older teens the opportunity to share their local culture with me and to discuss urban legends in their second language since it lets them feel like they´re teaching me something (big confidence booster!)

🎶Thriller🎶

Works best with: 1º ESO to 2º ESO (12-14 years)
You need: A computer, projector, speakers and room to shake yo groove thangs

Micheal Jackson’s Thriller is synonymous with the Halloween season. We all know it, we all love it, we should all learn it! You can do this one as a standard gap fill/kareokee activity, but even better…

There are tons of YouTube tutorials you can use to teach your younger teens some of the basic choreography. It’s a great way to get them up, dancing and having fun in English. Last year my little 12-year-olds did a Thriller flashmob and it was a huge hit.

Nightmare Before Christmas 🌚

Works best with: 1º  to 4º ESO (12-16 years), adjusting for level
You need: A computer, projector, speakers and paper and pencils for students to take notes.

You can stick to the good old fashioned “Here Comes Halloween” gap fill/kareokee (they love this song), or get creative with this one.

A few years ago I was teaching high school art and came across a “Making of” video about this film that I supplemented with a listening comprehension worksheet.

A friend of mine who was lucky to be at a school with mad supplies actually joined with the art teacher and had them do some basic claymation.

Primary & Preschool Ghouls (3-11 years)

The first thing I do when preparing holiday activities for the little guys is think back to the songs and crafts I remember from my childhood. Skeletons, jack-o’-lanterns and the Monster Mash are all big hits that have come into play in my classroom.

photo of children in halloween costumes smiling
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

🎶These Bones, These Bones, These Dancing Bones🎶

Works best with: 1º-6º primary (6-12 years), adjusting for level
You need: Skeleton printouts (below), brads (recommended)

IMG_1343Skeletons are ideal for teaching body parts and obviously tie in perfectly with Halloween.

For the little guys, there are no shortage of cute Skeleton Dance videos on YouTube to sing and dance along to – I love this one by The Kiboomers.

For those that are a little older, skeleton crafts are a great way to make the vocabulary come to life. You can find tons of patterns online and either do a cut/paste/label activity on a black background, or make puppets connected by brads for movable joints.

I love this pattern by Color with Leo because Mr. Bones is smiling and not too scary. You can also use this as a two-part activity, later turning these little guys into colorful Día de los Muertos skeletons.

“I’mFineThankYouAndYouuuuuu?”🎃

IMG_1349

Works best with: Preschool, 1º-2º
You need: Consturction paper

Jack-o’-lanterns are a great way to teach emotions (and shapes as a bonus!) With the minis, I like to introduce emotions with this awesome video by Super Silly Songs, then have them practice making their own jack-o-lanterns by drawing or cutting/pasting emotions onto pumpkins.

Going forward, when you ask how they are, encourage them to use “I’m happy”, “I’m sleepy”, etc. rather than the usual “I’mFindThankYouandYou.”

🎶Do the Mash🎶

Works best with: 4º-6º primary
You need: The video, speakers and printouts if you want to do fingerpuppets.

Who doesn’t love the Monster Mash? The video and Groovy Goolies’ characters are classic, and a great way to teach some Halloween vocabulary and have students tell you what they see using the present continuous:

-¨The vampire is playing the piano.¨
-¨The skeletons are dancing.¨

Bonus points if you have them learn the chorus and make masks or finger puppets representing the characters.

Telling Time: Pumpkin ClocksIMG_1348

Works best with: 3º-5º primary
You need: Construction paper, clock printouts and brads.

Usually in October the kiddos are struggling with learning to tell time, but even something as dreaded as “a-quarter-to-xyz”  is way more fun if you do it in a pumpkin. Some construction paper or a paper plate and a brad for movable hands makes Halloween-o-clock way less painless!

Arts & Crafts: Itsy Bitsy Spiders, Ghoulish Ghosts, Grinning Jack-o’-Lanterns, WHATEVER!🕷️

Works best with: 1º-6º primary
You need: Contruction paper, scissors, glue. Googly eyes are always a hit if you can get your hands on them!

I like to get crafty and switch out the projects every year for variety, but here are some I used last October:

Jack-o’-Lanterns
(4º primary / 8-9 year)

Halloween Paper Strip Jack o Lanterns 4 La Salle Arucas 10-2017 (2).JPG

Handprint Spiders
(3º primary / 7-8 years)halloween-handprint-bats-3-la-salle-arucas-10-2017-1.jpg

Handprint Ghosts
(preschool / 4-6 years)

img_1523.jpg

Get Weird This Halloween!

Halloween is a blast all around, and an easy way to bring some fun into the classroom. If you have any Halloween hits, I’d love to hear about them in the comments 👇!

For more creative ESL Lesson Plans, check out these links!

💀 Day of the Dead Activities for the ESL Classroom

🍂 Native American History Month / Columbus Day Alternative

🦃 Thanksgiving Activities

 

Don’t forget to follow me for more ESL Lesson Plans 📚 and adventures ✈️ in the Canary Islands, Spain and the world 🌍!

✌️💙, Erica

PS: Special thanks to freepik.com for these Watercolor vector created by Freepik“>sweet watercolor Halloween images as well as the Background vector created by Freepik“>cover image 🙂

© Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com, 2016-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Erica Edwards and getupgetoutgetlost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. love the monster mash song idea! my kids are studying present continuous so definitely stealing this one 😀 thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Yassss! Enjoy 😊

      Like

  2. laceyryder says:

    These are some great ideas! I hope to use the murder mystery with my 4th of ESO – we’ll see how it goes. Either way, definitely doing Monster Mash with some of my primary kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Thanks! Good luck with the murder mystery – it can be a bit tricky to navigate at first but it’s lots of fun and really gets them thinking. When you assign roles, make sure you assign a few students to be the detectives who will question all the suspects and you can hang out in back and just help out as needed. I also like to youtube “murder mystery music” and throw it on in the background for effect 😉

      Like

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