I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but in the two schools where I’ve taught, I’ve found that things start to get a little crazy in October. My personal life is busier. My school calendar is bursting. And my students get oh-so excited about every single holiday that will occur in the next few months. I try to embrace the crazy and enjoy the season, and I find that it makes life a little more fun for everyone. However, I never want my instruction to suffer because of me losing site of my instructional goals, so I’ve created and found multiple resources that can be used to allow students to have fun in a purposeful and educational way. I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favorite Halloween ideas and resources that you can use in your classroom. Hopefully these ideas will inspire you as they did me!
Halloween Ideas: Math Centers
I’ve created ten 4th grade Halloween math centers and 3rd grade Halloween math centers that are great for reinforcing math concepts taught in the first quarter of the school year. Each of the activities were designed to be used as centers that can be organized with file folders or any basic container or storage device. I like to attach each center activity title page to the outside of a file folder and attach the center’s directions on the inside of the file folder and laminate the folder. The only prep needed is to print the task cards and/or recording sheets, laminate, and place the cards inside the corresponding file folder, and you’re ready! I’ve only shared a couple of the activities, but if you want to see more you can check out these blog posts: third grade centers or fourth grade centers.
In this activity, students can use candy corn as a counter. Of course, they can still use traditional counters as well. Students should place a candy corn or other Halloween candy on each multiple of two on a hundred grid and continue these steps until you work through numbers 2-10. Students should use the hundred grids to complete the recording sheet.
Spooky recipes is one of my top two favorite centers in this pack. It’s fun AND it incorporates multi-step word problems. With this activity, students will need to refer to a copy of the Spooky Recipes handout. However, they will not need to write on the handout. To help save copies and/or ink, you can laminate a couple copies of the handout. Another option is to attach a copy of the handout to the inside of the center file folder. Students should look at the ingredients on the Spooky Recipes handout and carefully read a Spooky Recipe card. Then, students answer the question using the Spooky Recipes handout.
Haunted Math is my other favorite activity. This is very similar to the popular game of Clue. In this version, someone hid all of the candy at the Halloween party. It’s students’ job to determine who stole the candy, what the candy was hid it in, and the room where the candy is hidden. Students will use the clues on the Haunted Math task cards to solve the mystery in a similar manner to clue. To find a clue students solve the problem on the recording sheet and find the task card that has the answer to the problem on the recording sheet. It will either be a who, what, or where card. Student check off the clue on the table to the right. When students find the who, what, and where that was not checked off, they find the solution to the mystery!
Halloween Ideas: The Day After Halloween
I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the only days more challenging than Halloween is the day AFTER Halloween. There is nothing quite like a room full of children who’ve eaten nothing but candy over the past 24 hours. I’ve heard many teachers say that November 1st should be a school holiday, and I think that sounds like a great idea! However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so I’ve tried to find ways to go with it rather than fight for my students’ attention all day. You can see each of these activities on TpT here or you can see each of the included activities on this blog post.
Students can also write a descriptive writing paragraph about a piece of candy. This is great to tie in visualizing and sensory images! I included a few different forms, because it seems like every year my students need something different for writing. We’ve recently started using a bubble map graphic organizer with the paper students will write on to make the transition from graphic organizer to actual writing a bit easier.
Pumpkin Catapult STEM
I also love this Halloween STEM activity where students design a pumpkin catapult. While I originally planned to use mini pumpkins for this activity, I chickened out and bought pumpkin candy corns instead. I think that the catapults for the mini pumpkins would be fun, so maybe next year! You can download this form for FREE here!
October Word Problems
Another one of my tried and true resources is my October Weekly Word Problems. I’ve written four weeks with of word problems. Each week’s word problems are broken into Monday through Friday segments. There are three word problems for each day of the week, and on Friday, students write their own word problems. I use these every day of the year, and they make a HUGE difference with my students word problem abilities. When I have students solve these, I require them to write the equation they used and to reference the answer and not just write a number. This forces students to think about the problem. I have a third grade version and a fourth grade version.
Halloween Ideas: Choice Board
This year I’m recycling some Halloween Choice Board activities that I made way back in 2010. I actually used the same activities YEARS before that. Back before I knew how to make tables and insert images, I created the choice board and activities by hand. Some years I let students complete one activity a day, and other years I give my students a choice board and have them complete three activities in a row or column. This is different from my Halloween centers, because this is designed to be finished in a day or two, and it doesn’t involve task cards or prep work.
The only special materials you’ll need are two pumpkins. These can be real of artificial pumpkins. I used to buy real ones every year, but after accidentally forgetting it over a weekend made me realize I should probably stick with fake;) In the activity students compare two pumpkins using different elements of measurement. I love the Geometry Haunted House, because you really don’t know what students will think of!
There is writing and solving word problem practice, a rounding game, and a Halloween graphing activity.
There is a page for properties of addition, fractions, and perimeter. I haven’t taught perimeter yet, but I think with a quick explanation, my students can complete the activity.
When I was teaching third grade, I created a few resources that tie-in multiplication and Halloween! I love having a staple of no prep activities ready to go, because I never know when I’ll need a little something extra. These Halloween Multiplication Activities are so incredibly fun too! In this pack, there are a few Ghostly Word problems. These word problems are fairly rigorous, because students solve comparing problems, equivalent group, and unknown factor problems. I like giving students word problems that will require them to think and to not solely rely on the memorization of key words.
Of course there is a Halloween Candy activity, because what goes with Halloween better than Halloween candy. Of course, this activity does not require you to actually use candy, because at this point, that’s the last think my students need:) This lesson goes beyond basic graphing and has students use a table to multiply the amounts of different types of candy by different factors.
My students love the Haunted House activity where they determine the cost of admission to a haunted house. There are so many ways you can differentiate this activity! You could have groups of families, rather than individual families, attend the haunted house for an extra challenge. You can also have students use their own immediate family for the activity, or you could give students a set number for a family to work with. I like to get creative!
The Costume Shop activity is my favorite activity in this Halloween ideas pack! In the activity, students will need to apply some serious problem solving skills! This is my favorite activity in the pack, because of its open ended nature and the required problem solving. I always love activities that present a real challenge for my students.
One thing that I really like about this unit is that there’s almost no prep work! I don’t have to cut out or laminate anything for these activities! I’m working on a fourth grade version now.
Halloween Ideas: Fall Constructed Response
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…It’s essential to begin teaching constructed response at the beginning of the year and to now wait until testing time to teach students how to answer constructed response problems. While I integrate constructed response problems into a lot of my math tasks, I also like to add a set of fall themed multi-step word problems to my guided math centers. I love using anything that will help prepare my students for extended constructed response problems. I also happen to love the look of these task cards. Right now, I have a third grade version, and I’m currently working on a fourth grade version. I’ve limited these problems to content I’ve already taught this year (place value, rounding, addition, subtraction, and multiplication), so that my students have received the necessary instruction to solve each of the problems. These task cards have a fall theme, without any Halloween references, so I can use them in October and November.
Fall Creative Writing
While I prefer teaching writing through writing workshop, I occasionally like to give my students creative thinking or creative writing prompts. I use this for a little extra, not my actual writing instruction. I created these writing prompts when I was getting my gifted endorsement, and tried to write prompts that would promote divergent thinking to allow students to think outside the box. You can print these as a booklet, one page at a time, or display them on your projector. You can just click here to download your prompts for FREE!
I’ve also turned the creative writing prompts into creative thinking or creative writing task cards. I always like having different options of formats, so I thought the task card version might be helpful for you too. You can download the task card version here.
Halloween Ideas: You’ve Been Booed
Another fun week to build a little excitement for any holiday is a class version of You Got Booed. Classes take turns booing each other. To do this, you’ll need some type of basket or container. You can place some type of treat or goodie in the basket. You could add candy, silly straws, erasers, pencils, stickers, wikki sticks, spider rings, or anything fun in the basket. Just make sure you have enough for each student that will be receiving it. You could even add something special for the teacher. Place the goodies, direction sheet, and We’ve Been BOOED sign in the basket and SECRETLY deliver the basket to another classroom. You can place it outside a classroom door or place it inside a classroom while the teacher and students are away from the room. The class gets to keep the treat, and then it’s their job to replace the goodies with something different, and it’s their turn to boo a different classroom. Once a class has been booed, they should place a We’ve Been BOOED sign on their door, so everyone can have the chance to get booed. You can download You’ve Been BOOED here.
This should be kept simple and not overly complicated to prevent creating stress!
One of my favorite Halloween ideas is having students complete a literacy based pumpkin project. Since we never have any extra time at school, this was an optional project that students could complete at home. I absolutely never want to be a burden on parents, so this was assigned in the spirit of having fun. I emphasize over and over again that this assignment should not create unnecessary stress. In the project, students decorated a pumpkin to represent one of their favorite book characters. Then they created a written presentation to describe the character traits of the character they chose.
I think the best part of the whole project was seeing how excited my students were about school. They have been bubbling over with anticipation for the past two weeks and couldn’t wait to share their pumpkins with the class! Here are just a few of the pumpkins that my students turned in. Do you recognize any book characters?