Are you looking for a simple way to infuse holiday celebrations into your school day without abandoning your curriculum? Not all schools can celebrate Halloween with a party, but it is possible to merge your students’ Halloween excitement into your literacy block! There are Halloween passages and learning activities that WON’T cause you to deviate from your lesson plans, but will actually enhance them during this time of year. Allowing your students to stay on track with standards is important in the upper elementary classroom for sure!
You can simultaneously sharpen students’ nonfiction reading and creative writing skills while channeling the energy they will bring! In my experience, it’s always tough to keep students “calm” on a day like Halloween, so here’s how you can bring the holiday into your ELA block with very little extra work on your end! I think the best part is that you don’t have to worry about losing a day of teaching; you can absolutely still spiral those reading and writing skills with rigorous and engaging passages, questioning, and writing tasks!
Nonfiction Halloween Passage: Central Idea/Main Idea Practice
Reading passage practice does not have to be used in the same old routine every time. While it’s excellent for assessing student understanding, it can also be a fun, hands-on way to practice reading skills.
One fantastic way to incorporate Halloween is through a kid-friendly Halloween reading passage. With this Halloween passage, students will enjoy learning the history of how Halloween came to be and this nonfiction passage can target many of your reading standards. Specifically, you can focus on teaching or reteaching the skill of determining the main/central idea. Here’s how to do it:
1. Create Student Groups: Decide how many groups of students you want and create these groups ahead of time. (I’ve found a good number to be 3-4 students as it is easier to maintain order and focus.)
2. Print the Passage: Print as many copies of the Halloween reading passage as you need according to the groups you made.
3. Cut the Passage: Divide the passage into paragraphs. (There are 3 main paragraphs, but make sure to cut the “Trick or Treat for Unicef” paragraph out and remove the title to encourage students to determine the Central Idea/Main Idea independently.)
4. Place the Paragraphs into Baggies: Put the cut-up pieces into baggies so that each passage stays together. Distribute one baggie to each group.
5. Student Instructions: Tell students that they will be working together to read each paragraph and determine the main idea/central idea of each one. Once they have identified the central idea, they should come up with an appropriate heading for each paragraph.
This strategy not only allows students to learn about the history of Halloween but also provides them with an incredible opportunity to practice identifying the main idea and supporting details in an engaging way. How spooktacular is that?!
Halloween-Inspired Writing Activities: Morning Work Practice
Writing is always a big focus and it is an area students can always use more practice in! Being able to get student buy-in by dangling an interest, like Halloween, right in front of their eyes will get them moving! One SUPER SIMPLE way to incorporate more writing a little each week in October is to use these writing task cards for morning work.
Start by projecting one of the task cards on the screen for your students to see and explore the genre of writing. Since there are 6 different writing tasks to choose from, your students are now being exposed to choice with their writing. If your students are sitting in table groups, you could also have each table group write to a different writing prompt task and rotate the prompts throughout the week. This should not take more than 10-15 minutes to incorporate.
During this time, you can opt to let students use paper that is different from their standard notebooks, but they can also include this seasonal writing on their next clean, empty page! You can also allow students to complete their writing digitally if you are a Google Classroom school.
You can make a big deal out of this exciting time by revealing the Halloween-related writing prompt of the day or you can place the writing prompts on student desks, having them ready for students when they arrive. Incorporating these writing task cards into your morning routine provides an easy way for students to express their thoughts and ideas while reinforcing the Halloween theme FUN! It’s a purposeful opportunity to boost their writing skills and make the most of the holiday season.
You CAN seamlessly and effortlessly bring the Halloween vibes into your classroom while keeping an intentional focus on critical nonfiction reading and creative writing skills without going into a full-blown celebration or party. Bring the festivities GUILT FREE and STRESS FREE this year! Minutes matter so I love integrating holidays and seasons into literacy so that students understand the WHY behind so many popular holidays and find joy in the learning activity!