It’s the time of year that everything “pumpkin spice” turns up. Like it or not, it’s here! So, I thought I’d get a head start and share some of my favorite Halloween read-alouds, Halloween activities and some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last few years that might help the day go a little smoother! If you don’t celebrate holidays in the classroom for whatever reason (hey, I’ve been there myself!), feel free to skip this post and I promise not to have hard feelings 😉
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Like most teachers, I begin a month/holiday/theme by pulling out my collection of favorite read-alouds. My October tub happens to be pretty large (not as large as Christmas/Winter…but that’s another post coming soon…). I am a book hoarder and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I peruse the used book store children’s section on a regular basis, make good use of my Amazon Prime account on the regular and use Scholastic book points to grow my collection. These titles are the select few that I absolutely love, and a few are new to me this year and will be in the read-aloud rotation from now on!
Fright Club by Ethan Long
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli
Trick or Treat by Debbie Leppanen
Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson
Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray
Bone Soup by Cambria Evans
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams
I usually only have time for 1 “just for fun” (i.e. not part of our reading program) read-aloud per day, and it’s my absolute favorite part of my day when I really do love the book. If a child has never heard that particular story before, I feel so honored and privileged to be the one reading it to them for the first time! I have such wonderful memories of my own teachers reading books that I now love as an adult, and it just reiterates the important part that we should remember to teach children to love books. It’s hard to remember sometimes when you’re focusing on teaching students how to read that I often forget that there isn’t always an innate love of reading in every child. So, here’s my reminder (and yours if you need it!).
A great follow up to any read aloud is art, right? This Halloween Directed Drawing Pumpkin Cat is so fun! You can try it out with your class and let me know if they enjoy it! Sign up below and it will be delivered right to your inbox (make sure to check your Spam folder if you don’t see it within a few minutes).
One of my favorite things to do when I celebrate Halloween in the classroom is to use “spooky” music whenever I can. Whether it’s a cue to start cleaning up, during an activity or just to play quietly in the background while we read Halloween books with reading buddies, it’s nice to change things up a bit and add some FUN to our routine! I LOVE to use Kidz Bop Halloween because I know there won’t be any language I have to worry about (if you have Prime, you can stream it FREE). My favorite thing about Kidz Bop songs are that you can count on them to be totally G rated and not worry about something inappropriate popping up in the lyrics…a MUST for the classroom.
I’m going to start with my most loved activity. We make these guys and hang them in the hall for a couple of weeks and they are just so darn CUTE. I have done Q-tip skeletons since my first year teaching and after using a Sharpie-drawn skull template for all of those years, I decided to make it a little more presentable and share it with you! I recommend that you ask a parent volunteer at home to cut up the q-tip pieces in advance (q-tips go flying all about when you cut and your hand will begin to cramp up pretty quickly if you try to do the entire class set by yourself). You could also ask parents to send in a handful of Q-tips each to make it a little easier as well (even better if they can cut them ahead of time!). You can grab the FREE qtip skeleton template by clicking here.
Another super easy and quick art project is oil pastel and watercolor pumpkins! I like to cut up the watercolor paper into quarters so kids have a few pieces to draw on. You can really use any color oil pastel, but I love to use the white one because it really makes those other colors pop. I recommend making a few painting examples of your own and printing some photos of pumpkins (and with different angles so they can decide how to draw them). You can search “pumpkin photos” on Google images and find a few different ones to use with your class. If you have the time and money, nothing beats the real thing! You could even bring in a variety of sizes and types (gourds have a lot of color and fun textures and are fun to draw!).
If you’re looking for something with a little more rigor, these Editable Halloween Color by Code activities are the bomb.com. You can use them for literacy (think: vowel sounds, word families, sight words, etc) AND math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, etc.). You fill the spaces in with whatever your class is working on and students complete the problems before coloring in (you can do “silly” colors so they can’t predict the answers for each colored area). They are always a huge hit! You can find my Halloween coloring pages here.
A different fun activity I LOVE to do actually comes after the big day, but you’ll need to prepare for it by sending a note home ahead of time so it’s good to be ready for it. I’ve included a parent letter in this freebie, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Basically, kids save their candy until the next day of school (alternatively you can just get some candy to do this) and then collect data on the type of candy they got while trick-or-treating. Lots of parents have no problem making sure the candy isn’t all eaten on Halloween, but I always keep a bag of surplus candy all year for this occasion in case someone doesn’t remember or just doesn’t have any. Bonus: This means I have chocolate on hand pretty much at all times, which means teacher friends stop by and visit regularly and we can catch up over some much needed Reese’s cups. You can find the FREE Candy Graphing kit here.
Another option that you can do that’s less “Halloween” is to focus on Candy Corn instead. This is perfect for students that don’t celebrate holidays because it’s not actually Halloween themed, yet it’s still loads of fun. This unit includes all kinds of candy corn activities from writing to math and science. My favorite activities are the candy corn science experiment and the candy corn craft. The candy corn experiment is about the easiest science prep I do all year, with the most engaged students. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s candy (a favorite food) and science (a favorite subject)? You can find the Candy Corn Capades activities here.
Jack-O-Lantern fruit cups have been a class hit for many years and parents are even sending them in now! It has to be because they are so easy to make! Just draw a bunch of different jack-o-lantern faces on fruit cups and you’re done! It has to be the easiest, low-prep Halloween snack you can make, which I’m all about (i.e. I have a lot of other things going on, so baking cupcakes is not on my agenda).
I also made these fun little Halloween treat bag printable tags that are really easy to put together (we’re making them for my son’s preschool class this year) and they are perfect for a fun little snack to send home with your kiddos. I bought ghost “Peeps” to make a s’mores treat bag and a few other snacks to make a “Witch Brew” (gummy worms-rat tail, boston baked beans-rat eyes, chocolate covered raisins-shriveled lizard feet, chocolate eyeballs-crow eyes, candy corn-old witch nails). If you’re a food-free school, see my post about treat alternatives here. Click here to grab the tag printable.
And you might have some students that are allergic to gluten or another ingredient, or maybe your school doesn’t allow food treats. It’s a wise plan to have some non-food prizes (which you can then take home and give out along with the candy and use any leftover next year).
My favorites are the witch fingers because they double as 1-1 matching pointers you can use for guided reading! These all make great prizes to have at home for other trick or treaters as well. You can find the links to all of the other non-food goodies below.
7. Bouncy balls
9. Sticky hands
So that’s it! I hope you’ve found some of these Halloween activities for kids useful!
Not ready for Halloween? No worries! Pin for later: