guest post by Peggy James from The Gateway.org
October is here again, and in honor of this scary holiday season, I am posting my suggestions from last year with a few new additions to help you keep your classroom deliciously spooky this year.
As leaves begin falling and scary decorations start to pop up around town, many students are buzzing about what they are going to be for Halloween. Although many schools have banned wearing costumes to school and have “harvest celebrations” instead of Halloween parties or carnivals, the scary side of Halloween is still often intriguing to students. Some enterprising teachers have found ways to bring the spirit of the season into their classrooms in creative and engaging ways. If you want to do more with the Halloween theme this year than jack ’o lantern and ghost crafts, try one of these ideas on the Gateway to bring “spooky” literature and ghost stories to life.
What would Halloween be without images of witches in black dresses riding on broomsticks? Suspected witchcraft has played a huge role in history, and the study of events like the Salem Witch Trials is a perfect tie-in to the month’s festivities.
Which of You is a Witch?, Salem Witch Trials Unit, and Colonial America: The Salem Witch Trials are 3 good examples of witch resources. The Harry Potter series is full of tales of witches and wizards, and their popularity might inspire some of your reluctant readers to pick up a book and read. Check out this Harry Potter Discussion Guide to make the most of these magical books.
There are lots of other fun books that cater to kids’ fascination with everything Halloween, but it can be hard to figure out which ones are appropriate for your students. Common Sense Media provides book lists to help parents and teachers decide which books they want to share with their children. One of their lists is dedicated to books about vampires, werewolves, and zombies for kindergarteners on up: just the list you need for October! Their reviews of the Twilight series are a must read for those of you with Twilight-loving students. Another good “vampire-esque” book to read with students is Bunnicula by James Howe. Bunnicula is geared toward younger vampire-loving students and this lesson from TeacherVision will help you find activities to integrate the book into your classroom activities. You can also read more about activities for reading The Spiderwick Chronicles with your students.
Another popular Halloween character, the ghost, might find a place in your classroom this month. After reading ghost stories or having your students write some of their own, it might be a good discussion-starter to look at and discuss the historical photographs in Do You Believe? A Ghostly Gallery from the American Museum of Photography. It’s very interesting to see how spirits have been captured on film…or is it an illusion? If you are working with high school students, ReadWriteThink’s resource, Ghosts and Fear in Language Arts: Exploring the way Writers Scare Readers is a nice way to get students thinking about and writing scary stories. PE Central has all kinds of fun Halloween activities to get your kids moving. They may be ready to get up and run after all these scary lessons! Ghost in the Graveyard is a fun activity to introduce during this season.
Don’t forget to read Joann’s column this week (linked below) and her post last year, called Boo! Gothic Fiction & Ghost Stories for more ways to tie in the spirit of the season.