I can’t believe it is already Fall! Seriously, where is the time going? September went by in a flash and before I knew it my (now) 9 year old daughter was asking me to buy her Halloween costume which she knows we do right after her birthday (end of September). So, to the right, you will see my daughter, dressed up as “Addison” from Zombies 3. We are all set and ready for Halloween in the Algrim house!! However, when I was a classroom teacher the idea of the first classroom party was always nerve-racking and a little stressful.
As a first year teacher I had room parents who planned the party and “took over” my classroom for the party. Talk about a stressful 2 hours for a Type A personality! Haha. My second year in the classroom I got a bit smarter (learning from my mistakes) and had a more structured meeting with my room parents prior to the party planning so that we were all on the same page and expectations were clear. This went better, but after the party I still felt that there had to be a better way to celebrate Halloween, providing opportunities for my student to have a “party”, have fun, and not act like they had never been in a classroom before….you know what I am talking about, those behaviors you have successfully been able to minimize since school started in August all of a sudden are back in full force! After commiserating with my colleagues, I sought the advice of an experienced and well respected teacher to find out why her Halloween parties always seemed so calm, and yet the kids still seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The advice she gave me was simple: I should plan the events of the day and invite parents in for an extra set of hands and to participate at the end of the day (after the whole-school parade of course).
I let this information ruminate and by October of my 3rd year of teaching I was prepared to have the best Halloween with my students ever, it would no longer be the scariest day of the year for me!! Here are a few suggestions and activities that worked for me, and my students. Hopefully you will find them helpful as you plan your stress-free Halloween party for the 2022 school year!
Tricks and Treats for a successful Halloween Party:
- Keep to your schedule of the day (for the most part) but substitute “Halloween activities” during each block of time. Here are a few activities that I’ve either implemented and found success with and/or found others doing:
- Is the Halloween/Fall image Symmetrical or not? Draw your own Symmetrical Halloween image using a mirror.
- Estimate how many pumpkin seeds are in various sizes of pumpkins. Then cut open the pumpkins and count them. I was lucky enough to have a kitchen in the school I worked in so we would roast the seeds and have them as a salty snack later in the day too!
- Discuss weight and perimeter as you use pumpkins to measure and compare size/pounds.
- Have students find how many combinations of jack-o-lanterns they can make with the eyes, nose, and month you provide them.
- There are countless Halloween books available for you to share with your students, here is a link with some titles for you to check out and choose from. My daughter LOVES Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and my older students couldn’t wait for me to read Roald Dahl’s, “The Witches” to them!
- I’ve been doing a lot of research on Podcasts in the classroom lately and found Jeff Glade’s website where he provided a curated list of podcasts for Halloween (applicable Pre-K through 12th grade!) Have your students check out one of these Podcasts and share with a friend what they learned or discovered.
- Students could also practice their figurative language through the lens of Halloween. For example: “Metaphor” – Mike was a hungry goblin wolfing down a handful of miniature candy bars. Halloween Mad Libs would be another variation of this activity.
- Have students write a “spooky” story of their own.
- I found this gem (Runde’s Room) years ago. I had each of my students write a summary of the book they were reading, and we created a class pumpkin patch of our summarties put together to make these 3-D pumpkins.
- Students could paint their own Jack-O-Lantern (or create one online) and write a detailed paragraph about their pumpkin using descriptive words.
- Did you know there was a Google Earth tour of the story of Halloween? Neither did I…Check it out here! (Intended for older grade levels)
- There are a ton of resources available regarding the history of Halloween, have groups of students complete a research project.
- Students can create a map of the route of houses they will hit up for Trick-or-Treating!
- Students can research “Halloween animals” such as bats, rats, wolves, owls, toads, spiders, crows, etc..
- Check out the chemical reactions you can create when you make “potions”
- This one takes a bit of advanced planning, but carve a pumpkin with your class, early in the month, and then have them be scientists to observe and take notes on the decomposing pumpkin over the course of the month.
- When you invite your parents into the classroom for the party, give them activities and/or stations to help students with. I always had an art project going on during my “party” time and had parents walking around as an extra set of hands to help students. Paper weaving Jack-o-lanterns were always a fun go-to!
- Finally, don’t forget the music. This is key, we had a rule during my Halloween parties…if I couldn’t hear the music then we needed to turn our voices down a bit. Here is a fun, kid-friendly Spotify playlist for you.
I hope you enjoy my tips and tricks for a successful Halloween party that you can enjoy! Please reach out if you have any questions or would like more assistance in planning your first classroom party of the year!
Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning