Taming the Monsters on Halloween -- Party Tips

By Brent Vasicek on October 17, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5

With the excitement of Halloween, those relatively tame creatures in your class will soon turn into Gremlins. What are you going to do to spice up their Halloween? And how can you take it to the 212th degree and make it educational? Below are some quick ways to organize a Halloween celebration for a variety of grade levels.

 

Decorations/Crafts

If you are looking to quickly transform a hallway, bulletin board, or blank classroom wall into a Halloween scene, try searching "scene setters" on the Internet or visit your local party store. A scene setter is a preprinted plastic roll about 50 feet long and four feet tall. It costs about $20. Stored correctly, it can be used year after year.

For more elaborate, student-centereddecorations, check out a video demonstration by 2nd grade teacher Nancy Jang of how to make 3-D pumpkins with construction paper.

Interactive WhiteboardHalloween Games

Pull these games up on your IWB to add some decor to the room and to keep the goblins entertained while you are helping find lost wigs or clown shoes. Use the Websites as a centerfor younger grades, or as an end-of-the-hour activity for high schoolstudents. Pass out a piece of chocolate with each win, and your students will love you.

Offline Games

  • Wright Story (K–12) —My students love playing this game. Buy a few prizes in advance. I usually pick one of the dollar deal books from a Scholastic catalog to keep it educational. In a pinch you can use some candy. Have the students gather in two or three large circles. Give a prize to one person in each circle. As you read the story, the prize is passed to the left whenever "left" is said and to the right whenever "right" or "Wright" is said. The person holding the prize at the end gets to keep it. For added challenge in middle and high school, try multiple prizes in one circle and speed up the story.
  • Penny Pumpkin (K–12) —Challenge those reluctant high school athletes to show their stuff by having them toss pennies into a carved pumpkin. You can divide your class into as many teams as you have pumpkins. Give each team 20 pennies to toss from a predetermined line. To make it educational, calculate mean, median, mode, range, and percents. If you don't have pumpkins, any container will do, but slap a Halloween sticker on it so it fits the theme.
  • Fashion Mummy (K–6) —Buy some bulk toilet paper and have the students work in teams of about fiveto wrap another student completely. The goal is to create the most fashionable mummy.

Halloween Reads

There are wonderful Halloween books out there for all grade levels. Some of my favorites include:

Halloween Parade (K–2)
Halloween Fraidy-Cat (3–5)

How to Drive Your Family Crazy on Halloween (3–5)

Patrick Carman's Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine(5–10)

Halloween Night (9–12)

Student-Planned Parties

I have the students plan their own party. This serves three purposes: (1) It allows students to learn some organizational and time budgeting skills. (2) It's easier for me. (3) If the students have any complaints, then they must take ownership of them.

I have about half the class sign up for committees, which include the food/beverage committee, the game/prize committee, and the decorations committee. I explain the parameters, which are:

  • Time for party: 35 minutes (including clean up).
  • Food: One healthy item choice (fruit, veggie, cheese tray), one non-healthy choice (cupcakes, cookies, donuts), and one drink.
  • Finance: In-kind donations only! This includes cups, plates, napkins, prizes, and anything else required at the party.
  • Decorations: Can be put up in the room two weeks before the party. They cannot be noisy decorations or so large that they prevent learning.
  • Miscellaneous: Other donations can be non-edible items (stickers, pencils, etc.)

Sometimes the Halloween party is a disaster, but we use that as a learning opportunity. The December holiday party rarely fails because of what the students learn from the October party. For more information, you can visit my Student Planned Parties post from last year.

What are some of your favorite Halloween tips?

Trick or treat,

Brent

www.mrvasicek.com

2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek's classroom.

 

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