Break away from the same old plastic masks and gooey candy with one or more of these terrific ideas gleaned from the Teachers.Net Mailrings!
Regular Feature in the Gazette
October 1, 2008
Teachers.Net turned to the vast community of educators on the Mailring network asking them to share ideas for alternatives to Halloween costume parades and parties. Responses flowed through the email groups - unique and exciting ideas developed by teachers in many locations and at various grade levels. We’ve copied some of them here; they are also preserved in the mailring archives.
Please use the Discussion forum linked on this page to share what your school does during the Halloween season.
Our elementary school celebrates it as a "career" day; dress up like what you want to be when you grow up.
Kuehne Stacey on Third Grade Mailring
At my school, we do a Storybook Parade near Halloween. Classes can dress up as characters or themes from a class chosen book or individual’s favorite books. Last year, everyone in my class dressed up as pirates, or Jack or Annie from the Magic Tree House Series. Another teacher was doing an invention unit and had the kids dress up as famous inventors. I've even seen Strega Nona bowls of pasta (posterboard sandwiches with yellow string glued to it).
Erin West, Okinawa, Japan, on First Grade Mailring
We have Mad Scientist Day. We dress up as mad scientists, break up into teacher and parent led groups, and do experiments all day. The kids love it. We (teachers) visit the K, 1, 2 classes all dressed up and promote the day. The kids can't wait for 3rd grade. Fun and educational!
Beth Walewski on Third Grade Mailring
Based on an article that appeared in the October, 2007 issue of Instructor Magazine and Debra Fraisers book, Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster, our school adopted the idea of dressing up as one's favorite, interesting vocabulary word on October 31st. Prior to that, only the lower grades were permitted to come to school on Halloween in costume. Now everyone, from the principal to the kitchen staff, learn new vocabulary words, on Vocabulary Day.
Marlene R. Grefig PS 159Q New York on Fourth Grade Mailring
Similar to career day we've done:
Dress as who you want to be when you grow up day
Dress as your hero day
Book character day.
Karen Tellez on Second Grade Mailring
We don't do it at the current school that I am at, but in a former school where I taught we used to do a favorite book or character day. Each class would decide on their favorite book and then decide how to dress up to show that book. The middle school band would come over and we would be their first performance for the year. They would block off the one block outside school where the bus drive was and the classes would stand on either side of the street until it was their turn to be the featured book in the parade, great fun! Then they would scoot over to the bus drive and come around in front of all of us. Some of the teachers dressed up. One year four of us did Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks kept hiding in the crowd and the bears would go looking for her. Then the next year we did Nursery rhymes, two of us were the cow that jumped over the moon-we laughed so hard and the kids loved it.
Kdavybear on Third Grade Mailring
Some of the primary classes have harvest parties that are centered around farming and fall.
Lelafitzne on First Grade Mailring
Our school did "Hallow Words." The students chose words (most classes chose a theme) and decorated hats to represent the word. My class chose candy: students chose candy corn, candy apple, snickers, chocolate chip cookie, etc. We then had a parade around the neighborhood. It was used to build vocabulary.
Sandy, Clinton, SC on Second Grade Mailring
We study nocturnal animals and the phases of the moon during the month of October. It ends with a classroom camp out at the end of Oct. as a culminating activity. We bring sleeping bags to sit on in class. Read camp theme math stories to act out, read stories about the night, share mini animal report about nocturnal animals, make and eat s'mores, sing and learn about the phases of the moon, cover windows with black paper with a tissue moon cut out... kids usually say its the best day ever!
Claire in Ct. on First Grade Mailring
The first grades in my school celebrate "Halloween" with a Fall Festival; the students do not dress up, but are welcome to wear orange and black and they make fall pattern headbands on arrival; we organize centers for about an hour and 40 minutes in the morning (each center lasts about 20 minutes); they make graphs at one, play a 'scarecrow' math game at another; roll marbles in white paint on black paper for spider webs and build paper spiders; build paper skeletons by rolling dice for body parts at another; this takes care of the entire morning; we have lunch/recess and our specialist time; then a special snack and story; A 'magic potion' is made (homemade playdoh with orange 'koolaid' packets wrapped in silver paper--the magic ingredient'; they get to use the play-doh for measuring activities and everyone takes home a small bag of it.
Betty in MA on First Grade Mailring
Our school has several families that for many reasons do not celebrate Halloween. We have had a Fall Festival for the past several years. Each teacher is responsible for a 'fall' activity. The students rotate from room to room, doing each activity. One of us does a scarecrow. One reads Stellaluna and does a bat activity. One will do an activity with pumpkins or apples. We usually show a video and let them have popcorn and cider. The parent organization helps us put this event together. Each year we come up with different activities, but of course, some of us have our favorites. Parents and other groups make up goodie bags for the kids to take home. We stress that everything must be Fall related, but not related to Halloween. The kids love it.
Mary L. Petro, Michigan, on Second Grade Mailring
In first grade we do Fall Fun Day instead of Halloween. Each teacher picks a subject and a standard and teaches a fun active lesson and the classes rotate all day long to a different room for the activity. Usually, we have a little Halloween decorations thrown in. One activity we do is make edible spiders. I do a word walk like a cake walk and play spooky music. Some of the teachers make a craft or do a language lesson such as Fall word bingo that they connect to a story. Every year it is different. We make it special and no costumes. Math activities go on like addition with candy corn or sorting candy items after reading Harriet's Halloween. It is a fun and special day.
Connier on First Grade Mailring
Our school participates in a school wide Sock Hop. During the weeks leading to Halloween, our gym coaches teach physical activity using various dances the kids can complete. From the Cha-Cha Slide to the Hokey Pokey, our kids learn 4-5 dances. Then on Halloween, we all dress in our Sock Hop Dress and the fun begins! Our kids absolutely love it!
Juliane Cornelius on Fourth Grade Mailring
I have been at the same school for 9 years, and our practices have definitely changed since my first year here. There was always a whole school costume parade at the end of the day for my 1st 4-5 years. However, as costumes for the older kids became more graphic, we had to eliminate this parade since some of the K's were scared.(We are a K-5 school). Now, we focus more on harvest activities as a class or as a grade level--door contests are popular! We also have a school Fall Carnival the Sat. before Halloween at our site. Parents, teachers, kids - lots of volunteers help make it a sucess... We have games, contests, food, candy and many booths for entertainment. Money raised is split between all our classes. Safe fun for all!
Joan Day on Fifth Grade Mailring
We celebrate Halloween by dressing like a famous person and share three things about the person that we represent so that others try to guess if our costume is not so obvious. For example, for me, as a Spanish teacher from Mexico, a good costume would be Frida Kahlo. Another teacher will be Christopher Columbus and a student will be Helen Keller. Best luck celebrating Halloween.
Andrea on Middle School Mailring
I've been at my school for 11 years and we have never had the kids dress up as anything. Most teachers do some sort of fall related activities although there's not much "Fall" in S.W. Florida at that time. It's up to the teacher. I usually do some sort of graphing activities with candy or Halloween sort of icons and if I can get parents to donate pumpkins, we estimate, weigh, and then carve the pumpkins.
Debbie on Second Grade Mailring
We do not do anything "Halloween" during the day because of parent complaints (religious beliefs)... so we do a Fall Fest. Whole school participates in fun activities. A few of the activities are for charity - we make sandwiches that go to a soup kitchen; we have a pumpkin judging contest and the kids have the pay 10 cents per vote and the money goes to UNICEF. Fun for the kids - very long day for the teachers. Kristin on Second Grade Mailring
Don’t miss out on any more ideas and peer support! Sign up now for one or more of more than 100 Teachers.Net mailrings… Always free! All posts archived!
Search the Teachers.Net Lesson Bank for additional ideas and activities, plugging in key words such as harvest, autumn, seasons, holidays, or any subject you and your students are studying throughout the year. While you’re there, be sure to share your best lessons and activities!