Middle school Halloween activities do not need to be boring. We can still celebrate this fun day with middle school students. Don’t get me wrong, Halloween costumes can be fun. The opportunity to be someone you are not – be it a sparkly fairy, evil vampire queen, or something totally different has a pull that few can resist. I have written two blog posts to help teachers think of school-appropriate Halloween costumes.
- Halloween Costumes for English Teachers (includes 21 costume ideas!)
- 10 Halloween Costume Ideas For English Teachers
But as fun as costumes can be, they often offer little in the way of educational opportunities. Yet with the draw of Halloween being so universally strong, it would be a pity to pass up the opportunity to tap into this holiday’s energy.
While you may have your own ideas and activities to use with your students, I want to introduce you to five middle school Halloween activities that I have created that have been used with great success on this spooktacular occasion.
What is Halloween, and why is it celebrated?
In my Halloween non-fiction article, I dive into the history and origins of Halloween and trick-or-treating. As most people know, Halloween falls on October 31st every year and is a time for children (and even adults) to dress up in costumes to go door to door, asking for candy. Some schools even have Halloween parties, costume parades, and more.
But did you know that Halloween could have been started as the Celtic celebration Samhain to recognize the one day of the year when the line between the living and the dead is the thinnest? Or that it has been argued that Halloween evolved from All Saints’ Day on November 1st, a Christian festival that honours the saints?
Halloween not only has an interesting history, but it is also a great opportunity to look into how the holiday has evolved over the years.
What are some Halloween traditions?
Halloween comes with many traditions, the most notable being children dressing up and going out trick-or-treating. But there are other traditions that have been notable throughout the years:
- Carving pumpkins: I’m sure you’ve noticed that when October comes around, the grocery stores are brimming with pumpkins! People love to carve pumpkins when Halloween is near and place them in their windows and on their doorsteps, usually with a candle inside to illuminate the carving.
- Apple bobbing: Interestingly enough, apple bobbing was never started as a Halloween tradition. Instead, it was a game to find potential love interests! Throughout the years, though, it has since been appropriated to Halloween and is a popular party game (although, most likely, not a common tradition since the pandemic.).
- Decorating: Most teachers love to decorate their classrooms for the seasons, and Halloween is no exception! It’s a great time to hang cobwebs with fake spiders, garlands of fall leaves, and maybe even paper witches, ghosts, and skeletons. It can be a great time to bust out the Halloween-themed pictures in art class, as well!
- Haunted Houses: These have grown in popularity over the years, ranging from the tame to the extremely scary. Haunted houses can be a lot of fun so long as you keep them safe and everyone knows what to expect. The same goes for scary movies at Halloween – they come in many variations in terms of scares, and there are definitely some fun ones that you can use in the classroom during this time of year.
These are just some of the traditions that are associated with Halloween. There are so many others that can be fun to research with your students.
How can I celebrate Halloween in the classroom?
There are so many ways you can celebrate Halloween in the middle school classroom.
- Read books – there are a lot of fun Halloween books your students will love, from picture books to chapter books.
- Watch the Thriller music video (depending on the age of your students) and learn how to do the Thriller Dance.
- Play Halloween Bingo.
- Have students complete some adult colouring sheets.
- Do your students love Halloween candy? Spark a debate on the best and the worst Halloween candy out there with this article on the 8 worst Halloween candies.
- Not allowed to celebrate Halloween at your school? You can still bring mystery and excitement into your classroom with these mystery non-fiction articles.
- The Loch Ness Monster – Have your students ever heard of the Loch Ness Monster? Learn about the history and mystery behind the Loch Ness Monster with this non-fiction article.
- The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart – The mystery of what happened to famous pilot Amelia Earhart is ongoing today. Learn more about it with this non-fiction article.
- Have a fun look into the history of Halloween in the video Halloween History – Behind the News.
- Have a look at some very cool Halloween pumpkins in this CBC Kids article.
- Halloween might be fun and games where you live, but did you know some places have very strict laws regarding the holiday? The article, 7 super strict Halloween laws from around the world, shares some Halloween rules you might never have known about.
- Your students might already be aware of the rules regarding safety when Halloween comes around, but it can never hurt to refresh them on Halloween safety.
- With Halloween comes a lot of candy! This is the perfect time to dive into the Effects of Sugar sub plan to see what happens to the body when it consumes sugar.
No Prep Middle School Halloween Activities
Halloween Non-Fiction Article
The ability to read and internalize nonfiction is an important skill and one that is significantly emphasized in many standards. And while nonfiction often gets a bad rap as dull or dry, there is no reason it has to be this way.
This Halloween Non-Fiction Article and related activities look at the history of Halloween and some current and historical traditions for this popular holiday. It is a great way to use nonfiction in a fun and timely manner. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
Halloween Creative Writing
Creative writing is another enjoyable way to tap into the educational opportunities Halloween offers. While asking your students to do something like writing a ghost story or a spooky tale, this print-and-go option not only provides students with a choice-filled framework to get them going but also gives you two different grading rubrics to use as you assess student work. Use this Halloween Creative Writing Assignment to keep students focused during this exciting season. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
Halloween Digital Escape Room
Escape rooms are a popular activity these days. This Halloween Digital Escape Room not only taps into the natural draw of Halloween, but it also pulls students in through the use of game playing and technology—a trifecta to be sure. By having students work independently or with their peers to solve ten Halloween-focused challenges and escape the haunted house, students are practicing multiple language arts skills while playing a fun and engaging game. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
Halloween Stores Podcast Lesson
Teachers are provided with an engaging listening comprehension lesson based on a podcast segment about how Halloween-specific stores are profitable even though they are only open for a few months of the year. Podcasts are a great medium to share and use with students. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
Looking for a week of middle school Halloween activities?
This engaging Halloween Unit contains 5 different lesson activities that will help reinforce your students’ reading and writing skills. Students will learn about the historical background of Halloween traditions and prepare for a Halloween discussion about current Halloween customs. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
- Lesson 1: History of Halloween Video & Readings
- Lesson 2: Halloween Opinion Writing
- Lesson 3: Halloween Opinion Fishbowl Discussion & Paragraph Assignment
- Lesson 4: Halloween Around the World Reading
- Lesson 5: Halloween Creative Writing Assignment
Books to Celebrate Halloween
As with all holidays, picture books are a great way to dive into the background of the holiday. These books are perfect for helping students learn more about Halloween in a fun and engaging way.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Spooky by Jory John and Pete Oswald – Bad Seed loves Halloween. In this book, Bad Seed is on a mission to find the best Halloween costume – even if he has to postpone trick-or-treating to do so.
- Pig the Monster by Aaron Blabey – From the author of the popular series, The Bad Guys, this story is all about Pig the Pug, who wants to find treats on Halloween.
If you’re looking for even more Halloween-themed books for your middle schoolers, check out some of these lists:
- 20 Wonderful Middle-Grade Halloween Books
- The Best Halloween Books for Upper Elementary & Middle School Readers
- 35 Scary (And Not-So-Scary) Middle-Grade Books To Get Readers In The Halloween Spirit
- 11 Spooky Halloween Read Alouds For Middle School
Halloween in school can easily descend into candy – and costume-fueled chaos. By encouraging fun activities that have a specific educational bent to them, you can channel the positive, natural engagement that this holiday offers into something other than a headache and wasted day.
Whether you decide to use these sorts of activities on just the holiday itself or for several days leading up to the holiday, don’t miss this great educational opportunity with these middle school Halloween activities.