This post was originally published in 2016. I think it’s a fitting time of year to bring it back.
We all have things that scare us, of course. In the book that my 5th grade gifted students are reading, The Giver, the main character is “apprehensive” about an upcoming event. To help the students connect to the text, I asked them to list some of the things that worry or scare them. Using our green screen and the Green Screen app by DoInk, I had the students superimpose themselves on the image of Edvard Munch’s, The Scream. The students then used the WordFotoapp to add their specific fears to the picture. Here is one result. (You can click on it to see a larger view.)
When I looked closely at this student’s final product, I noticed the word, “division.” I was a little upset because I had told the students not to put silly things just to get a laugh. In my mind, division and multiplication would fall into that category, especially since this particular student has never had any problems achieving well in math.
“Why did you put this word when I told you not to put something silly?” I asked him as I pointed at his picture.
He looked at me solemnly. “I meant the division of people. You know, how war and other things divide us.”
Warning: Once you do any kind of BreakoutEdu game in your class, your students will beg you for more. On my first day back with my 5th grade GT class this year, the most pressing question they had was, “Are we going to do another BreakoutEdu game today?” (We didn’t – but only because I don’t like to be quite that predictable.)
BreakoutEdu often provides games around holiday themes, and Halloween is no exception. You can find their list of 8 Halloween games, suited for different ages and group sizes, here. Remember, you will need to register, for free, in order to receive the password that gives you full access to the games, set-up instructions, and printables.
If you teach in a non-Halloween classroom, or just want to add even more fun and hijinks to the learning, here is a page of Global Read Aloud themed games from BreakoutEdu. Or, just go down that rabbit hole, and start on this page, which has all of the categories of games that you could possibly need.
Rachel Lynette, over at the “Minds in Bloom” blog, offers some fun Halloween activities for critical thinking. One of them is a Halloween-themed list of “Would You Rather?” questions. For these, I would recommend that you encourage your students to justify their answers, and possibly have a contest for who can give the most unusual reason for his or her response. (For another way to use “Would You Rather?” questions, check out this post.)
Rachel also has a free “GHOST” Scattergories-type game that you can print. As an extension, you could have the students make their own spooky versions by changing the letters on top and the categories.
And, finally, incorporate some disgusting math into your Halloween plans by giving your students some “Witches’ Brew Math.” Boiled eyeballs, anyone?
The Hopscotch app (iOS only) has long been a favorite for my student coders. They have lots of tutorials, and the students who participate in a couple of those often ask if they can code their own projects after learning the basics. If you have some iPads in your classroom, you may want to let some or all of your class try the “Carve a Pumpkin with Hopscotch” tutorial.
It’s best if you can allow pairs of students work at their own pace, rather than try to keep the whole class on the same steps at the same time. Keep in mind that the app has been updated a couple of times since this tutorial was made, so some of the tools may be slightly different.
As if American politics aren’t scary enough, the United States celebrates Halloween next Monday, which is all kind of wrong – because spending a day with students who can’t wait to trick-or-treat plus 4 more days after they fill up on sugary candy should not be required of any teacher if you are at all interested in helping him or her maintain a semblance of sanity.
The president I would vote for would resolve to make Halloween on a Saturday for the rest of eternity, but so far I haven’t seen that mentioned in anyone’s campaign.
For those of you who are in the same boat (or should I say, riding the same broom?), here are some resources I’ve collected in the past that might help to briefly engage your students in something other than daydreaming about all of the candy they will need to confess to eating at their next dental appointment:
YummyMath offers 13 Spooky October activities. One that looks like fun to do with older students (depending on their math prowess, probably 4th-8th grades) is the “Cheap-otle” lesson. Chipotle is apparently offering to sell $3 “Boo-ritos” to anyone who comes in after 5 PM on 10/31/15 wearing a costume with something unnecessary added. The proceeds, up to one million dollars, will be donated to a charity.
YummyMath’s Cheap-otle lesson asks students to use math to figure out how likely it will be for Chipotle to reach that $1,000,000 mark. A printable handout is provided.
The commercial included in the lesson is pretty fun – but definitely not appropriate for elementary students as the “H” word is used. You can also view some “Unneces-scary” examples here.
I have a third grade student who brings a pad of sudoku puzzles out to recess each day. Any time there is a possible treat on the horizon, some of my second graders call out, “Can it be a sudoku puzzle?”
So if, like my students, yours also love these logic puzzles, here is a Halloween Sudoku you could try this week. It could be fun whole-class on an interactive white board, or as a station. Be sure to click on the settings gear on the bottom right corner, so you can choose the appropriate level. Something that I like about this particular site is that, once you finish, you are given another challenge – so it’s not just a one-shot deal.
For more digital activities with an October theme, check out Laura Moore’s amazing Listly that includes some spooky magnetic poetry and more!