Fall-themed worksheets, spooky season lesson plans, or Halloween ELA activities, whatever you call your October lessons, you can make them both festive and educational for middle school and high school students!
Here are a few of my favorite fall and Halloween ELA activities that are fun enough to spice up your spooky season and academic enough to where you wouldn’t be aghast if administration walked during the lesson. 😉
Since I hate messing up my normal flow of lessons, these activities can be done with ANY piece of literature; this means you can use these Halloween ELA activities no matter where you are in your curriculum when Halloween rolls around!
Create Paper Ghosts
One of my post popular ideas is using old dictionaries to make get-to-know-you banners for the first day of school. Teachers love this because it builds community and provides cheap classroom décor. For a spooky take on this fun craftivity, create paper ghosts!
Here are some ideas for this Halloween ELA activity:
- Find a word that lifts your spirits (community building)
- Find a new word that you want to bring to life (vocabulary building)
- Create a spooky blackout poem (click here to learn how to make this more rigorous)
- Create a spooky found poem (word choice)
Practice Creepy Root Words
I find etymology fascinating and when you add some creepy vibes to the mix, hopefully your students will too! To help, made a simple handout with coffins and creepy root words like “mort,” “crypt,” and “corp.” Students are to “unearth” words that stem from these roots. Next, they use the words to write a short story setting. If you want to take this Halloween ELA activity further, you can play the story game where you choose the best setting to start a story then go around the room and each student has to add one line to progress the plot. For an academic spin, they must incorporate a new vocabulary word into the story!
You can get this free handout by signing up for my Building Book Love Letter here:
Make Symbolism Pumpkins for ANY text!
Have students think critically about symbols and color connotations by designing a pumpkin for a character or author. They will use evidence from the text to prove their choices, so this Halloween ELA activity is both creative and rigorous!
Click here to download this fall-themed lesson plan : Painted Pumpkin Symbolism and Halloween Writing
As students are working on their Halloween ELA activity, play some festive ambience like this Halloween Cafe Ambience
As I write in our book Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning, ambient media is the perfect tool to create instant room transformations! There are tons of spooky themed ambient scenes on YouTube that will enhance any ELA Halloween activity from this list!
Hunt Frightful Figurative Language
These creepy literary device posters make fantastic mentor texts and decorations! I recently updated this set to include diverse authors, posters in color, a spooky show vs tell activity, and a figurative language PPT that can serve as a gallery walk. If you want to see an example of this, look at my love-themed version under number 8 here: Valentines gallery walk and scavenger hunt
You can download the spooky version here: Halloween Literary Device Posters: Frightful Figurative Language
Listen to a Ghastly Podcast
Spooky season is the perfect time to try out podcasts in the classroom! Last year we were right in the middle of Macbeth, so I set up a mini classroom transformation by adding finger lights to each table and projecting a creepy scene. I came up with some essential questions about ghosts in literature (we had just finished the Banquo’s ghost scene) and then students read articles about why ghosts occur in books. We then listened to an episode of the Spooked podcast and continued our discussion on scary stories. It was SUCH a fun day that lingered in their memories for the rest of the semester!
You can read all about it here as well as check out other spooky season podcast recommendations:
Sneak in Halloween Test Prep
Sneak in a little test prep by doing a history of Halloween informational text close reading.
Students will closely read about the history of Halloween masks, do test prep questions, create a personalized mask, and then do a Halloween writing prompt.
(Use digitally or print!)
Act Out Scenes
Tap into students’ desire to dress up for Halloween by acting out scenes from any story, book, or play. Any time students get the chance to put on silly costumes or props, they love it! This is my go-to activity for when my class starts feeling stale because it can be done on a whim (just have students make costumes using paper and items from your room), requires productive group work, and makes students read independently! The key to this assignment is to make sure groups have a small, but important section to read then act out in ONE class period. If you give them until the next day, it’s inevitable that a group member will be absent and their play will be “ruined.” Plus, putting a pressing time frame on this assignment really brings out their creativity! Students can use cell phone lights, music, and random items from your classroom to act out their play.
If you want a no-prep way to bring your text to life through mini plays, you can find my assignment here which includes task cards for each group member and emoji critique cards.
Erect an Eerie Mural
When we had our Keeping the Wonder Workshop at the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA, creating a raven feather mural was such a hit that I decided to adapt it for classroom use. This raven feather mural makes an obvious pairing and activity for “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, and not only provides students an opportunity to engage with the text, but also creates a collaborative raven feather mural that makes a perfect POE-to opt for your students after a successful reading of “The Raven.”
You can read more about teaching “The Raven” in this post: 5 Activity Ideas for Teaching “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe or grab your mural template here: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Activity: Raven Feather Mural and Writing
Wear a Spooky Boooish Shirt
If you can’t tell by this post, I love spooky season! Each year I design an ELA teacher t-shirt for charity to celebrate. You can find all my spooky shirt designs here: Building Book Love Shirts for Charity
I hope that this post has given you lots of Halloween ELA activity ideas for your middle school and high school students! Happy fall, ya’ll!