While I love incorporating podcasts in the classroom all year long, they are especially fun during spooky season! Humans have been telling spooky stories since the beginning of time, and I think podcasts provide the perfect modern media to continue this literacy tradition! If you are ready to prick the ears and engage the minds of your students this Halloween season, here are my top spooky podcast episodes for the ELA classroom!
Spooky Podcast Episodes for the ELA Classroom:
When educators ask me for podcast recommendations for the classroom, I say that it really depends on the learning goals they have in mind. Yet, if I’m being honest, I normally find a super engaging podcast then figure out how to adapt it to ELA standards, ha! For example, I fell in LOVE with the Dolly Parton’s America podcast and spent all summer brainstorming how I could harness its brilliance for classroom use. You can see the result here! However, unless you listen to as many podcasts as I do, it’s difficult to find engaging podcasts for the classroom plus match them with a standard. Therefore, I’ve organized this post with learning GHOULS in mind, so put in your eyeballs, pour yourself some pumpkin juice, and become bewitched by these spooky podcast episodes!
Learning Goal: Persuasive Prompts
Though this list is organized by learning goal rather than rank, I will start with my favorite episode recommendation for the ELA classroom! Criminal Podcast is a perfect starter podcast because the episodes are are short and the reporting is thought-provoking. While several of their stories work for different learning goals, the best podcast episode for the spooky season is episode 145 “How to Sell a Haunted House.” I chose this one over another spooky favorite of theirs “Bump in the Night” because it makes for a fantastic argumentative mini lesson and prompt! To keep students focused, I created some spooky podcast pages for students to color while they listen. They work like a charm, and you can download them for free here!
Update: To make this Halloween podcast lesson even more dynamic, you can pair the haunted house episode with the poem “Haunted Houses” by Longfellow. Since I live in an old house (early 1800s!), this poem really speaks to me and couples beautifully with the podcast! I added it to my collection of podcast and poetry pairings, and you can find it here: Poetry and Podcast Pairings : Activities for teaching podcasts and poems
The Supernatural Podcast adds a splash of conspiracy to researched unusual happenings around the world. An especially creepy episode to listen to in ELA class is episode 32 “Mystical: King Tut’s Curse” because not only does it provide a nice persuasive prompt on the topic of disturbing the dead, but it also includes a cameo of a well-known literature classic, Sir Arthur Doyle. *Please note that this episode does mention death by suicide.
Update: For a similar cursed topic with a less conspiratorial tone, check out “The Curse of the Hope Diamond” by Smithsonian Sidedoor Podcast . I recently discovered this podcast, and love that the episodes are short and informational yet entertaining all at the same time! Another Halloween themed podcast episode from their collection would be: “The Mystery Bones of Witch Hill” which provides another talking point for the argument of unearthing the dead for scientific purposes.
Be sure to check out my podcast pages for any podcast! These worksheets help you plan academic learning goals for podcasts in the ELA classroom!
Learning Goals: Narrative Mentor Texts
The Lore podcast is a favorite among English teachers and for good reason! It is a podcast that explores the frightening history behind common folklore. According to the site, “each episode examines historical events that show the dark side of human nature and is presented in a style that’s been compared to a campfire experience.” While there are hundreds of episodes to choose from, I chose “Bones” specifically because I use it as a pairing for The Canterbury Tales. Adding a world lens (my theme this year), “Bones” compares the feudal systems within English and Japanese cultures while also giving some chilling folklore details along the way. *Please note that this episode does mention death by suicide. You can also check out this list for the best Lore episodes according to Ranker!
If you want to learn more about how I pair podcasts with texts, check out this blog post: Podcasts Pairings for the Secondary ELA Classroom: Podcasts to use in English Class or find a fun and informative podcast pairing for “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe here: 5 Activity Ideas for Teaching “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
The next spooky podcast episode recommendation I have for you is from the Spooked podcast. This podcast is by a favorite podcaster of mine who you can learn more about in this post: A Black History Month for the Books: Celebrating Black Excellence in ELA , but the truth is I wasn’t going to put this one on the student podcast list because it is SERIOUSLY SCARY. However, after recommending it on my Instagram as a cautionary English teacher tale, I had several educators reply that they were going to play it for their students on Halloween. Regardless, please preview this one. It doesn’t have any language or sexual content at all, but the story is set inside a school and is extremely SPOOKY. Listen if you dare here: Teacher’s Pet
That being said, I have played another Spooked podcast episode (The Night Whistler) for my students and they loved it. Admittedly, I had to stretch to pair it with Macbeth (emotional ghosts), but it turned out to be so fun and I have no regrets!
You can see how I set the stage to engage here:
Here are some articles you can pair with a good ghost story:
Update: Another ghost story that may be of special interest to ELA teachers is “E63: MYSTICAL: Patience Worth” on the Supernatural Podcast. As the legend goes, Patience Worth is an acclaimed author… who just happens to be a ghost.
If you want an different kind of ghost story, I highly recommend another from the Smithsonian Sidedoor podcast, and you can read all about it in this post: Diverse Short Stories for Spooky Season
Learning Goal: Explanatory/ Informational Text
Science Vs is one of my favorite sources for teaching informational text. It’s entertaining and educational! While the “Ghosts” episode is a perfect spooky podcast episode, the downside is that it’s on the longer end at 50 minutes. However, it is a great episode to explore the science of if ghosts could really exist so I’m adding it here! P.S. If you are into the science of ghosts, I highly recommend the book Spook: Science tackles the afterlife by Mary Roach (affiliate link). For one, the cover is perfection, two you get to nerd out on some creepy nonfiction, and three, students will want to borrow this one when you are finished! Even though it’s informational text, it flew off my shelf!
For more spooky season ELA ideas, check out this post: Halloween Lesson Plans for Middle School and High School ELA
Lastly, for another informational text podcast, I recommend episode 5 of the Overheard at National Geographic podcast “The Zombie Mice of Marion Island.” Just like the magazine, I think this podcast is FANTASTIC. And, it’s FREE! The episodes are always interesting, unique, and engaging. There are actually several that could be used as a spooky podcast episode, but I went with this one for its specific tie in to The Walking Dead.
I hope these spooky podcast recommendations help you concoct a spellbinding lesson plan for your ELA students this Halloween! Remember, if you want to keep them hypnotized while listening, try out these spooky podcast pages!