Case Studies 2024


Forums / Elementary Science / Halloween Leesson Plans

Elementary Science

Halloween Leesson Plans

Author Post
Ashley Claure Ashley Claure 355 Points

Hello all. I just wanted to share a few fun lesson plans I came across. Since Halloween is right around the corner I thought some of you may be interested in using them. Enjoy!

Royce Jeffrey Royce Jeffrey 485 Points

I've got to try the alienade. I really like the sugar idea, but when I read it, I thought that the students would have a lot of different products and some kind of sugar tester (like a litmus test, or a ph tester that you place in a hot tub or spa) that they would use on the different products instead of just reading the ingredients after making predictions. The pumpkin seeds are always tasty, but could there be some sort of lesson implemented other than just how to cook pumpkin seeds? Thanks for the ideas and for posting, RJ

Kathleen Chachich Kathleen Chachich 2825 Points

Do you find that using holiday themed lessons make students more interested in learning? From my reading class they talked about the difference in reading for information and reading for experience. When reading for experience the students are engaged and crave to know more. I feel like tying things to something fun like a holiday might make give them that experience rather than just information. Do you agree/ have you seen this to be the case? Although I do worry that with more and more diversity there will be people who do not celebrate certain holidays so they may miss out on the experience connected with it. I had a friend in elementary school who did not celebrate Halloween and her mother was very against having her participate Halloween activities. Also, with the diversity increasing, if we are not careful to include all kinds of holidays some students will feel alienated.

Kathryn Kennedy Kathryn Kennedy 9055 Points

I've actually never done holiday focused events for the very reason of having a diverse classroom and mistakenly offending a student and their family's religion. However, on the other side, what a wonderful time to talk about the different holidays that another family celebrates and bring those into the classroom. This can lead to discussions of how science is done in that child's culture (my students are mainly Hmong and the majority of them believe in Shamanism. Actually, a few of my students have been chosen to be Shamans.) I'd be curious to hear how other teachers incorporate holiday lessons and make sure to not offend individuals in and outside of the classroom.

Taylor Donahue Taylor Donahue 765 Points

I love these holiday ideas. I went to a private school and we did not acknowledge Halloween so I think this sound like fun. I was wondering how your schools deal with food in the classroom like in the experiments? I have heard a lot of Professors say that food incorporated in lessons is kind of a touchy subject now, especially with allergies on the rise and the liability of the school if something happens. In my Social Studies Education class we could not even make pine cone bird feeders with peanut butter anymore we had to use shortening. It made the activity not nearly as fun and I had to wonder what the shortening would do to the birds. I personally would love to have lessons involving food they are engaging and usually peak the students interests. Have any of you had problems with food in the classroom?

Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

Hi thread participants, I think these lesson ideas are great! Royce, I'm glad you highlighted the opportunity to extend the alienade activity to test the acidity. Another idea is to use a natural pH indicator like red cabbage extract. Depending on which grade level you are teaching, you could also incorporate the acidity lesson into a lesson about acid rain and its effect on different types of rock. Using sandwich bags and and different rock samples (chalk, marble chips and quartz chips) students test the effect of acid (vinegar) on different rock samples. Also, if you are doing this activity at the elementary level, you could extend the pumpkin seeds by making sandwich bag germinators. The activity could include talking about the parts of plants, the requirements for seeds to germinate, etc. Kathleen, I've found that anytime I can make learning relevant to my students, they do tend to be more interested in learning. By tying lessons to another subject (such as reading or history) or a season, my students are able to see how the information they learn in science ties into other parts of their lives. Halloween can be a tricky (pun intended :) ) since many people do not celebrate this holiday. One way to present Halloween themed lessons without offending anyone is to frame them in the context of "fall" instead of halloween. Taylor, you brought up a great point! Since many students have food allergies, we do need to be very careful. I know many districts only allow store bought food in classrooms so the teacher can read the ingredients (to verify there isn't anything that might trigger an allergic reaction). I think the food restrictions that you are running into in your district are probably similar to most districts across the country. Maureen

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

hello to all of you who are posting such great ideas on Halloween science to share with your peers I just wanted you to know that there is also a Halloween thread in the General Science and Teaching Forum :} Please check it out and share there, too. Thanks a bunch.... ~patty

Andrea Godsill Andrea Godsill 1670 Points

Hi, I do a pumpkin unit near Halloween but with no Halloween theme attached. We measure circumference, weigh, sink/float, estimate the number of seeds, and finally cook and eat the pumpkin and seeds. The kids love it every year. I love their faces when the giant pumpkin that they are all expecting to sink...floats! Last year we had about 10 seeds inside the pumpkin that were growing roots. We planted them and branched into a garden unit with our pumpkin plants...until the plants died. Just thought I'd share.

Victoria Cornelius Victoria Cornelius 415 Points

This is a great idea! Kids learn best when having an activity to remember it by. I think in Elementary Schools they encourage kids to have fun and learn. Have you all noticed that in Middle School they lose that sense of having fun while learning? When I become a teacher I want to have my lessons to be fun but also have a meaning that the kids can take away from and reflect on. It's smart to tie it in with a holiday and Im glad you put up these lesson plans because they are defiantly a huge help! Thank you!

Amy Kelly Amy Kelly 1635 Points

Thanks for all of the great ideas! My mentor teacher just had a math lesson that involved choosing the best tools to measure the circumference of various pumpkins. You would not believe how excited these 5th graders were to work with pumpkins! They were so motivated to do the assignment. I am all for using these novel ideas to get them engaged.

Kathleen Chachich Kathleen Chachich 2825 Points

Thanks for responding everyone. I know that while many do not celebrate Halloween I have trouble seeing the bad part of doing an activity or two. I can understand not doing an entire lesson. Things like Halloween Easter and Christmas should be able to be mentioned with out everyone freaking out, just as other Holidays are mentioned. White Christians have historically had the upper hand but by excluding their holidays from instruction we are not only telling the kids that celebrate these holidays that we can't talk about them and the children who do not celebrate them will not get the opportunity to be exposed.

Don Dean Don Dean 200 Points

Hi all, I came upon this thread in progress, so I hope I don't repeat something. I strongly believe that we should tap into a student's circumstantial world "in the moment" to promote lifelong retention, so I would take advantage of any events that are not potentially religion specific. With middle school children, we pull out all the stops on Halloween. If you can buy some bromothymol blue for next year, you can change the color by blowing bubbles into it, or drop in a sliver of dry ice. Red cabbage juice is terrific as an indicator. I usually boil it at home (slightly "biologic" smell if you do it in the classroom), dilute and put it in a plastic water bottle. Keeps a while in the fridge tightly capped. Point is, as the students get older, the teaching becomes more of a curriculum train and we lose the ability to have the day's lesson bind with the child's experience. In my opinion. Don

Michael Leslie Michael Leslie 2110 Points

One science lessons that relates to Halloween that I tried was to do a small project on the moon. First I read a story about Halloween especially one with wear wolves and black cats. Then I would have a small discussion with my students and ask them why people think the moon has these magically powers. Then we focus on the real effects the moon has on the earth. The students make a one pager where they write five things they learned about the moon and draw a really bright picture of the moon. Kids like it and your class gets decorated for Halloween.

Alicia Krause Alicia Krause 470 Points

Do you find that using holiday themed lessons make students more interested in learning? I think this is a great question! I think that holiday themed lesson plans can be exciting and original. Holidays are exciting for younger students and the change of seasons always gets the excited. When we put these things into the classroom I think that they will be more engaged and interested. For example, Halloween is all around them right now, so why not add it into a lesson plan? They are already excited for Halloween so hopefully the students will already be engaged in the topic you will be explaining. I think having holiday themed lesson plans are a great idea, and not only are they fun but the kids will be really interested and engaged in the lesson.

Jessica Valenstein Jessica Valenstein 545 Points

I love the holiday themed lesson plans! I feel that this really gets the students engaged in what they are learning because they are having fun while doing it. I also feel that elementary teachers are great at incorporating learning with fun. However, what happens when students get to middle and high school? I feel that sometimes, teachers do not consider having fun while learning, and important aspect to their lessons. Sometimes teachers feel like their students are at the age now where they understand the importance of just learning, therefore, they do not need to incorporate fun anymore. I disagree with this and hope some middle school and high school teachers will still keep the fun alive in their lesson plans! :)

Deanna Spain Deanna 1195 Points

I love Holiday themed lessons! Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I teach Kindergarten and I love doing a pumpkin themed lesson - we observe and collect data about the pumpkin using our 5 senses and the students even get a chance to weigh the pumpkins using non traditional objects, such as teddy bead counters. Then in the end they make a prediction to see if the heaviest pumkin has the biggest circumference.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37148 Points

I was just remembering one failry simple thing I did at Halloween and that was I dressed up as Ms. Frizzle. All it took was a red hair wig and a purple dress. I then cut out items that would go along with the unit I was teaching and pinned them on the dress. For example , Force & Motion, I would have a pic of a sheep, a jeep, push, pull, balls rolling . Well you get the idea and then we continued on the science we were studying. The kids loved. They loved watching me dress up and we were able to continue in our curriculum.
Ms Frizzle


Royce Jeffrey Royce Jeffrey 485 Points

Jessica, I feel like a lot of older grade teachers cannot properly balance fun and learning, and feel like things will get out of hand if they try to make things too fun. The balance is the hardest thing to achieve, so many just cut the fun out altogether. You probably know that "fun" can easily turn into "goofing off", especially in middle school for young trouble-makers like I once was. Our Spanish teacher used to bring a guitar in to sing and play to us in middle school. This worked in elementary school to some degree, but by middle school many of us had developed attitudes. We saw this "fun" learning opportunity as nothing more than play time; our teacher was subsequently ridiculed. If a teacher first disciplines the class and ensures the best possible behavior, then I think that more "fun" activities can be considered. Until that time though, "fun" may not be so fun for the instructor of a class. (Sorry that I kept quoting fun, but it seemed "fun" at the time =)

Kendra Young Kendra Young 17180 Points

[i]Royce said, "I feel like a lot of older grade teachers cannot properly balance fun and learning, and feel like things will get out of hand if they try to make things too fun."[/i] As a middle school teacher, I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree more. I'm known for my antics in the classroom (costumes, songs, dances, raps, etc.) and I especially kicked it into high gear around Halloween - usually an Interview with a Dead Scientist (or two). I successfully taught seventh and eighth grades for years, and find that it kept my students engaged and made them willing to push themselves to the limit. However, I should also point out that although I taught middle school, I didn't stop at the state standards. I taught my students on at least a 10th grade level so that high school would feel like a review to them. I taught in an urban school (94% free and reduced lunches) so this was no small feat, to say the least. My students consistently scored second highest in a district of 78 total schools, 21 of which were middle schools. My point is simply that our students can have it all. They can be challenged, they can have fun, and they can do well on standardized tests (regardless of socioeconomic status). The key is to make sure all activities are engaging, related to the learning objective, and are age-appropriate. This requires planning (and more planning, and then some more planning), excellent classroom management, and a willingness to say it over and over again and do it over and over again, until your students "get it." Please don't ever feel that you have to sacrifice one for the other. There are activities I did in my first few years of teaching that I would never do again in a million years. They completely blew up in my face. Don't give up when that happens. Just table that activity, learn from it, and move on to another idea - but never give up. You'll have to learn to laugh at yourself - and expose to your students that you are indeed fallible. There's magic in that, I promise. You can do this, and so can your students. I remember reading an article about an 80 year old high school English teacher from California. She was teaching a lesson about "Freudian Slips" of the tongue - so she arrived at school that day wearing her slip on the outside of her dress. It doesn't have to be smoke and fireworks for it to be effective - a little craziness made her students love her and her class - and they hung on every word she had to say.

Kendra Young Kendra Young 17180 Points

Kathy Renfrew said: [i]I was just remembering one failry simple thing I did at Halloween and that was I dressed up as Ms. Frizzle. All it took was a red hair wig and a purple dress. I then cut out items that would go along with the unit I was teaching and pinned them on the dress. For example , Force & Motion, I would have a pic of a sheep, a jeep, push, pull, balls rolling . Well you get the idea and then we continued on the science we were studying. The kids loved. They loved watching me dress up and we were able to continue in our curriculum. Ms Frizzle Kathy [/i] ---I need a "Like" button for this! I used to say that I wanted Ms. Frizzle's bus and Nanny McPhee's stick - then all would be well in my world. AWESOME idea! Kudos!

 Dawn Nishimoto 3015 Points

Aloha Every year I have my sixth graders make slime for Halloween. Students are able to think of inquiry questions and design experiments using the slime. I use this as an opportunity to review variables, scientific process, and properties. I usually use different kinds of slime (baking soda, borax). Here are some examples of my students' inquiry questions: -What surface will the slime stick to for the longest period of time? -What will happen to the slime if we leave it in the sun? -Will the slime sink or float? -How does the slime change over a period of time? You can get the directions for making slime here: There are many recipes online. I always wanted to try the "rubber bone" experiment, with the chicken bone in the vinegar. This link has slime recipes and the rubber bone experiment. Let me know if you try it!

Helen Hicks Helen Hicks 2635 Points

It's great reading everyone posts about Halloween activities. I also do a pumpkin investigations finding the circumferences of different size pumpkins, the height, counting the ribs, estimating and the actual weight and cutting it open and counting the seeds. I like how Dawn said she makes slime, that sounds cool and I may have to do that next year.

Richard Varner Richard Varner 955 Points

Dawn - The use of slime, Oobleck or non-Newtonian fluids during the Halloween week is wonderful. Of course, it doesn't have to be in recognition of Halloween, rather the wonder of science inquiry. The literary connection to Dr. Suess' Bartholomew and the Oobleck is obvious and the science polymer study of semi-solids and non-Newtonian fluid that act like a liquid when stretched and a solid when compressed. There is a GEMS Guide that looks at an engineering design component as well. Imagine a planet made of this slime and you have to design a space craft to land on it, take a sample and return safety to orbit. Your students could have great fun inquiry in designing, testing and redesigning and retesting their spacecraft models for this outcome. Add the writing and presentation components by having the student teams report out to the fiscal planning committee to decide which mini-student company gets the contract to design this hardware.

Melanie Parras Melanie Parras 1230 Points

This is very interesting! I did not think that you could use a theme like Halloween with Science. I think that if more teachers were as enthusiastic about Science as you are, we would have a lot more children interested and passing Science.

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

I must admit, I went back and forth in deciding if I should include a Halloween theme in my lesson tomorrow. I was also concerned about offending students, who do not participate in the holiday for religious or personal reasons. So I was careful in considering what to include in the lesson. Here is what I have planned: We are beginning our metric measurement unit, so I purchased a Halloween fun pack with eye balls, green witch's fingers, skull rings, and rubber bats. Instead of my students measuring paper clips, books, pencils and pennies, I am going to have them measure these ghoulish items - length, circumference and diameters...and some more traditional items too. This is the explore section of my lesson design, so students will first provide an estimate on how many centimeters they think the item measures...once all of the estimates are completed, they get their metric ruler to determine the actual measurement and also determine the difference between them. It is my hope that measuring these items metrically will help them see the holiday and the metric system in a new way. :-) I have also purchased yeast and hope to pull together an elephant toothpaste demonstration, if there is time.

Michelle Diosa Michelle Diosa 435 Points

Thank you for sharing! October is far away, but I love these ideas. I will definitely use them when Halloween comes around.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers