Halloween Ideas 2011

First post for teachers…

Halloween ideas 2011

The following are some ideas for bringing Halloween into the classroom this week.  They are based around the idea of planning a Halloween party which originated with Jason Renshaw’s Weblog (http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/) in his post The English Raven lesson materials design challenge:


Jason’s idea is to see how different teachers take the initial input material he has put on a template and develop it into a lesson.  There are some great responses from people who have taken up the challenge in the comments boxes and the ideas here feed off the ones I looked at.

Thanks to all the teachers at IH Santa Clara who contributed ideas to this collection, Jason Renshaw for setting the whole thing up and the teachers who contributed on Jason’s page who we might borrow ideas from in our classes this week.

As per the brief, these lesson ideas are aimed at young learners, primarily young teens, studying at A2-B1 levels.

Introductions – brainstorming ideas for a Halloween party

Ls brainstorm ideas of typical things people do to celebrate Halloween drawing on their own knowledge of the topic.  To facilitate this, the brainstorm could happen using a social network-like news/status feed sheet like the one in the picture here.  The status could read:  Help!!!  I’m going to have a Halloween party – any ideas for things to do???  The ss could add ideas to the sheet and then move to a different sheet and add comments on and develop the ideas that others have suggested.

Halloween news feed
Halloween news feed – stimulus for brainstorming ideas
Using Jason Renshaw’s input material – the party invitation
1)  Listening  Jason’s input material has been adapted so there is a listening test/challenge element.  Mirroring a KET-type activity, learners listen and correct / complete the party invitation with accurate information.
The listening audio – Halloween track 1 –  is available from Jason’s page – you can download it to your own PC to use in class.
Here is the invitation learners complete with answers:
Halloween party invitation from Jason Renshaw's blog post:  The English Raven Halloween Lesson Materials Design Challenge

Halloween party invitation from Jason Renshaw's blog post: The English Raven Halloween Lesson Materials Design Challenge

Date:  October 30th 31st
Time:  7 pm
Where:  At my school  My house

I’m providing all the food, drinks, and _music__.  Bring along a fun Halloween activity for everyone to do. See you there!

2)  Reading and Speaking  Learners read about and discuss ideas for how to celebrate Halloween at a party.
Here is a suggestion for how the activity could be staged:
Read about some activities and decide which should be included at the party.

1)      Individually, rank the activities according to how popular you think they would be (1 = the most popular, 7 = the least popular)

2)      Compare your ideas with 2 other people.  Can you agree on 3 activities which will make the party fun?


Ideas for Halloween Parties

  • Telling scary stories:  Each person tells a story to the group.  When everyone has finished you vote for the scariest story
  • Fancy dress competition:  Everybody comes to the party in a Halloween themed costume.  Monsters, vampires, aliens, zombies, witches, skeletons!  The person with the best, most realistic or most original costume wins a prize
  • Making Jack-o-lanterns:  No Halloween party is complete without a pumpkin face for decoration
  • Trick or treat:  This means you visit your neighbours’ houses in your costume.  Your neighbour has a choice:  either they give you a treat (e.g. some sweets) or they face the consequence (e.g. you do something horrible to them!)
  • Watching a horror film
  • Scary music disco:  There are some great songs related to Halloween – make a playlist of your favourites, turn up the volume and dance!
  • Traditional games:  Apple bobbing is an old custom where you pick up an apple which is floating in water.  Sounds easy?  It isn’t when you can only use your teeth!
You could get some general feedback from different groups of learners:  Which ideas were most/least popular?  Why?  etc.
3)  Writing
Using the ‘status update’ ideas from the brainstorming page and the extra input from the texts, learners write an invitation for their own party. Challenge:  Can learners make their party sound more exciting than the example we listened to and completed?  You could model some ideas to help learners achieve this…
  • using questions or strong statements to make the reader more interested…Want to celebrate Halloween but not sure how?  My amazing party is going to celebrate in style!   Don’t be a pumpkin on Halloween – come and celebrate with me!
  • using descriptive language (the input texts are superlative rich) to make the activities sound interesting
  • using Halloween topic vocabulary…It’s going to be frighteningly good! etc.
Ss could brainstorm similar sentences to these to include in their texts.
Taking the party planning further
How could the lesson develop so that Halloween activities and sub-topics such as costumes, films, stories and music were further exploited?
Here is something I prepared earlier, an idea for developing the topic of food.   For this you will need, some print outs of the material (preferably colour printed or a projector connected to a PC so learners can see the visuals), for the later stage, a PC / access to a computer room is required to stream a video.  A strong stomach might also help you cope with these rather horrible Halloween snacks.
Designing the menu for a Halloween party
1)  Learners match names and pictures for horrible Halloween snacks:

Match the correct name to the pictures of the Halloween snacks (There are two extra names you do not need to use) 

(a)     The vampire’s false teeth

(b)    Melon brain

(c)    Edible eyeballs

(d)    Bat chips

(e)    Finger food

Use the pictures to complete the ingredients for each of the Halloween snacks.  Follow the examples at the beginning.

 To make this recipe you will need these ingredients… 

Finger food

The vampire’s false teeth

(a)    Edible eyeballs

…some carrots



…some cheese




…a green pepper




…some almonds




…a few black olives




…some apples




Live listening to check answers.  Teacher reads and learners check the key nouns for the ingredients they ticked are in the instructions:

One:  Making finger-food is quick and easy.  All you need is some cheese, cut into the size and shape of a finger.  Then, take some small slices of green pepper and use them to make the finger nail.  Attach the pepper nail to the finger using cream cheese.  Finally, make the cheese look like a finger by marking the lines.  Easy to make, easy to eat, disgusting to look at!

Two:  The vampire’s false teeth are healthy to eat as well as easy to make.  All you need to do is cut the apple into the shape of a mouth and then press the almonds into place for the teeth.

Three:  They look disgusting but they are actually really tasty and what’s more, Edible eyeballs are healthy and easy to make too!  Here’s what you do…First, slice the carrots into chunks of 2.5 centimetres.  Then, put a blob of cream cheese on top of each piece of carrot.  Finally, put a black olive on top and serve.  Your guests won’t believe what they are seeing!

Listening:  How to make Melon brain!  Learners order cooking instructions, watch and check a video without sound and then with sound to confirm answers are correct.  For this you need to show the video linked here in class and have the instructions printed (and if possible cut into strips) for the learners to order.

Here are some instructions for how to make a party snack called “Melon brain.”  Put the instructions into a logical chronological order.

a)      To start with, take off the melon skin using a vegetable peeler.

b)      Next, use a toothpick to mark the lines that look like the surface of the brain.

c)      Finally, cut thin lines with a sharp knife to expose the red fruit beneath the white part.  This really makes the melon look like a brain.

d)      Then, slice off the bottom of the melon to create a flat base that will stop it moving.

e)      First of all, get your things ready.  You will need a melon, a vegetable peeler, a toothpick and a sharp knife.

f)       That’s it!  A disgusting-looking but very clever Halloween snack!


1)  Watch – no sound:  make any changes  2)  Watch – with sound:  check ideas  (extra challenge:  which steps does the presenter say “an adult should do this” / “a child can do this” (difference between should/can etc.)

Alternative:  Get learners to watch the video first without sound and then order the instructions.  Listen/watch and check.

Video link:  http://familyfun.go.com/how-to-videos/halloween-melon-brain-952170-v/

Mutual dictation  Learners have two incomplete versions of the same text (a recipe and instructions).   They dictate the text  to each other before showing their understanding of the text by drawing the instructions and giving a name to the recipe they have been working on.

Text 1:  Learner A:  (1) First, take some _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ a bowl.  Add the _____ _____ _____.  (2)  Then, melt some butter ____ ____ ____ ______ mixture.  Stir.  (3)  _____ ____ _____ ______ solid but not burnt, stop ________ ____ ______ _____ _____, ham and carrot.  (4)  ________ ____ _____ and eat immediately.

Text 2:  Learner B:  (1) _____,  ____ ____ eggs and break them into _____ ______.  ____ ____ milk and mix.  (2)  ____, ____ ____ _____ and add the egg ______.  ______.  (3)  When the mixture is ______ ____ _____ _______, ______ heating and add the tomato, _____ ____ _______.   (4)  Serve on toast _____ _____ _________.

Complete text:  (1)  First, take some eggs and break them into a bowl.  Add the milk and mix.  (2)  Then, melt some butter and add the egg mixture.  Stir.  (3)  When the mixture is solid but not burnt, stop heating and add the tomato, ham and carrot.  (4)  Serve on toast and eat immediately.

When learners have finished the dictation they should quickly draw steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the instructions and/or what the final dish looks like.  They should also give the dish a name.

Tell learners that this is actually a recipe called sick on toast from a book called Gruesome Grub and Disgusting Dishes by Susan Martineau (b small publishing, 1999; Kingston -on-Thames)

So, hope these are of interest:  Here are the ideas on Jason’s original materials template from the The English Raven lesson materials design challenge:  halloween-1-worksheet-template

The pictures of the Halloween recipes come from:  Disney Family Fun (www.familyfun.go.com)

Susan Martineau, Gruesome Grub and Disgusting Dishes (b small publishing, 1999; Kingston -on-Thames)


Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching ideas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s