Monday, November 7, 2011

Spooky October Lessons

Ghosts, witches, and goblins, oh my!  It’s October, and as the leaves begin falling and scary decorations start to pop up around town, many students are buzzing about what they are going to be for Halloween. Although many schools have banned wearing costumes to school and have “harvest celebrations” instead of Halloween parties or carnivals, the scary side of Halloween can be very intriguing to students.  Some enterprising teachers have found ways to bring the spirit of the season into their classrooms in creative and engaging ways.  If you want to do more with the Halloween theme this year than jack’o lantern and ghost crafts, try one of these ideas on the Gateway to bring “spooky” literature and ghost stories to life.  

There are lots of fun books that cater to kids’ fascination with everything Halloween, but it can be hard to figure out which ones are appropriate for your students. Common Sense Media provides book lists to help parents and teachers decide which books they want to share with their children.  One of their lists is dedicated to books about vampires, werewolves, and zombies for kindergarteners on up: just the list you need for October!  Their reviews of the Twilight series are a must read for those of you with students obsessed with everything Twilight.  Another good “vampire-esque” book to read is Bunnicula by James Howe.  Bunnicula is geared toward younger vampire-loving students and this lesson from TeacherVision will help you find activities to integrate the book into your classroom activities.  You can also read more about activities for reading The Spiderwick Chronicles with your students. 

Halloween conjures up images in my mind of witches in black dresses riding on broomsticks.  Although history books aren’t full of this classic view of the witch, events like the Salem witch trials show what a big role witchcraft (and suspected witchcraft) has played throughout history. Colonial America: The Salem Witch Trials, Salem Witch Trials Unit, and Which of You is a Witch? are 3 good places to start looking for witch resources. A less historical, but very popular look at witches and wizards can be found in the Harry Potter series.  Check out this Harry Potter Discussion Guide to make the most of these magical books.

I also found a couple more neat ghost resources in my Gateway search today.  After reading ghost stories or having your students write some of their own, it might be a good discussion-starter to look at and discuss the historical photographs in Do You Believe? A Ghostly Gallery from the American Museum of Photography.  It’s very interesting to see how spirits have been captured on film…or is it an illusion?  PE Central has all kinds of fun Halloween activities to get your kids moving.  They may be ready to get up and run after all these scary lessons!  Ghost in the Graveyard is a fun activity to introduce during this season. 

A big benefit of using Gateway resources over other internet resources you may come across is the ability to see which of your state standards are covered in each lesson.  Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the Gateway description of the resource so you can try out the Standards Suggestion tool for yourself.

~ Peggy's Corner - October 20, 2011 ~

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