Many children look forward to Halloween each year. English Language Learners (ELLs) that are newcomers may not have experienced Halloween in the past or celebrated it in a much different way. These students will benefit from a basic explanation of what the holiday is and the different ways that it is celebrated in their community. This will help alleviate the confusion that may come up otherwise. Here are some Halloween activities and tips to use as you introduce the holiday to your students.
Other ELLs have grown up in the United States and enjoy it the same way their classmates do. These students will enjoy thematic Halloween activities integrated throughout the month.
Finally, some students may come from families that do not celebrate Halloween.
It is important to be culturally sensitive to students that do not celebrate the holiday. For students whose family does not celebrate Halloween, you can provide them with alternate activities that cover the same academic content. Another option is to avoid Halloween themed activities in the classroom and stick to Fall themes.
I have some suggestions for Halloween Books to use with your ELLs. A new one that I really like is A World Full of Spooky Stories: 50 Tales to Make Your Spine Tingle– This is an anthology of short spooky stories from around the world. They would also be fun read alouds for ELLs or guided reading texts for older students.
Compare & Contrast Halloween with Dia de los Muertos
Comparing and contrasting the traditions of Halloween with Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a great way to expose students to new traditions and allow some students to be the expert if Dia de los Muertos is a holiday that they are familiar with.
Use reading passages to introduce the two holidays.
If you teach middle or high school newcomers, here is a lesson plan from salvac.edublogs.org.
All students can benefit from learning about how Halloween practices differ around the world.
If you have a real pumpkin to demonstrate carving, that would be a great time to use the language experience approach. Taking part in a shared experience gives students similar background experiences that they can then speak and/or write about. You can also use a virtual pumpkin carving website to simulate the experience.
Halloween Scavenger Hunts
Young students will enjoy reading and practicing vocabulary skills with Halloween Scavenger Hunts. There are two levels included. Students either check off objects as they find them or draw/write down the objects. There are also sheets to integrate shapes and letter sounds.
You can print out picture cards to leave around the classroom/outside or have students search through books for Halloween objects. Read more about using scavenger hunts with ELLs.
Halloween Writing Center
Use a mini writing center to help students expand their vocabulary and write about Halloween. There are vocabulary posters, vocabulary cards, and differentiated writing pages.
One prompt has students design a Halloween costume and then label or write about it.
Halloween Writing Prompts
Help students come up with topics to write about with this set of Halloween themed writing prompts. Each picture comes with a question. The cards also have a word bank and sentence frames to help ELLs and struggling writers. They come in both print and digital formats.
Halloween Would You Rather Task Cards
Would you rather questions are great for helping students give their opinion. You can use them for a quick speaking or writing activity. This set has Halloween themed questions. They come in both print and digital formats.
Halloween Parts of Speech Color by Code
Use these Halloween themed color by code sheets to help students practice identifying different parts of speech.
This comes with Illustrated Vocabulary Sheets to help ELLs with the vocabulary. They are also available separately.
Halloween bingo is a fun game to play if you are having a Halloween party. Students can also pick up some vocabulary around the holiday as they play.