It’s finally beginning to feel like autumn in Madrid. The air is cooler and the leaves are falling off the trees. The first month or two of teaching is finishing, and you’re finally getting into the swing of things. Halloween is quickly approaching and the stores are putting out spooky decorations. Each year this holiday is growing here in Spain; there are continuously more decorations, motifs, costumes etc. Halloween is near! Children are thinking about ghosts and monsters, pumpkins and witches, filling their coloring books with pictures and titling their drawings “jaloguin”.
The week before Halloween there are plenty of fun activities to do with your classes to prepare.
Both in infantil and primary, teach the students Halloween vocabulary. Coloring pages and worksheets or making some craft is always fun. Hang the creations up in the classroom or hallway to decorate. Decorate the doors of each classroom with a different Halloween character. Bring an actual pumpkin to the class, cut open the top, and have the children put their hand in and feel the pulp, take out the seeds, and get all icky. It’s something different and hands on – they’ll be skeptical at first, but they’ll love it!
Sing Halloween themed songs with the children and watch videos in the days leading up to Halloween.
Songs and videos for Infantil
- Who Took the Candy?
- Five Little Pumpkins
- Knock, Knock, Trick or Treat
- Five Creepy Spiders
- Go Away Spooky Goblin
- This is the Way We Carve a Pumpkin
- Can You Make a Happy Face?
- Meg and Mog Halloween
Songs and videos for Primary
- Hello It’s Halloween
- Skeleton Dance (Silly Symphonies)
- Casper the Friendly Ghost
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
On Halloween day, throw your students a party. Most schools allow the children to dress up for Halloween. Decorate the classroom, gym, or assembly hall – keeping in mind not to really scare the little ones. As a teacher, choose a costume that won’t frighten the infantil kids and don’t cover your face with a mask. Put on some music and play games. With the older grades in primary, go all out and really try to scare them – hey it is Halloween!
Games and activities for Infantil
- What Time is it Mr. Ghost (Mr. Pumpkin, Mrs. Witch, etc) – Have the students line up on one end of the room and choose one student to be “Mr. Ghost”. The students have to say “What time is it Mr. Ghost?” and Mr. Ghost replies with a number, for example “1”. In this case the students take one step. Each time they get closer and closer to Mr. Ghost. If Mr. Ghost replies “It’s Halloween” everybody has to run back to the other side and Mr. Ghost tries to tag somebody. That student is the new Mr. Ghost.
- Who Took the Candy? – Have the students sit in the circle and sing the song “Who took the candy from the trick or treat bag?” One student has a ball or toy hidden on themselves (or in their pocket). Pick a students name “Olivia took the candy from the trick or treat bag”. Olivia says, “Who me?” The students reply “Yes, you!” Olivia replies “Not me” and the students reply, “then who?” and you choose another student. The game continues until the students guess who took the “candy”.
- Trick or Treating The students are all dressed up so take them trick-or-treating around the school. Teach them the “Knock, knock trick or treat” song and have them parade around the halls, knocking on classroom doors. Sing the song with them as they enter, and have the teacher or older students give out candies, stickers or treats.
Games and Activities for Primary
- Touchy-Feely Boxes – Decorate a few boxes with Halloween motifs and put a hole on the top so that the students can reach their hand in. Fill the boxes with foods that resemble body parts to creep them out. Use grapes for eyeballs, spaghetti for brains, carrots for fingers, etc. Get creative and have the students guess which body part they are touching. Even place your hand in one box and wiggle your fingers to give them an extra fright!
- Pin the Spider on the Web – Make (or buy) a spiderweb and have a huge spider with velcro on the back. Have the students line up and blindfold them, spin them around a couple times to make them dizzy and then they have to place the spider on the web. They’ll be disoriented and won’t know where the web is.
- Guess the seeds – Scoop out the seeds of a pumpkin and count them all (yes, I actually do count them – around 400 something per small pumpkin). Place the seeds (and some pumpkin pulp) in a jar and fill it with water. It looks creepy and yucky. Have the students hold the jar, examine it and try to guess how many seeds are found in a pumpkin. The student who guesses correctly (or close enough) gets a prize.
- Monster Bean Bag Toss – Make boxes and decorate them as Halloween characters leaving a hole for the mouth. Make bean bags out of rice and socks. Have the students line up and try their luck throwing a bean bag into the monster’s mouth.
- Mummy Relay Races – Place the students into 3 or 4 teams. Each team picks a student to be the “mummy”. The other students have to wrap the mummy in medical bandage or just plain toilet paper. Then the mummies have a race. You can also have a contest to see who made the best mummy.
- Carving Pumpkins – with the older students (5th and 6th grade) you can have them carve pumpkins. Be sure to take caution with knives and have each student carve just a little piece of a pumpkin. Then, display the jack-o-lanterns with candles. Don’t be disappointed at the size of the pumpkins here in Spain– you may think they’re tiny compared to what you’re used to.
- Just Dance – Set up a projector and put videos of Just Dance for a spooky dance party! You’d be surprised how many Halloween-ish dances there are! Some examples: Thriller, Monster Mash, This is Halloween, Ghostbusters
- Haunted House – This requires collaboration with the head teachers and more work, but a haunted house is an excellent idea for the older grades. Most teachers are eager to help and participate in scaring the students. Create a passage of fright and scare those “monster students”! (Make up for all the headaches they give you)
In America, we’ve redefined Halloween and it’s becoming less and less scary. However, here in Spain this relatively new holiday is a fright-fest, so get ready to have fun, get in the spooky spirit and scream with terror! Halloween is here!
Olivia Krolik Alumni Instituto Franklin, MA in Learning & Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language 2013-2014