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October 2011 TC

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Trick… or Treat… or Lesson?

I am writing this edition of the Teacher’s Corner from the Northeast, where the weather is an unseasonable 80 degrees. The climate, in combination with the Giant Pumpkin weigh-off this weekend and a little spirit of the season has led me to reflect upon the holiday from multiple educational perspectives. I’m often found jotting down interdisciplinary connections to topics and I figured that I would share my thoughts for classroom connections during this month of October, where the topic of conversation seems to revolve around the question “What will you be for Halloween?”

In truth, I am quite excited about the list I’ve generated. Rather than the typical coloring pages, leaf tracing, and host of “arts and crafts” activities, I think you will find some great content to use with your advanced students, who will certainly benefit from looking at Halloween as more than just a night to go out and trick (hopefully not too tricky) or treat. 
I have tried to include a few ideas and resources for each of the main discipline areas (Science, Math, History/Business, Language/Writing/Reading, Arts/Music.) If you are a classroom teacher these suggestions may serve as enrichment activities for students who show interest and have some spare time in class. Gifted coordinators may find these ideas helpful to pass long to teachers or make use of them during a weekly enrichment time. The following activities could also be used during before and after school programs.  Of course, they can also be inserted into pre-existing curriculum.  Again, these are just a short sampling of what is possible. I hope that they stir up a cauldron of ideas.  Have fun!


  • Have your students visit the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) and read about the many different pumpkin varieties and species
  • An in-depth activity could involve students participating in the dissection of a pumpkin, identifying the parts and using their observational skills to sketch and describe what is seen.
  • Prepare a procedure for growing a pumpkin
  • Students could also utilize EOL to investigate varieties of bat species
  • There is a great Virtual Skeletal System discussion developed by the University of Wyoming. Have the students visit and learn.




  • A visit to the library around this time of year will most likely yield a display of the most popular ghost stories, children’s books, poems and plays that you could share and discuss with your students. 
  • There is the complete text of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from Project Guttenberg. This website also has a host of other great ideas. You’ll find an audio recording of the story.

Arts and Music

  • Present a variety of painters and illustrators that have created paintings and illustrations with Halloween themes.
  • Students could create masks, props, and costumes with an expert touch. They could also research professional make-up design.
  • Presentation of music associated with Halloween is fun. Monster Mash, Thriller, and Werewolves of London are my favorites!
  • How about a little film appreciation? There is a great free download of Nosferatu, a 1922 silent film. Nothing could be better that watching some of the classic horror films and their stars Bela Lugosi and Lon Cheney. Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, Dracula and The Wolfman. The camera shots and editing are great examples of fine cinema . . . . no matter what the season!