Are you looking for Halloween Lesson Plans and Activities for ELA/ESL/EFL? Here’s a collection of my best-sellers, as well as some new critical thinking mystery games with a Halloween theme. I now keep all my lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers, so the links go directly to that site.
Introducing Halloween Lesson Plans and Activities
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Lesson Plan A complete lesson plan with a warmer, guide to the video, a vocabulary list and activities, comprehension and discussion questions, and ideas for extension activities. I love using Charlie Brown movies to introduce holidays to my international students. It’s also amazing how much they already know about the holidays. Unlike other Charlie Brown films, It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown doesn’t have much of a moral lesson, but there’s an underlying theme of naive faith and childhood stories that you can get students talking about. It’s also a fun, funny movie to bring a little holiday spirit into the classroom.
Halloween True or False My go-to lesson to introduce Halloween to EFL and ESL students. Students are presented with a series of Halloween traditions and have to figure out or research which are real and which are not. This activity lends itself to lots of discussion and can be turned into a webquest easily. Teach research skills and good Internet habits along with your Halloween fun!
“This is Halloween” Lyrics Gap-Fill Use the popular Tim Burton song from The Nightmare Before Christmas to introduce Halloween and have some fun. Obviously, this makes for a good listening lesson.
My Comprehensive, Highly Adaptable Halloween Lesson Plan which covers a lot of territory from reading scary stories to reviewing Halloween vocabulary to the Halloween True or False lesson. So it’s bits and pieces of things, including some of the other ideas you see here.
Halloween Lesson Plans and Activities for Writing
The Movie of Death: This lesson plan uses the genre method of writing to help students analyze a scary story. After reading an example scary story, they look for the key features that make it scary using a worksheet. Then they are ready to write a scary story of their own. The sample story is as silly as the title suggests, so students won’t be too scared by it. But my students come up with some creepy ideas when I do this one with them!
Halloween Process Essay If you’re teaching the process essay, here’s a way to give it a Halloween flair. Students assemble and then read an essay on how to make a mask. You can even make masks with them in class if you want.
The Candy Thief Halloween Mystery Someone stole a bag of candy from a trick-or-treater. There were three witnesses but one of them is lying. Can your students follow the clues and figure out who did it? This lesson is one of my best-selling, critically teacher-acclaimed clue by clue lessons, targeted for a slightly younger audience. It’s a great critical thinking and discussion activity. This version is in PDF so you can download and print it. There’s also a PowerPoint version to display in class.
Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board A creepy Halloween murder mystery. Who stabbed the victim in the dark while they were playing the popular Halloween game. This one takes the form of a logic puzzle. Can your students use the clues to match the name to the costume and seating position? And then figure out Whodunit?
Reading Activities for Halloween
Scary Stories adapted for intermediate students. These are short urban-legend-style scary stories each only a couple of paragraphs long. Have students read them and then retell them, act them out, or illustrate them.
This The Gift of the Magi lesson plan packet has taken me years to compile!
“The Gift of the Magi” is without a doubt one of my favorite short stories, especially for the Christmas season. I’ve been teaching it to my students for years, and now I’ve compiled 15 different “The Gift of the Magi” lesson plans, activities, and resources for you. It’s 108 pages of activities, handouts and worksheets that cover vocabulary, irony, the moral of the story, character analysis, close reading, critical reading skills, and a lot more. The packet even includes some assessment materials. Each resource comes with comprehensive teacher notes and answer keys.
Isn’t “The Gift of the Magi” Too Difficult for ESL Students?
The story itself is actually very simple:
A husband and wife are very much in love with each other. The wife has very beautiful hair that she loves very much. The husband has a pocket watch that he loves very much. They want to buy very nice Christmas presents for each other, but they don’t have much money. So, the wife sells her hair to get money. and buys a chain for the watch. Unfortunately, the husband sells his watch to buy the woman beautiful combs for her hair. Each one gives up the thing they love for the other one. While tragic, the story proves that the couple love each more than anything.
It’s a beautiful and touching story, a perfect example of how situational irony can work. But we don’t often do it in class, because it’s a difficult story. But it’s difficult for only two reasons, both of which I’ve addressed in my packet.:
The references: There are references to things that may be unfamiliar to a modern-day student, especially one from another country. There are also allusions to the Bible and other sources in the story that students may not be familiar with. That’s why I’ve provided a lightly graded text with footnotes to explain the more obscure references and early 20th century items. This lesson pack also includes warm-up activities to get at the main theme and explain the references to the magi.
The vocabulary: Let’s face it. O. Henry was a wordsmith and this story has a lot of words that are off the 200 most frequently used lists and the AWL. That’s why I’ve included:
A master list of those hard words for your reference.
More importantly, a fun quick vocab match to teach haircomb, pocket watch, watch chain, and gift.
There’s also an extensive vocabulary learning lesson plan which focuses on 24 words that students may not know, but which are fairly easy to explain, such as butcher and howl and platinum. Students use social learning methods to learn the meanings and then do a series of flashcard games to review them.
There’s also a lesson plan on predicting the meaning of difficult words in context, including figuring out how much you need to know about a word to follow the story. Keep students from looking up every single word they don’t know!
Finally a critical reading skills lesson models reading for the gist, focusing on words you do know and grasping the main idea without knowing every word.
This lesson teaches students how to give directions in English by using a map to let students practice describe where buildings are located and then give and follow geographical directions to locate specific buildings.
To give students practice in describing the location of places.
To teach prepositions and prepositional phrases as used to describe location
To practice asking and answering questions about locations
To give authentic practice in asking for and giving directions in a town or a city
Map of Downtown Imagineville
Giving Directions Worksheet
A map of your town. Open Street Map (https://www.openstreetmap.org is a great resource to print road maps of a particular town or neighborhood or even region)
Extra blank city maps You can use these maps to make your own exercises if you want to target particular vocabulary or give students extra practice.
Start by asking students where you can buy good vegetables. When they give you the name of a store, ask them where it is. Listen to the problems they have giving directions in English.
When students give you imprecise information, ask them to clarify or if they give wrong information, call them out on it. You might say something such as, “Next to the train station? That’s an office building, isn’t it? I can’t buy vegetables at an Italian restaurant.”
Ask for a few more places. Remember to ask for the location and challenge them to be precise and accurate. This is a great chance for authentic communication with your students as you can ask for places that you genuinely want to go to. You’ll get the whole class arguing over the location and then correcting each other’s directions.
When I’m in another country, I often ask my students:
Where can I go to meet other expats?
Where can I buy macaroni and cheese?
Where can I buy frozen vegetables?
Where can I buy nice clothes?
Where is there a good Italian restaurant?
Where can I get a screwdriver? (or whatever tool or spare part I might need to fix something at home)
Now hand out the Map of Downtown Imagineville. Call on students one at a time to find the locations below, eliciting the street and the corner street as well as what it is next to or across from.
Students can do this as a whole class or in small groups.
Introduce giving directions by asking a few of them how to go from their home to school.
You can view a more comprehensive preview and purchase the entire lesson at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store: Where Is It? Lesson Plan: Practice Giving Directions on a Map. I always want to hear how people use these lessons in their classrooms and how I can improve my lessons, so feel free to leave me a comment here or feedback at my store!
This restaurant role play is how I teach beginner students to order at a restaurant. The goal of the lesson is to get them to do a role play of being at a restaurant, so the focus of the lesson is as communicative as possible. In addition, I have an intermediate/advanced level restaurant lesson that you can check out.
Restaurant roleplays are a great way to teach students survival skills. They also provide a basic customer service dialogue that they can modify. And I like how they absorb more complex grammar such as “would” without having to parse it just yet.
This full lesson plan helps ESL false beginners and low-level students practice ordering at a restaurant. The lesson includes:
complete teacher notes
an exercise that elicits key language
an exercise to write a sample dialogue
work with some target vocabulary and grammar
materials for a role play including sample menus and a sample dialogue for students to follow.
To give students practice ordering in a restaurant
To practice the structures “I would like” and “May I have”
These are my two favorite classroom posters. They provide great first day of school activities to help students get to know each other. What’s even better is that the bonding and team building goes beyond the first day. All by themselves, students start congregating around these posters to chat and talk about themselves.
The first poster invites students to share some words in their own language. By letting students bring their own language and identity in the classroom, you’re showing that you know they are more than the sum of what they can express in English and that learning English doesn’t mean forgetting their past. One of the big surprises with using this poster is how fast students start teaching each other words using English as their medium, of course. They start demanding to know things in English so they can translate into their own language! Furthermore, students start thinking about register, tone, difficulties of translating, pragmatics, and social context. Breaks and time before or after class will always find a student staring at this poster.
The second poster is a simple world map and I love this one I found with all the flags on it. A simple day one activity is to have students label their country with their name. Then have them look at the map and their classmates’ countries of origin. Get them to form at least one question about one other student’s country, such as what do you eat there, what is the weather like, why is your flag like that. Students find the person they want to ask and briefly share information about their home countries. This is another one that gets students hanging out during breaks, studying who is from where and discussing their countries of origin.
Clue by Clue: Murder of a Millionaire is one of my favorite mystery activities. It’s an original mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie. A wealthy businessman having a dinner party at his country house is found murdered. The catch? The room was locked from the inside!
Who did it?
His wife, who found out he was cheating on her? The secretive maid? His own business partner? You give the students the clues one by one. By the end, they have all the information they need to solve it.
Murder of a Millionaire is the longest Clue By Clue, with 22 clues. As with all clue by clue mysteries, students are given the situation to analyze. They are then given the clue cards, one at a time. In pairs or small groups, students analyze each clue to try to decide if it’s relevant or irrelevant and what it means. It’s a great way for students to practice critical thinking skills, such as evaluating evidence, synthesizing information from different clues, and also telling truth from lie and fact from opinion. (Check out my post on Why short mysteries make awesome critical thinking activities for more and a list of all my clue by clue activities).
You can also visit my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources, including a graphic organizer and story cards to help students write their own mysteries.
The Clue by Clue Mystery Bundle contains 7 of my Clue by Clue Mystery Activities. What is a Clue by Clue Mystery? It’s a great warm-up, filler, or time killer for early finishers. Students are given a mystery to solve–whodunit or how did they do it or why. They have to figure it out by reading a series of clues, one at a time. As they receive each clue, they speculate on its significance and what it tells them about the situation.
Once they have received all the clues, they should have enough information to figure it out!
Clue by Clues make great warm-up activities, fillers, or time killers for those last minutes of class and early finishers. They can be critical reading activities that teach students to read closely for details, synthesize information from different sources, apply prior knowledge about the world, and to recognize the logic of a claim and evaluate its validity.
They are also a lot of fun!
While students are solving the mysteries they are also developing their spoken language skills, such as:
* Modal verbs of speculation: She must have forgotten her keys, It could have been the butler
* Opinion language: I think…., I’m positive…, I’m not sure…
* Hedging: It’s possible, probably, maybe, it’s not impossible.
* Conclusions: That means that…
* Emphasis: There’s no way that…
* Hypotheticals: What if he didn’t do it; If he was at the movies, he couldn’t have done it.
Teacher Notes are included with hints and the solution along with a students sheet that contains the clues for you to copy and cut-up.
The activities included (with previews for each one) are: The Break-In