4 Classroom Alternatives to Celebrating Halloween

4 Classroom Alternatives to Celebrating Halloween

If you are a teacher, then you know that Halloween is a super exciting time for kids! And by super exciting I mean SUPER exciting!

Let's be honest, Halloween and costume talk usually starts mid-September and lasts a long time. And while sometimes it is fun to do a Halloween activity here or there, most classrooms do not focus on Halloween. In fact, some schools and classrooms do not celebrate Halloween at all.

So how can we harness all that holiday excitement? These high-interest topics and activities are great alternatives to celebrating Halloween in your classroom. Students will be so hooked they won't even realize that they are learning and that Halloween is on the horizon.

All things Autumn

pumpkin activities for upper elementary

The best alternative to Halloween is definitely the season of fall! With autumn all around us, students are equally excited about all things fall-related. From apple picking to pumpkin patches and everything in between, kids love the changes that the season of fall brings.

One way we love to celebrate fall in the classroom is by going on a leaf hunt to find different colored leaves. We use our leaves to inspire us to write poetry focusing on the colors of fall. This activity makes a great connection to the science topic of why leaves change color. 

  1. Start the lesson by watching THIS video. You can have students take notes about why leaves color or you can collect information as a class.
  2. When you are done watching the video, head outside for a fall walk and have students collect a wide range of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors.
  3. Try a leaf rubbing art activity to inspire your students' poetry.
  4. This easy how to video will help your leaf rubbings turn into a true work of art!
  5. Grab the FREE fall poetry writing activity and hang up on your bulletin board to celebrate your students' art and writing, and fall too, all season long!

Go even further by tying together many science topics and autumn with THIS VIDEO

Another way I love to celebrate all things fall in my classroom during the Halloween season is through fall-focused picture books! Make these books a focus in your classroom by tying them with standards that you already have to teach! And bonus you can use one book in many ways to save time and make the most of just one book! #teacherwin

Too Many Pumpkins Aligned Activities

My favorite fall read-aloud books and activities for upper elementary are:

Find even more fall favorite read alouds here!

Is it Creepy?

Creepy Animal Study and Close Reading

We all love to get scared, right? Especially during the Halloween season! But are so-called creepy things, really that creepy? Let your students find out! Have students read about animals that get a bad rep and decide for themselves if creepy animals really are that creepy! 

You can have students research the top creepy animals and learn on their own or use these nonfiction reading articles. These articles do not mention Halloween at all, but instead, focus on real-world creepy animals that your students will love to read about!

Students will read and then decide:

  • Are Tarantulas Terrible?
  • Are Vampire Bats Vicious?
  • Are Venus Fly Traps Terrifying?
  • Are Goblin Sharks Gross?

These reading activities are a great way to keep students working hard and engaged throughout the month of October. With four articles you can study one animal a week, or break students up into groups and have each group learn about one animal and then present what they learned to the class.

Let's Study the Moon

Learn about the Moon Upper elementary

When it comes to a spooky Halloween scene, there is one thing that is always there...a full moon! Why not dive deep into studying the moon during the Halloween season?

Whether you just want to do a little reading on the phases and moon observations or do a deep dive into the moon, students will love watching how the moon changes over time. 

Here are some ways to study the moon with your students this season:

Studying about the moon is always engaging and even more engaging during the Halloween season.

All Things Scarecrows 

Scarecrow Activities for Upper Elementary

There are so many ways to bring scarecrows into the classroom, but my favorite way is with writing!

You can use the topic of scarecrows for every genre of writing! Try one of these prompt ideas:

  • Imaginative Narrative: Have students write about the day their scarecrow came alive! How did it come alive? What did they do with their scarecrow? 
  • Descriptive Narrative: Have students create a scarecrow illustration and write a descriptive fall piece about the scarecrow.
  • Poetry: Have students write an acrostic poem using the word SCARECROW. Make it challenging by using one of these acrostic poem ideas.
  • Informative Writing: Have your students write a how-to procedural piece about how to make the perfect scarecrow.
  • Persuasive Writing: Have students create a scarecrow that reflects their favorite activity, hobby, sport, book, or any topic. Then have students write a persuasive piece to persuade their readers to take up that hobby or read that book. Go further by having students vote on a winning scarecrow.

Scarecrow activities that are tied to fall read alouds help to bring your students' writing to life! My favorite scarecrow read alouds for upper elementary are:

You can use the Scarecrow's Dance to teach reading, writing, and word work, all while celebrating fall, scarecrows, and an amazing picture book.

The Scarecrow's Dance Aligned Activities

My favorite activities that go along perfectly with a read aloud of The Scarecrow's Dance written by Jane Yolen include:

  • Reading: Focus on Visualzing 
  • Writing: Focus on writing with Vivid Verbs
  • Word Work: Focus on Possessive Nouns

What I especially love about reading and writing about scarecrows is that it can be completed all fall season long!

BONUS IDEA: Celebrate Red Ribbon Week! 

Have you heard of Red Ribbon Week?

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated each year starting October 23rd and ending on Halloween. It is a nationwide drug prevention initiative. Celebrating Red Ribbon Week means that you are committed to helping students stay drug-free! 

Many schools have assemblies, fun competitions, and themed activities all week long to help students learn about the dangers of drugs. Each year the theme for Red Ribbon changes making it always interesting for our kids!

  • Learn more about Red Ribbon Week HERE.
  • Grab high-interest Red Ribbon Week activities HERE.

Skipping Halloween does not mean that engagement needs to end! These Halloween alternatives are a great way to still get into the spirit of Halloween without having to celebrate. Which way will you get into the spirit of Halloween without celebrating it?

Looking for more high-interest  Fall activities for your classroom like this writing project? See more HERE.

Fall themed activities for upper elementary

LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!

Non holiday fall activities for kids

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