Incorporating holidays and seasonal events into the classroom can make learning fun and interesting! Especially for 3rd-5th grade students. This post shares ideas on Halloween read-alouds and activities for upper elementary.
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The Best Halloween Read-Alouds for Upper Elementary
Let’s kick things off with some of my favorite Halloween-themed books.
- Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear both by Aaron Reynolds. These books have a surprise ending that make the stories relatable to kids.
- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbel goes through the life cycle of a pumpkin. 🎃 This book leads so well into a STEM activity for October!
Plus, you can use this book to review life-cycles if you teach science.
In addition to the books above, I adore Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz. (shown below) This book tells the story of a “pumpkin” that is actually a squash.
Since any hard-skinned squash can technically be considered a type of pumpkin, this fictional book also teaches several nonfiction facts about pumpkins.
This also makes hands-on learning and an object lesson on pumpkins easy to include.
So I enjoy bringing different sizes, colors, and shapes of pumpkins in class for observation when we read this book.
Get in the true Halloween spirit and check out these fun Halloween costumes for teachers!
Social-Emotional Learning with Halloween Activities
Not only that, but the moral of the story is that you can be different and that’s ok!
These type of Halloween read-alouds and activities make wonderful social-emotional learning resources as well.
I also recommend using this book to address the power of words.
Calling someone ugly just because they don’t look like you hurts and shouldn’t be allowed in class.
Fun & Academic Halloween Literacy Centers
If you’ve spent any amount of time on this site, you know how much I LOVE literacy centers!
I absolutely believe that upper elementary classrooms should have centers or what others call stations.
Incorporating holiday-themed centers also keeps the learning fun for students.
One example is using the Halloween poetry book Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters by Rachel Kolar.
Yes, you read that correctly–Halloween + Poetry! 🙌🏽 👻
Why wait until National Poetry Month to introduce your students to poems?
This Halloween read-aloud takes popular nursery rhymes and rewrites them with a “scary” twist.
But they aren’t really scary!
Each poem is easy to read, and I love giving my students writing templates so that they can write their own Halloween poems during this literacy center.
Halloween Math Activities for Upper Elementary
Even though this post mainly focuses on Halloween reading, I LOVE combining math with reading.
One fun, easy way to do that is with mystery pictures.
I give my students nonfiction reading passages about “Creepy Creatures” that are relevant during Halloween like spiders, bats, and snakes.
But in order for them to see the pictures of these creatures, they must solve math problems.
Each math answer puts the pictures together like a puzzle.
They get engaging reading and math practice that relates to having fun for Halloween in the classroom.
A Halloween Word-Work & Phonics Activity
Another Halloween literacy center activity involves practice with silent letters.
One of the great things about small group instruction is that you can differentiate it to meet students’ needs.
And there are upper elementary students who need more practice with phonics and spelling.
Since “ghosts” are common around Halloween and the word ghost has silent letters, I use this for a literacy center in October.
This Halloween activity also connects well with any read-aloud.
Once students finish finding each silent letter word, I give them cards titled “Silent Letter Scavenger Hunt” where they look for more kn-, -mb, silent h, wr-, and gh- words in our Halloween books.
Which is great for early finishers and it allows students to be independent during our center rotations.
Connecting Inferencing with Halloween Reading
Just because you’re including Halloween read-alouds and activities in class doesn’t mean you throw rigor and academic standards out the window.
So another literacy center idea for October is to use Halloween Inference Challenges!
Inferencing is one of my favorite reading skills to teach because it is so closely connected to strong comprehension.
Here’s how I connect it with Halloween:
- Students get digital task cards about different “symbols” or characters that are popular for Halloween.
- But the task card doesn’t directly say what the symbol or character is.
- As kids read the description, they must also use their background knowledge to figure out what each card is about.
This Halloween reading center gives your kiddos a fun way to celebrate Halloween in class, while also improving their reading skills.
Diverse Reading Books for Fall and Halloween
As you may know from spending any time on this site, I firmly believe in establishing a culturally responsive classroom.
Diversity isn’t just for certain days or months of the year. It’s for the entire year.
So, I highly recommend incorporating diverse Halloween read-alouds.
Using different Halloween diverse reads can be extended into a writing activity. Ask students to write their family traditions or routines around Halloween.
This will also include students who don’t celebrate Halloween. Several of the diverse reads for Halloween showcase various cultural traditions that go beyond trick-or-treating.
Kids love it when you decorate the classroom with a spooky Halloween theme! Check out these fun classroom decorations.
More Learning Ideas to Use During October
Hopefully you found a book or idea in this post that’s useful for Halloween fun, but Halloween isn’t until the end of October!
To keep students engaged with reading and learning throughout October, I also use informational text quick-reads.
These nonfiction passages talk about other topics that are popular during the month of October.
Each one leads up to some of the books and activities we use for Halloween as well.
Some examples of popular October topics are:
1– Fire Prevention Week
2–Where Does Halloween Even Come From?
3–Thanksgiving in Canada
4–The Monarch Butterfly: Migrating Geniuses
5– Mole Day, But Not The Furry Mole!
6–World Teachers’ Day
8–Gone Batty!–Information on Bats
9–Pumpkins (which I combine with the Halloween read aloud Pumpkin Jack that I mentioned above!)
10–Hispanic Heritage Month (I have a separate post all about celebrating this month HERE!)
You may want to check out the full set if you need more October ideas beyond Halloween activities.
Happy Halloween / October Teaching 🦇