Updated: Nov 5
If you are a French Immersion teacher looking to keep your middle school students engaged on Halloween day, check out these classroom activities! This is my absolute favourite day of the year!
A little story from my childhood that may get you thinking: I remember walking into my class on Halloween at a young age, and excitedly asking the teacher: "What are we doing today?" The response I got absolutely crushed me "We're having a regular day." Honestly, I thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. We went on to have a completely regular day (while in costume). I know that we have a lot of teaching to do, and I get that. But these kids are only kids once, and I really believe that sometimes, we need to let go of the curriculum a little bit, and let them enjoy these special days. Don't get me wrong, they will still be "learning" today, but it will be a little different than a regular day, and that's ok for me.
Please note that some of the Halloween activities will take some time to prep, but they are to keep the students engaged and having fun, always! Are you looking for something even more engaging? Check out my bat cave classroom transformation (great for any time of year, but I enjoy doing it in October).
Halloween Classroom Activity #1: Zombie Infection
A1.1 use a scientific research process and associated skills to conduct investigations
A1.4 follow established health and safety procedures during science and technology investigations, including wearing appropriate protective equipment and clothing and safely using tools, instruments, and materials
For this first Halloween activity, you will need to purchase a few items:
2) Baking Soda
6) A pair of goggles for yourself
Ok, now that you have your materials, here is how your Halloween Experiment will work. Before students come in the morning, you will add water to all of their cups. In one cup, you will add a good amount of baking soda (and stir so that it dissolves). Place the cups somewhere out of reach of your students until you are set to start the activity. Place the cup with baking soda in a spot you won't forget.
When it's time for this activity, explain to students that one of them has become a zombie. Their job is to make everyone in the classroom a zombie. I tell them that they will each get a cup of water, as well as a transfer pipette and a pair of gloves. I MAKE SURE TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT THEY CAN NOT DRINK OUT OF THESE CUPS. When the music plays (I find a fun Halloween playlist on youtube), they will walk around the classroom. When the music stops, they will go to the person nearest them and transfer some of their liquid into their partner's cup (and vice versa). Then, they will keep walking until the music stops again. They can not have the same partner twice. I keep this going for around 10 minutes. Then, I stop the music completely and get them to all go sit at their desks. For added effect, I shut most of the lights and keep only a few little string lights on.
Once they are all seated, I tell them that if they have become a zombie, their drink will turn pink. If they have managed to stay away from the zombie, their liquid will stay clear.
One at a time, they come up, and hand me their cup, remove their gloves and wash their hands and return to their seats. I add gloves and goggles and add a drop of the phenolphthalein and we see what happens. Once everyone has gone, we notice that most if not all students have been contaminated. But why? Once the zombie infects one person, then really there are two people spreading the zombie disease and this continues and it spreads faster and faster as more people are infected. Can we figure out who our patient 0 was? Sometimes they can figure it out, sometimes they can't. We have a discussion on how cases of flu and colds and Covid spread, and also talk about why it's important to stay home if they are sick. I then make sure to discard the cups safely, get all students to wash their hands (even though they haven't touched the phenolphthalein) and remove my gloves and wash my hands as well.
This Science Activity is usually a big hit in my classroom!
Halloween Classroom Activity #2: Origami Dragon Eye
D1.2 demonstrate an understanding of composition, using selected principles of design to create narrative artworks or artworks on a theme or topic
D1.4 use a variety of materials, tools, techniques, and technologies to determine solutions to design challenges
Students will get to enjoy two activities (in whichever order they would like).
This Halloween Visual Arts Classroom Activity is to allow them to create an origami dragon eye (which they love for obvious reasons). I post the instructions on my Google Classroom for them to watch and do at their own pace and I also let them work in groups to help each other out. They will need their Chromebooks or iPads for this activity. This is a self-guided activity, I do not grade them and just let them enjoy the process with their friends.
Halloween Classroom Activity #3: Activity pack
I print the French No Prep Classroom Activity Pack and let students draw their own Halloween Selfies. You can also pick any of the other activities for them to do. For Grade 6, I found the selfie the best activity. For Grade 4, I printed the entire pack (without doing the origami eye) and let them have fun finishing the pack with their friends.
Halloween Classroom Activity #4: PUmpking Bombs
This last middle school Halloween Activity happens outside. You will need the following common ingredients:
1) Baking Soda
2) Corn Starch
4) Ziplock Bags (sandwich sized)
5) Orange Food Colouring
6) Permanent black marker
7) Toilet paper
Using the marker, draw a pumpkin face on the ziplock bags (I usually make 2 or 3 per class). Bring students outside. Add vinegar a third of the way with vinegar. Add a bit of cornstarch and orange food colouring to the bag and shake it to mix it. Seal your ziplock bag almost all the way, leaving room for the baking soda bomb.
Now, you will make a baking soda bomb. Add baking soda in the middle of 1 square of toilet paper and fold the paper into a ball.
Add the baking soda bomb, seal the ziplock bag completely (make sure it's well sealed), give it a good shake, and run! The kids think this is so funny. The bag will fill and pop and explode!
You can do it a second time, or allow students to have some extra free time outside until it is time to switch groups.
These classroom Halloween activities are sure to have your students talking about their day for months to come! I know my students have truly enjoyed these activities, time and time again!