Trying to keep your students engaged and motivated for learning during Halloween and fall? You’ll love these simple, easy-to-implement tips and strategies.
Ready to take advantage of students’ Halloween excitement and motivation – and direct that energy towards math and academics?
So am I!
The best part about autumn, Halloween, and the upcoming holidays is that you can harness that fun feeling that’s in the air during this time of year. Use it to your advantage with these quick, simple (and very little prep!!) Halloween activities. Here are the best ways to motivate students for learning during Halloween and fall.
Tip #1: Keep Students Focused
Students do best when they keep to the typical structure and routine. Unfortunately, we all know what happens when we replace our daily procedures and schedules. That’s when students forget the rules, and trouble starts to brew. My best advice is to stick with daily routines while adding a splash of fun, Halloween, or fall-oriented lessons.
Tip #2: Halloween and Fall-Oriented Lessons
It can be easy to keep to your typical everyday routine while sprinkling in some holiday and seasonal magic! Add some Halloween and seasonal books, stories, and articles instead of your usual reading book or passages. Use some fun, high-interest coloring and activity pages instead of working on routine addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in your math workbook.
Looking for some multiplication facts practice pages? These fun coloring pages featuring multiplication facts are fun and engaging for students – plus, they make a great bulletin board or locker decoration.
Teachers Pay Teachers has so many different types of resources – games, plays, crafts – that you’re sure to find something that would add to your students’ learning while upping their motivation levels.
Tip #3: Movement in the Classroom
Have you noticed that your students just can’t sit still as we get closer to major holidays? Yeah, mine too!
So, let’s just go with it! Let’s get them up and moving in a controlled, educational kind of way.
One of my favorite ways to get kids moving (in a productive way) is by using task cards!
Task cards are versatile because they’re low prep – high engagement activities students view as games. You can tape them to walls, floors, and doors around the room for fun. Students move from card to card in a controlled way until time runs out or they’ve answered a certain number of cards. Because students are moving, their interest is piqued, and they’re instantly more engaged.
Task cards are so versatile. You can divide students into small groups, the class can play together as a group, or students can play individually to focus on their skills.
These Halloween task cards feature 20 Halloween multiplication story problems FOR BEGINNERS who are just learning multiplication facts. The Halloween theme makes learning multiplication even more fun. Great for Halloween games and activities, such as Scoot and even board games.
Need some ideas about HOW to use task cards in your classroom? Check out this FREE guide!
You’ll love the versatility and differentiation that task cards offer to students and teachers. Plus, there are so many different ways to use task cards in classrooms. Find new ways to incorporate them into games and activities. Differentiation is easy, and students become independent learners.
Tip #4: Classroom crafts and art projects
I LOVE getting creative in the classroom, but I’ll be honest. I’m not the most creative person in the world. Lucky for me, Pinterest was put on this earth to save us time. A few minutes on Pinterest can provide me with more ideas than I’d ever come up with on my own.
But here’s one of my favorite Halloween activities – students love this engaging atmosphere for learning about fictional narratives.
I always plan to teach fictional narratives in the cool autumn weeks leading up to Halloween.
We read many short stories together on the carpet and dissected them as a class. More specifically, that means we talked about what we liked and admired about each story, why we liked it or didn’t like it, and how the author used certain words. It’s a deep dive into the author’s craft.
During these same weeks, I extend the lesson by encouraging students to use these same techniques in their own fictional narratives.
We brainstorm lists of descriptive words – adjectives, verbs, etc., and I type them up. Students love seeing their own words and phrases used by other students, and it promotes the idea that they can be successful writers and authors.
Our culminating activity involves a roaring campfire (from Youtube.com) on the Smartboard and a mini 3-D campfire on the floor. I have some Halloween and autumn lanterns that light up, and we close the blinds to create just the right atmosphere. I love creating classroom scenes, and it keeps students motivated to learn.
We even practice reading our stories in “just the right” voice and tone. For example, if it’s a scary story, students are expected to use voice changes to add suspense.
Tip #5: Behavior Management and Rewards
Sometimes you need a quick-fix behavior management idea to keep students motivated for learning through days leading up to holidays. I’ve got two quick behavior management strategies for you that both work in the short term.
I’ll start with the easiest. Choose a holiday word, like H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N, and write each letter on your whiteboard or anywhere front and center for students to see.
When students talk or get noisy, erase a letter – no need to even say a single word to them. When they’re caught being good, add a letter. Make it a game and challenge them to keep all of the letters by the end of the day.
Almost as Easy, But Not Quite:
This behavior management tool takes a small amount of prep time but is still quick and easy. First, print out a photo at least the size of a full sheet of paper so students can see it easily. Next, laminate it if you plan to reuse it. Then cut it into six pieces. Of course, you may choose to use more or fewer pieces.
The class is rewarded with a puzzle piece when students are caught being good. Students “win” when all puzzle pieces are awarded and the picture is complete. You can also use this method to reward specific behaviors.
In the picture below, I’ve used a variety of autumn and Halloween photos as examples.
Reward Good Behavior – A Lot!
I’m a huge fan of free, “no-frills” rewards – like a few extra minutes of iPad/computer time or recess, reading a favorite book, working on assignments sitting in the rolly chair or bean bag chair, etc.
Sometimes, however, I like to use small, tangible rewards for something different. Holiday time is an excellent time for this because you can get large amounts of holiday erasers, pencils, and knick-knacks pretty inexpensively. So I often hand out small holiday erasers, pencils, stickers, chocolate kisses, little plastic party favors, notepads, necklaces or rings, etc.
I want my students to be motivated to push themselves and do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do – BUT – there are certainly days when little incentives like stickers and candies can be lifesavers for frazzled teachers.
Tip #6: Brain Breaks
If you reach a point where your students need a brain break, try these on for size:
If your students are into drawing, this How to Draw an Autumn or Fall Scene for Kids video will get them started. And this video will guide students step-by-step to Draw a Haunted House by Art for Kids Hub– who can resist that?
Tip #7: Remember to Have Fun!
This is the time to search Pinterest for fun ideas, brain breaks, crafts, and activities. Plus, a quick trip to Walmart can get you some fun toy glasses, silly necklaces, or spooky rings for students to wear while reading, writing, or working on math. The silly headbands can be worn by students who are the class leaders during an activity or for the whole day. You wouldn’t believe how motivating that can be for some students!
Finally, sometimes students need some quiet coloring or independent seatwork. There are some free Halloween and autumn activities, printables, and worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers to try out.
Finally – enjoy this WILD and CRAZY time in your classroom!
This is the time of year that special relationships with our class and students really take off and blossom. We teachers (and administrators) need to chill and remember that kids really do need to be kids!
Students benefit the most from educational and FUN activities that encourage students’ creativity and artistic sides.
Most importantly ~
››› HAPPY AUTUMN! ››› HAPPY FALL! ››› HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ›››