Halloween is such a special time for many students. How do you celebrate Halloween during a pandemic when you are trying to physically distance? What happens when everything about Halloween becomes a safety hazard because you have to socially distance?
In past years we’ve had parades, assemblies and handed out candy. I mean, there was a time when bobbing for apples was a good idea. Now the thought of countless students scrambling to bite into an apple floating around in a tub full of mouth germs…ugg.
Our classroom is usually bustling with parent volunteers who help out at different Halloween themed stations, but this year none of that will be possible since parent volunteers cannot enter the school as long as pandemic restrictions are in place.
If your school and students are celebrating Halloween, here are some safe and generally easy ways to have a little fun.
Celebrate With Physically Distanced Halloween Themed Subject Areas
You’ve already taught your students the routine of receiving and completing work on their own whether it’s in your classroom or online. Use that to your advantage by bringing the Halloween theme into your daily routine.
A simple math worksheet can have a Halloween theme to make the day more fun, but keep kids apart. Try out these Halloween Math Worksheets for Grade 3, Grade 4 or Grade 5. They feature basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division along with other skills like fractions, graphing, area, perimeter and word problems.
Best part? Worksheets are easy to prepare.
The Grade 3 set includes place value, addition/subtraction (with regrouping up to 999), multiplication/division (with arrays up to 5 x 5 = 25), bar graphs, concrete patterns, word problems and representing simple fractions.
Our Grade 4 set includes addition/subtraction (with regrouping up to 9 999), multiplication/division (up to 7 x 7 = 49), bar graphs, pictographs, concrete patterns, rounding, decimal operations, word problems, representing simple fractions and equivalent fractions.
The Grade 5 set includes addition/subtraction (with regrouping with numbers up to 99 999), multiplication/division (up to 9 x 9 = 81), double bar graphs, rounding, decimal addition and subtraction to thousandths, symmetry, word problems, ordering fractions and calculating perimeter.
If you’re looking to spice up the worksheets even more, check out our post: Math Worksheet Games Your Students Will Crave. We wrote post before physical distancing was an issue, but many of the games will still work in your face to face classroom or online.
Halloween Reading and Writing
Do a little Halloween writing or study some paragraphs to learn about the main idea and supporting details. This Halloween Reading and Writing Activities set comes with an entire week of Halloween themed writing prompts so you can write all the way up to Halloween (there are 15 prompts in total). Even though this is a short product, there’s more than a week worth of activities to use in your language arts class. We’ve also included some puzzles in this set.
We designed our Types of Sentences lesson to help students understand the purpose of punctuation. This Halloween themed activity features task cards where students will go around the room the identify each type of sentence. Since that won’t work during a pandemic, we created a Google Slides version so you can show the cards on a projector instead of having students move or handle the cards.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, Halloween Logic Puzzles are the way to go. We made our puzzles available to teachers who want to print them like worksheets, but we also made digital versions so students can solve them online.
Celebrate Halloween with Art
We’ve been collecting art lessons to do in the weeks leading up to Halloween for years. In fact, we created an entire set! Our Halloween Inspired Art Projects use materials that are commonly found in most classrooms. They can usually be done in just an hour or two (though a few have to dry overnight).
Design a Haunted House was a project we did in class back when we didn’t have to worry about social distancing. This might be something your students can do at home on their own since it uses pretty common supplies. Students would need access to recycled newspaper, flour, and masking tape.
The premise is that students will create various three dimensional objects and assemble them into a papier mache haunted house. Just warn the adults in your students’ homes because this one can get messy.
Twist Up Old Ideas to Celebrate a Physically Distanced Halloween
Instead of bobbing for apples, try dangling donuts. Buy a few packages of mini glazed donuts and with very clean hands, thread a piece of fishing line through the middle. Use fishing line as it can be wiped down more easily than string or yarn. Tie the string to one end of a sanitized metre stick so that it looks like a fishing pole.
Attach the metre stick to a surface so that the donut hangs around the height of your students. A good place might be a shelf. If you don’t have a high enough place, your students could kneel or lay down to play.
Everyone else can stay in their place while the student who is playing can try to bite the donut off the fishing line. After each student, replace the string and wipe down the area.
It might be easier to thread the donuts the day before. If you make the line as a loop, you can just hang a new donut between students.
Poo Poo the Parade
Instead of a parade inside, consider a neighbourhood walk. Now, if you live in a wintery climate like we do, this might mean there isn’t much of the costume left once everyone is bundled up.
Twist this by asking the adults in your students’ lives to consider a simple costume that can be worn over outdoor clothing for the walk. Keep it simple, but let your neighbourhood know you’re coming for a walk. Your students will appreciate waves from windows.
One of our friends is planning a twist on this, by having students parade around the school and wave into the windows of classrooms. If your building has a setup like this, try this option.
Twist the Treats
Instead of handing out candy, prepare a pouch of goodies before school. Send the goodies prepackaged for students to eat at home. Try to choose items that can be wiped down if parents feel the need.
Instead of having a party full of homemade goodies, consider collecting donations and then purchasing packaged foods. The benefit to this is that you can also control the amount of sugar and junk students eat while you have to control them. Granola bars, fruit snacks and package dairy like cheese strings or yogurt tubes are a little more healthy than the traditional bowls of chips and cupcakes.
Tell a Spooky Story
Turn down the lights and play some eerie music while you read a spooky story to your students.
Of course, the age and personalities of your students’ matter, so respect the students that don’t like this type of activity.
Record yourself reading a section from one of Haunted Canada books. Our students love these books. In fact, we’ve had to buy multiple copies of each set because they are regularly read to death.
If you’re not familiar with this series, it’s a collection of short stories from all over Canada that are creepy and scary, but not so graphic that children can’t enjoy them. We do not recommend them below Grade 4, but over the years we’ve seen younger students reading them.
Get a Thrill
A few years ago, we had a group of students that were obsessed with Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Some of the kids wanted to learn the dance to so a flash mob.
Now the flash mob probably won’t work during a pandemic, but your students could learn some of the moves. It’s just a simple search on YouTube to find the steps. We used Beginner Dance Tutorials. You may have to modify a few of the steps for the size of your room.
If your gymnasium is available, you could spread out. When you do the dance, record the performance so parents can watch.
Maybe your students like to dance. Maybe you don’t have the time or space to learn a choreographed dance. Instead, consider putting on some music and dance on the spot. There are lots of dance videos for kids on YouTube.
Upside-down and Backwards Drawing
In past years we’ve played the mummy wrapping game where students wrap a classmate in toilet paper. With toilet paper at a premium, that is out.
We came up with a completely new game (not really) where students can play socially distanced. Collect a list of items students can draw simply (nothing too difficult). The teacher (or person running the game) will write one item at a time on a whiteboard. Show the item to the student doing the drawing. Erase the board between students.
One student comes to the front and draws a picture on the board. The catch, the student faces the class instead of the board. They have to draw the image above their head. The rest of the class will guess.
Erase the board and sanitize the whiteboard pen in between students.
Keep Costumes Simple
In the past, we’ve had a rule that costumes that come to school need to be student-friendly, meaning students can handle them without adult support. We made that rule after one parent sent makeup and asked up to apply it. We’re all for helping, but multiply that by twenty-eight students. Plus, if we’re socially distancing, face makeup is not something you want to handle.
If wearing costumes isn’t an option, have students draw a picture of the world’s best costume.
Ask Your Students How They Want to Celebrate Halloween
This is probably one of the best things we ever learned to do. Ask your students what they would like to do.
Set up some of the realistic criteria for your classroom. For example, do masks have to be worn, will eating be allowed, can students sit somewhere specifically, can it be done indoors or outdoors?
You make the criteria (with the help of your students) and then ask students to brainstorm ideas for how you can celebrate together.
Maybe you’ll be surprised by their suggestions. Once there’s a list, you can nudge them toward picking the idea that you would like to do.
Halloween is supposed to be fun and if you’re already stressing about what to do, then maybe you should just keep it very simple. It’s supposed to be fun. And, if you think of something cool that other teachers would benefit from, please let us know in the comments below.
And if you’re looking for a few more ideas, we have another post called Alternative Ideas for Halloween which focuses on things you can do to celebrate Halloween that isn’t just a “sit and eat junk food” party.