In my last post I looked at Halloween activities that can be used with kids in the EFL classroom. Today it’s the tweens/teens turn! When teaching young children, it’s often a better idea to focus on the Trick or Treat/dressing up/fun side of Halloween – and make sure your monsters aren’t too scary. With 12 year olds and older, you can go to town on the scary elements a little bit more (although still proceed with caution, not everyone has the same ‘scare tolerance’)!
If you’re teaching low-level teens, you can still use some of the activities in the kids post – the writing the daily routine of a vampire, ghost or witch for example. I’d be inclined to steer clear of anything that focuses too much on Halloween costumes though – whilst the teens I’ve taught have still loved sweets, they’ve all been far too cool for the idea of dressing up, and have found the idea of ‘real’ monsters, whether they exist or not, far more intriguing.
If you want to create any activities based around a text, the British Council’s Learn English Teens site has a nice text about various Halloween traditions, which also includes some online exercises and printable worksheets.
I also like the British Council’s video on How to Make Halloween Cupcakes. Although it might not be practical to actually make/decorate cupcakes in class (depending on where you teach – I’ve taught in some contexts where it would have been possible) this would fit in nicely with a unit on food and would give it a little Halloween twist. Students could answer comprehension questions based on the video, and then design food with a spooky theme for an imaginary Halloween party.
I’ve yet to meet a teen class which doesn’t love competition, and so if you’ve got access to technology (be it computers, students’ phones, or ipads) a webquest can be great fun, especially for a change. There’s a nice Halloween one available here. If you’ve never done one before, a webquest is effectively an extended reading comprehension exercise, where the students are given questions, but instead of being given a text are given a website to go to and find the answers. To up the competition element, I’d put them in pairs or small groups, give them a time limit, and offer a small prize to the group with the most correct answers in that space of time. You can also up the challenge a bit by insisting that they have to write answers using their own words, rather than simply copying swathes of text from the website. One small word of warning: check the weblinks given in advance to make sure they work properly.
Teen magazines (and for that matter coursebooks) often incorporate quizzes (along the lines of ‘Are you a good friend?’ etc) and it can be fun to give this idea a Halloween twist. One of my favourite Halloween lessons in the past has been using these Halloween quizzes from Lanternfish – ‘Are you a witch?’ and ‘Are you a werewolf?’. There is an ‘easy’ and a ‘difficult’ version which means that the activity can be adapted to various different levels, although I think I used the ‘difficult’ one with my intermediate teens. As a warmer, I asked my students to list all the Halloween ‘creatures’ they could think of, then to brainstorm all the information they could think of about witches and werewolves. They then read the quiz to find out which of their ideas were included in the text, before asking their partner the questions, which was met with howls of laughter! Finally they worked in pairs to write their own quiz along the same lines – there are templates on the same webpage for a witch, werewolf or vampire quiz, although I think I let my students choose their own creature so that they could use ghosts, monsters and zombies as well.
For those with projectors/interactive whiteboards in their classroom, there is a nice Jeopardy-style quiz game all about Halloween here.
As a final idea, ghost stories are always a great idea with teens. Again, Lanternfish has a nice activity (Haunted House Reading and Writing), but you could also use process writing to get your students to provide their own ideas, provide visual prompts or show or tell students part of a ghost story and ask them what happens next. It’s especially important to provide YL with an audience for writing tasks (not just the teacher) so I’d suggest either putting the stories around the room for the whole class to read, or having a ghost story telling session at the end of the lesson, where you dim the lights, play some scary background music, and the students read their stories aloud. The students could vote on the scariest story, and a prize be offered for the best one.
Check out the blog on Friday for my final post in this series – Halloween activities for adult EFL classes!