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Classroom Activities: Halloween Party Alternatives

Janelle Cox

You may remember dressing up for Halloween and parading around your school when you were a child.

While this tradition was a typical childhood experience for many us, it seems to have increasingly faded out over the past decade or so. Today, many families do not celebrate Halloween due to religious beliefs, and some schools (who try to accommodate all families) even ban Halloween parties altogether!

If you are one of those teachers who loves the excitement of Halloween but your school does not allow celebrations, don’t fret. There are plenty of creative alternatives to the traditional Halloween classroom activities. Here are a few to try.

Children’s Book Character Parade

Staff and students can dress up as characters from their favorite books and march through the hall in a parade. Another alternative classroom activity is to have each class choose a book, and students can dress up as the characters or the themes from it. For example, if students just read the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” the teacher can dress up as the mouse and the students can dress up as the cookies.

Another cute book is the “Grouchy Ladybug” book. The teacher dresses up as the ladybug and each student can represent a different animal or time on the clock. Students reading chapter books like “The Magic Tree House” series can dress up like book themes, or the main characters Jack and Annie.

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Career Day

Much like the character parade, this Halloween party alternative encourages students to dress up like the professional (veterinarian, police officer, doctor, teacher, etc.) they would like to be when they grow up. Some alternatives to career day are:

  • Presidents’ day, where students dress up like a famous president.
  • Famous person day, where students dress up like their favorite famous person (Christopher Columbus, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, etc.).
  • State or country day, where students dress up like one of the 50 states, or their favorite country.

Vocabulary Day

Vocabulary day has become a very popular alternative on October 31, since the publishing of Debra Frasier’s book, “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster.” Students choose a word from a teacher created list, and design a creative interpretation of that word for their costume.

Vocabulary day is a fun way for students of all ages in all grades to get to learn new words. When thinking of a creative costume, students must be able to define the word in a creative manner. For example, if a student chose the word “miscellaneous,” he can interpret this word into a costume by placing a collection of unrelated objects onto his clothing.

Fall Festival, or “Falloween” Celebrations

To many, Halloween represents witches, ghosts, and goblins. Many schools and religions deem these things as incompatible with their beliefs, so many schools have adopted “Falloween.” This is where autumnal things like cornucopias, pumpkins, apples, and leaves replace the stereotypical Halloween themes.

Falloween celebrations can include harvest parties, field trips to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard, fall-themed pumpkin activities, and learning about plant life and nocturnal animals. Schools decorate with pumpkins and corncobs, have fall-themed parades, and plan parties where students bring in fall-themed foods instead of sugary Halloween treats.

Fall Fun Day

Another fun Halloween party alternative is to have a “Fall Fun Day.” Each classroom chooses a theme, and students rotate throughout the day to take part in fun activities. Here is an example of a typical Fall Fun Day.

  • Classroom #1 – Students play fall bingo or another fall-themed independent game.
  • Classroom #2 – Students make a fall craft such as pressing a leaf on paper, or using vegetables as stamps.
  • Classroom #3 – Students count and sort pumpkin seeds.
  • Classroom #4 – Students make and eat tasty treats from pumpkins and apples.
  • Classroom #5 – Students play fun games, such as harvest dash, gourd dash, or pumpkin relay.

There are plenty of Fall-themed alternatives that teachers can find or create that can easily replace the traditional Halloween celebration. With a little forethought and creativity, you can easily engage students in fun, yet educational activities.

Do you celebrate Halloween in your classroom? If not, what is your Halloween party alternative? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.