There are pumpkins everywhere you look, costume plans are being discussed on social media, and the shops are filled with holiday goodies. In the classroom, students are ready - more than ready - for Halloween. They are certain to be engaged in anything to do with ghosts, horror houses, black cats or chocolate!
Do you bring Halloween - or other holidays and celebrations - into your classroom or not? You could say no, stick with regular lessons, insist that holidays are an 'out of classroom' thing. Or you could fall into a Pinterest spiral and plan All The Activities.
However, when it comes to holidays and celebrations, it can be really easy to fall into 'busywork' - worksheets with vague connections to the holiday or the work being covered in the classroom or craft activities which look fabulous, but don't really offer a lot of learning for middle grade students.
Busywork can provide links between holidays and the classroom, and they can keep students engaged and . . . well, busy. But are they the best way to mix celebrations and learning? Can teachers find better ways to mix holidays and curriculum?
One alternative option is Integrated Learning - searching for the deeper learning possibilities when connecting holidays with different learning areas. Sitting down with a pen and paper (or laptop or tablet!) to brainstorm connections, can leave you with some surprising - and fantastic - learning opportunities.
For example - here's a Halloween brainstorm:
These activities all offer opportunities for engaging, thoughtful learning - perfect for making any celebration memorable in your classroom.
Tips for Integrated Learning Planning
- You don't need to use all your ideas at the same time. Store some for later, share them with colleagues. Too much can be overwhelming for both you and your students.
- Try brainstorming in a team - bouncing ideas off each other can lead you in all sorts of interesting directions.
- Keep any required standards on hand. These can feel limiting, but the challenge of working with them can also be motivating - who doesn't like a challenge.
- Enjoy the celebrations!