Whenever Halloween is around the corner, ESL teachers have cause to be wickedly happy. Why? Because it’s the perfect time of the season to incorporate unique and fun games and exercises into your classroom! Check out these 10 ESL Halloween activities to get some ideas for young learners, teens, and adults learning English in the physical classroom or online.
Looking for game and activity ideas year-round? Check out the 10-hour online Micro-credential Games and Activities for the Online Classroom (Young Learners).
Halloween ESL games and activities for kids
1. Halloween Word Search
Every great ESL Halloween lesson plan should include a word search. This fun and relaxing activity is easy to explain and can help kids of all ages learn new vocabulary. You can create your own online word search for students learning remotely, or print out worksheets for the classroom.
2. Guess My Costume
Younger learners can also practice the season’s vocabulary with this ESL Halloween activity. Create a presentation where every slide is a classic Halloween costume, such as a black cat, a witch, or a pumpkin. Have the kids guess what each slide is showing and copy down the right answer for writing practice. Make sure you’re able to share your screen for online lessons!
3. Fill in the Blanks
You can create Halloween ESL worksheets to have students fill in the gaps in scary stories. Write your own or browse online for a simple story where students have to fill in certain words. You can use stories with a word bank or even opt for silly Mad Libs! At the end, have students read the story aloud to you.
If creating your own story, you can choose to make the verb the missing word in the sentence so that kids can practice the past or present tense instead of vocabulary. Always remember that ESL Halloween activities can easily incorporate grammar!
Looking for effective instructional approaches for your ESL classroom? Watch the on-demand Expert Series webinar, Breaking Down TESOL’s Top Methodologies: Busting the Myth that One Fits All. You can also browse through a growing library of recorded sessions – or sign up to join the next live webinar!
4. Draw Your Costume
For this activity, ask your students what their favorite Halloween costume is and why. Then, have them create a picture of themselves in the costume and describe it to you in detail. Pay close attention to adjectives such as color, size, and other features.
5. Halloween Story Video
One of the best Halloween ESL activities involves watching spooky videos. Students can practice their oratory skills by describing what they see, and watching videos also helps them learn new vocabulary. Choose a YouTube video, like the one below, that your students can watch in person or virtually, and pause it every time you notice a scene with many objects and characters. Have the students write a list of everything they see and reveal it at the end. Since kids love Halloween ESL games, you can even turn it into a competition to see who has the longest or most accurate list.
Halloween ESL lessons for adults or teens
6. Halloween History Quiz
At the start of every ESL Halloween lesson, you should dive into the history of the festivity, so prepare a presentation or video about the subject, and then quiz students with a true or false game. For bonus points, whenever they guess “false,” make them tell you what the actual answer is.
Here’s an example video you could use for this activity:
Looking for more games and activities for your ESL adults? Check out the 10-hour online Micro-credential Games and Activities for the Online Classroom (Adults).
7. Ghost Story Time
Halloween ESL lessons for adults and teens can be a bit more mature in content. So, prepare a short horror story that students can take turns reading out loud. You can either create your own story or use a classic, like Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart or Charles Dickens’ The Signal-Man. After you have cleared any vocabulary doubts, you can test students’ reading comprehension by asking them questions about what they’ve just read.
If you want to challenge adult or teen learners even more, leave the ending to the ghost story open. Ask your students to describe what they think eventually happened.
Like incorporating storytelling in the classroom? Learn more about the increasingly popular language acquisition strategy of TPRS.
8. Words in a Word
For this activity, you can prepare Halloween ESL worksheets with themed words such as “Frankenstein,” “ghost,” and “haunted.” Have your students find other words within these and make a list. For example, if the word is “pumpkin,” students could list the words “pump,” “kin,” “pin” and so on. If you have more than one student during this game, turn it into a competition to see who comes up with the most correct answers.
9. Favorite Halloween Movie
One of the best parts about ESL Halloween activities is that you can talk about movies! You don’t even have to enjoy horror flicks to watch films like The Addams Family or Hocus Pocus. Ask your adult students what their favorite Halloween movies are and why. You can also watch trailers or parts of the movie and pause during a specific scene to have students describe what they can see.
Love pop culture? Find out about eight ways to use pop culture in the ESL classroom.
10. Tradition Description
Halloween is primarily an American tradition filled with pumpkins and trick-or-treating. Keep in mind that your ESL students will probably come from other countries, so they may not celebrate Halloween or may celebrate differently. Using Halloween as an example, instruct them to prepare a few sentences describing a tradition in their home country. Ask them if there’s a specific date, typical food, and traditional decor, as is the case with Halloween in the United States. For example, students from Mexico can dive into Dia de los Muertos, while those from China can describe their New Year. This oral activity is a great way to practice grammar, vocabulary, and ESL pronunciation.
Halloween is one of those traditions that can be very enjoyable for ESL teachers. Whether you’re preparing online lessons or teaching at the front of a classroom, there are many fun and interesting activities to guarantee a memorable spooky season.