Halloween is my favorite holiday. No contest! Every year in my classroom for autistic children I would go absolutely crazy in both September and October doing a Halloween-based theme for two whole months. I was crazy about Halloween but I was also crazy about seeing my students make progress, and this was always one of the most exciting times of the year in terms of student growth.
You see, I didn’t just scatter some decorations here and there. No, I made materials that addressed every teaching domain for children with autism: language and literacy, math, fine motor, leisure and play, gross motor/PE, science, art, circle time/morning meeting, communication, sensory. I would then incorporate these activities into the entire school day.
Read on to find out why you should do this, too!
Why go to this much trouble? The first thing you may wonder is why you should go to all of this trouble for one holiday. This is a lot of work for a relatively short period of time, especially for special ed teachers. There are several reasons.
First, Halloween is exciting, new, and therefore motivating. Kids are easily bored, so imagine their delight when they see that you have changed the classroom routines to include so many new things. When kids are engaged, they learn.
Second, Halloween is everywhere you go. Autistic individuals are often overwhelmed in public places and may hyperfocus on one detail, so this exposes them to these things in a way that makes going out in public easier and more meaningful, as well as desensitizing them to things that might be scary.
Third, it is an excellent time to work on generalization of concepts. By embedding these activities into your entire day, you provide an excellent opportunity for your students to learn new vocabulary and concepts.
Fourth, you will be building a theme unit of activities that you can use year after year.
Finally, it’s FUN! Fun for students, fun for adults—and fun is the magic ingredient to a great classroom!
But I have no time!
You may be wondering how you will ever find the time to create all of the materials necessary for these activities. You won’t. But that’s ok! Every year you will add more until you have a full bin of exciting Halloween theme materials, all of which can be connected to state and learning standards. As you dive into this wide-open topic, you will learn the benefits of theme teaching.
Keep checking back on this page for tips on how to substitute materials or how to streamline the process. We have lots of tips and tricks, gathered from decades of working with classrooms all over the country.
We have your back!
Some people feel intimidated by the thought of being creative. We have your back! Below you will find a link to our library of tasks in a variety of domains, from simple to complex. We have free downloads galore—with more arriving on this site every few days, as well as other products on our Teachers Pay Teachers store or Etsy shop. So, jump in, explore, and try some new activities. Most of all, have fun…and your students will have fun, too!