You’ve seen it–that magical moment when you students just “clicked” with your lesson. They were engaged, even if just for a few brief moments, instead of daydreaming or wishing they could be texting their friends.
Adapting your lesson to a Halloween theme is more likely to engage them. Kids are already fascinated by Halloween. Connect your science lesson to it, and they will be more engaged and interested.
The holiday becomes a catalyst for engagement.
How to adapt your lessons
Three simple steps:
Step 1. Look at the lessons you have planned for the next two weeks.
Are there any demonstrations you will do? A small modification may be all you need to turn it into a Halloween-based science lesson.
Step 2. Look for connections to Halloween: pumpkins, smoke, goo, colors, or mixtures.
Can you do the experiment inside a pumpkin? I’ve seen the classic baking powder + vinegar demonstration called a Halloween experiment because it was done inside a pumpkin.
Witches Brew and Potions
Does the demonstration involve mixing anything together? That can be called witches brew or potion.
Smoke, Goo, Glow, and Colors
Does it involve anything along the lines of smoke, goo, something glowing, or the colors orange, black, or red?
Orange and black are classic Halloween colors. (Here’s a demonstration with black dry ice.) Red can bring up imagery of vampires or (for older kids) blood. (Here’s a simple density demonstration using Halloween colors.)
As a science teacher, you always have the option to pull the catch-all theme: mad scientist.
Step 3. Make it more than a label
For themes like this to work, they need to be more than a silly label placed on an ordinary experiment. Most kids will see through superficial labels.
So how do you take a demonstration, mix it with your theme, and come out with something to engage the kids?
How you Present it Matters
A man was once showing non-teachers how to teach. He had a delicious cake with the lesson topic written on top with icing. “Anyone want some?” he asked. Of course everyone did. When the first volunteer came up to get his delicious piece of cake, the teacher describes what happened:
I then sank my fingers into the top of the cake and tore out a large piece. I was careful to clench my fist after tearing it out so that the frosting would ooze through my fingers, and then as [they] sat in total disbelief, I threw the piece of cake to [him], splattering some frosting down the front of his suit. Would anyone else like some cake? I inquired. For some reason, there were no takers.
The teacher then brought out a fancy plate, silver fork, and napkin, and carefully cut a slice of cake from the non-destroyed side and offered it to the class. (Source: Teaching, No Greater Call.)
How you present your Halloween-themed demonstration makes an enormous difference. You can put a shallow label on an ordinary experiment. Or you can present it well, with the details that impress. Maybe dress up as a mad scientist or maniacal witch and brew a concoction of magical science.
Here are some effective ways others have incorporated Halloween into their lessons. Launch your ideas from these inspiring demonstrations:
See my Halloween science Pinterest board for more ideas!
How do you adapt your lessons?
Share with us what you have done to adapt your lesson to a holiday theme. What makes it successful? Do the kids love it? Do they learn more?