When you teach a language, you’re usually teaching a lot of vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary is the words we use, and grammar is how we organize them in a way so that people understand what we’re saying. However, native English teachers, especially those teaching ESL abroad are often expected to be cultural ambassadors as well. In essence, they are expected to show students what life is like in their countries. That’s why we need things like ESL Halloween activities and games.
ESL Halloween Lesson Ideas
If you do want to celebrate a holiday with students, Halloween is one of the best! It’s just a fun day of dressing up, watching scary movies, and eating junk food.
Halloween is a popular holiday in the USA and Canada, but many other countries around the world celebrate it in some way as well. It can be an interesting class for the students to do some ESL Halloween activities to share a little bit of what this holiday means to them. Plus, your students will certainly encounter some new vocabulary words that they’re never seen before.
Let’s get to some of my favourite ESL Halloween activities and games that you can try out with your students today.
ESL Halloween Games and Activities
Are you ready for the good stuff? Let’s get to my top picks for Halloween games and activities that you can try out with your ESL/EFL students today.
#1: Halloween Charades
If you’re looking for a fun “party” game to play with your students, then Charades is definitely one of my top picks. The key requirement is that students have some familiarity with Halloween vocabulary. If they don’t, then consider doing another activity beforehand, such as #3 on this list: listening comprehension.
Divide the class up into 2 teams. Someone from the first team picks a word out of the hat and then has to act it out while his or her team guesses the correct answer. Switch it up and someone from the next team goes.
Check out more ESL guessing games for kids.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 78 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
#2: Halloween Bingo
Let’s get real here, who doesn’t love a good Bingo game? Everyone does, including university students in Korea which is why this can make quite a fun Halloween game for ESL.
You can make up a Halloween-themed one for your students, but you may have to pre-teach them some vocabulary. I usually choose around 30 words that I have on a PowerPoint.
However, the even better way is to elicit Christmas words from your students and write them on the whiteboard. Give students a blank Bingo grid, and they can choose which words to include and where to put them. Have enough variety of words so that you have only 1 winner for each round.
And because I’m all about learning English, even on party days in class, I don’t do the regular Bingo where you just say the word. Instead, I describe the word and students have to choose the correct one.
Quick teaching tip about Bingo: Get students to just cross off each word with an X, instead of scribbling it out entirely so that you can check answers at the end. And of course, bring a small prize for the winner of each round!
#3: Listening Comprehension (Halloween Themed)
If you want your class to have some learning value, and not just be all fun and games, then you’ll want to consider using this Halloween listening comprehension video. Of course, you should design a lesson around it to get the most value out of it. More details here: ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template.
Or, here are the basic steps you can follow:
- Set the context by having students talk with a partner about their experiences with Halloween. Or for beginners, just have them say some words that they associate with this holiday (costume, trick-or-treat, etc.).
- Assign some simple true/false questions based on the listening.
- Have students listen the first time, then compare answers with a partner and the entire class.
- Assign some more detailed listening comprehension questions.
- Have students watch the video a second time and then answer the questions and compare with a partner and the entire class.
- Do some follow-up activities. It could be something on this list, or use your imagination!
#4: Halloween Trivia (A nice warm-up activity)
This is one of my favourite Halloween warm up activities for teaching adults:
#5: Halloween Puzzles and Word Searches
If you want to have a bit of a quieter, but still fun activity you can do related to Halloween, consider making some worksheets for your students. With the following resource, you can make word searches, hidden messages, mazes, etc. in just a few minutes with minimal effort:
#6 Halloween Speaking Activities: On Halloween, I’m Going to See ____
If your students know a decent amount of Halloween vocabulary, particularly related to costume ideas, then you’ll want to consider playing this memory circle game. In a smaller class of fewer than 10 students, play it all together. Or, in a bigger class, you can divide students up into smaller groups.
The first person starts the game off with, “On Halloween, I might see a (ghost).” The next person repeats what the first person said, but adds their own costume idea to the list.
Each following person has to repeat all the costumes in the exact order. If they make a mistake, they sit down and they’re out of the game. Continue on until only 1 person is left standing.
More details here: Memory Circle Game.
#7: Halloween Speaking Lesson
It’s easy to plan your own lesson for just about anything, including this popular holiday. Have a look at the simple steps that you can follow:
#8: The Candy Jar Contest
This is a fun school-wide activity that doesn’t really focus on English, but it can be a nice competition. Put a certain number of Halloween candies in a jar and let each student have one guess. The student who gets closest to the correct number wins the jar of candies.
This is one of my favourite Halloween warm-up activities for all ages!
#9: Halloween Concentration
Concentration is one of my favourite ESL memory games, and you can also use it with Halloween vocabulary. If you don’t have Halloween flashcards that’ll work, it’s easy to make your own or print them off from the Internet.
For beginners, you’ll probably want to have students match a picture to the word. For more advanced students, you can have them match words and definitions.
Some ideas for vocabulary can be found below. To see more details about this fun Halloween game, check this out: Concentration ESL Memory Game.
#10: Haunted House Classroom
For some fun and excitement, the teachers at your school could turn a spare classroom or library into a haunted house. Turn off the light and fill it with all sorts of creepy things. My personal favourite is the bowl of creepy things that students have to touch without seeing what it is!
#11: Vocabulary Auction
#12: Chain Spelling ESL Halloween Game
A nice way to review new Halloween vocabulary is to play this fun spelling game. The way it works is that everyone has to stand up. Then, you say a word and students have to spell out the word, letter by letter. If someone misses the letter, they are “out” and have to sit down. The winner is the last person standing.
#13: Dialogue Substitution
This is a nice fit for a Halloween ESL lesson for adults. Try it out!
#14: Telephone ESL Halloween Activity
If you teach kids, try out this speaking activity. You’ve probably even played it before. The way it works is that students pass a sentence along down the line by whispering it to their neighbour. In this case, you’d want to choose something related to Halloween.
Then, you compare the sentence to the original one. The results are most often hilarious!
#15: Candy Tasting Contest
If you want to have some fun this holiday, consider a candy-tasting contest. Things like Skittles or M & Ms work best but you can also cut up chocolate bars into smaller pieces. Then, students can put on blindfolds, taste the candy and try to guess what they are.
If you want to amp it up a bit, put students into teams and they can get a point for their team for each correct guess. Students LOVE this activity so try it out!
#16: Odd One Out
Check out this fun Halloween warmer or review activity.
#17: A-Z Halloween Vocabulary Challenge
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they already know a good amount of Halloween words. If this is the case, it can be useful to help them activate this prior knowledge before jumping into the new stuff. One way to do this is with this alphabet warmer.
In pairs, students write down the alphabet on a piece of paper and then have to think of a Halloween-themed word for each letter. The team with the most words at the end of the allotted time is the winner. For example:
B = bat
C = candy
P = Pumpkin
T = Trick or treating
#18: Costume Contest
If you want to have some fun on Halloween with your students, hold a school-wide costume contest. Encourage students to dress up and offer some prizes for the best ones. Optionally, hold a Halloween party and do the judging there.
#19: Running Dictation
This is a great choice for a Halloween ESL lesson for adults:
#20: What are the Creepy Things?
This is a classic activity that everyone in North America has probably done when they were a kid. Look online and you’ll find a ton of suggestions for creepy things to touch but some ideas include frozen or peeled grapes (eyeballs), pipe cleaners (spiders) or cooked spaghetti (brains).
Students have to put on a blindfold and feel the scary or creepy things without losing their nerves!
#21: Halloween Pictionary
Try out this fun party activity with Halloween vocabulary (see below for some ideas). Students have to draw some themed words or phrases and their teammates have to guess what they are.
#22: Spooky Idioms
Have some fun with these scary, Halloween-themed idioms:
#23: Door Decorating Contest
Something I like to do for most major holidays is to organize a door decorating contest. Teachers and students alike get quite competitive and come up with some fun and creative designs. The administration at the school can judge and declare a winner who can get a small prize (candy!).
#24: Cookie Decorating
A fun activity is to make or buy some cookies in shapes like witches, ghosts, or coffins, along with some icing. Ask students to bring in a decoration (black or orange sprinkles, candies, etc.). Then, have some fun decorating your cookies and students can either eat them or take them home. You’ll also want to make sure you have some paper plates or paper towels to prevent sticky desks!
#25: Learn about the History of Halloween
Halloween Vocabulary for ESL
Wondering which words you should cover with your students for Halloween? Here are some of the most popular ones you should hit:
- Black cat
- Dress up
- Face paint
- Front door
- Full moon
- Haunted house
Give this ESL Halloween vocabulary quiz a try! It’s perfect as a warm-up for an ESL Halloween lesson.
ESL Halloween Lessons, Lesson Plans and Worksheets
Do you want some ready-made lessons and worksheets for your Halloween lessons? They are a great supplement to these fun ESL Halloween activities. Here are our favourite sources:
FAQs for Halloween ESL Lessons
There are a number of common questions that people have. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What can I teach for Halloween?
If you want to know what to teach for Halloween, consider starting with some of the vocabulary words and then you might also consider talking about the history of this popular holiday and some traditions for how it’s celebrated.
What are some good Halloween costumes for teachers?
If you want to dress up for Halloween, along with the other teachers, here are some ideas:
- A box of Crayola Crayons
- The Harry Potter crew
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Teachers
Should a Halloween lesson be educational?
A Halloween lesson for schools can be both educational and fun. Consider teaching students some new vocabulary words related to Halloween, along with the history of the holiday. Then, have some fun!
Halloween Activities and Games for ESL: Join the Conversation
What’s your go-to ESL Halloween activity or game? Are you going to try out one of them from this list, or do you have another idea for ESL Halloween Games for Adults (or kids). Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.
p.s. If you’re looking for some other holiday ideas, then you’ll want to check out the following options:
Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API