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By Amanda Dodge • October 26, 2022

15 Spooky Reading Activities for Elementary Students

Spooky season starts in October and runs through Halloween. Even though many schools don’t celebrate this holiday and some parents don’t let their kids participate, you can still bring haunted elements to your classroom. Kids love stories about ghosts and monsters no matter what month it is. If you can tap into topics that your students love, you can engage them in your reading lessons. 

Check out these 15 Halloween activities for kids to get your students excited about reading. 

1. Read a Spooky Story With a Flashlight

Your Halloween activities for kids can be as simple as turning off the classroom lights. Stage a read-aloud in the dark with the help of a flashlight to tell your story. It doesn’t have to be spooky at all, just age-appropriate. You can use the darkness to lead a discussion about story settings, tone, and other inferences related to the story.

Students reading in tent

2. Act Out a Spooky Play

Assign different roles in a story and ask students to read them out loud. This activity practices reading skills while showing kids how they can add emotion to the text they read. What context clues in the story tell kids how to act? Consider choosing multiple spooky plays and breaking your class into small groups to create a mini theatre fest in your classroom.  

3. Introduce Reading Organizers With a Well-Known Story

Choose a spooky story that your kids are already family with and use the known plot to introduce reading organizers. You can also read a story aloud and then work through it to create these organizers. 

For example, if you read an age-appropriate version of Dracula, your students can identify the villain, the hero, the setting, and the various plot lines of the story. 

4. Draw Halloween Prompts

This can be a warm-up activity to let students practice their writing while tapping into their creativity. Ask each student to randomly draw a writing prompt from a bucket, then follow the challenge to write a paragraph. These can be related to horror or students can write a scary scene around the prompt. Students can share their writings with the class before the day’s lesson starts. 

5. Write Spooky Poetry

Halloween is a great opportunity to explore different types of poetry. Ask students to choose a favorite monster and write a poem about them. One student might write a sonnet about zombies while another does an acrostic about why ghosts scare them. You can even create spinning wheels where you land on a monster and poem type to assign writing challenges at random to small groups. 

6. Brainstorm Monster Parts of Speech

Kids across the elementary school classroom need to identify different parts of speech and apply them to their sentences. This activity is great to learn about adjectives and adverbs. Show a picture of a common monster, ghoul, or creature and ask students to provide words to describe it. Then work into verbs and adverbs based on what the monster might do. For example:

  • The Swamp Creature
  • Adjectives: gross, slimy, tall, moss-covered, scary
  • Verbs: ran, crawled, slithered, lurked
  • Adverbs: creepily, quickly, menacingly
  • The result: The moss-covered swamp creature lurked menacingly in the cave. 

7. Enjoy Spooky Silent Reading Time

Pull some of your favorite Halloween books from the shelves (or visit the library) and let students spend a period of the class reading. Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning shared 10 books to start with that are age-appropriate and cover Halloween topics. Some kids might want to keep reading these books even after Halloween ends.  

8. Play Halloween Homophone Games

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Challenge students to write spooky sentences using their favorite homophones

  • Our house is haunted because we hear spooky noises every hour
  • We hear the ghost crying in mourning at six a.m. every morning
  • Sometimes, I can feel its stare come from the top of the stair

Your students can work together to write a story or create their own Halloween sentences using homophones. 

9. Assemble Stories With Spiderwebs

One key lesson that students learn in elementary school is storytelling and learning how to convey information effectively. Develop lesson plans where students identify sentences that don’t belong in a paragraph or are placed in the wrong location. You can also create a magnetic spiderweb and ask students to place sentences on the web in a way that makes sense. You can reuse this spiderweb each year or incorporate it into non-Halloween lesson plans. 

10. Explore Halloween Sensory Words

Sensory words are related to the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch). Choose a Halloween read-aloud and ask students to write down any sensory words they hear. What senses do the words relate to? How do they enhance the story? 

11. Use Pumpkin Carvings As Writing Prompts

Explore Google and Pinterest for unique pumpkin carvings and create a slideshow of some of your favorites. You can work through this slideshow during the day and ask students to write a few sentences about each pumpkin. What is the pumpkin’s name? Why is it making that face? This helps students pick up on visual cues and create stories based on what they see. 

12. Stage a Monster Break In

Oh no! A monster broke into the classroom during lunch. It left footprints, gooey slime on the teacher’s desk, and other clues about its intentions and whereabouts. Ask your students to be reporters who can draft a story about the monster based on the clues they find. Make sure they address the who, where, what, why, when, and how based on what they learn in the classroom. 

13. Identify Vocabulary Words With Ghosts

Find little ghost cards or online graphics to make this week’s vocabulary words more exciting. For example, you can write definitions on the ghosts and challenge students to identify the words related to them. You can play this game with synonyms or antonyms to learn who the ghosts are and aren’t.  

14. Use Spider Magnets to Write Sentences

There are multiple ways to use spiders to connect students with reading exercises. You can pick up a large bag of plastic spiders for only a few dollars online. On the back of each spider, tape a word. You can have nouns, verbs, adjectives, and connector words. Then let students develop sentences with these spiders. Think of them as spider-based refrigerator poetry. 

15. Make Ghoulish Noises With Vowels

Is there a ghost in the attic making scary noises? It sounds like Aaaaa Eeeeee Iiiiii Ooooo Uuuuuu (and sometimes Y). Let students rattle their chains and pretend to be ghosts who make different noises based on the sounds of various words. This is a fun way to teach mouth placement and help students understand what different vowels sound like. 


Use Halloween Activities for Kids to Build Reading Skills 

Ghosts don’t just creep around on Halloween and zombies are always searching for fresh brains. You can incorporate many of these lesson plans outside of October if you aren’t able to celebrate Halloween in your classroom. Find out what monsters and ghouls your kids love and build reading lesson plans around them. Your students will have fun and remember the material long after you move on to another concept. 


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