Q: Why is 10 scared? A: Because 7 8 9! – Halloween Vocabulary, Puns & Jokes for Elementary Students

Reading seasonal books, playing themed games, utilizing themed teaching materials and completing holiday activities are my favorite ways to introduce new vocabulary. Students are able to connect to the vocabulary by seeing, doing and experiencing. This connection is extremely important or skill acquisition and generalization.

How To Use Halloween Vocabulary:

  1. Sequencing: Students tell various Halloween-related sequences (i.e., steps to carve a pumpkin, how to put on a costume, how to get ready to go trick-or-treating).
  2. Re-telling/Summarizing: Tell your students a funny or spooky story utilizing words from the Halloween list. Ask them to retell the story or use a round-robin type of game to require each student to tell a piece of the story.
  3. Storytelling/Narrative Skills: Ask students to tell a Halloween-related story utilizing words from the Halloween Vocabulary List.
  4. Describing: Cut up the list and put the words in a fun Halloween bag or bucket. Students take turns choosing a word and describing it without naming it.

Most Effective Strategies of Vocabulary Instruction (Evidence-Based Practices)

  1. Explicit instruction of words in context
  2. Use simple conceptual maps
  3. Teach specific context clues
  4. Select meaningful words to teach
  5. Increase independent reading
  6. Directly teach word learning strategies
  7. Connect new concepts and meanings to existing knowledge base
Halloween Resources: Get the BUNDLE DEAL HERE {No Print}

Vocabulary Experiences: Active Hands-On Learning

Make Pumpkin Pie Playdough – Find the best DIY recipe on Tinker Lab

When introducing nouns, I enjoy utilizing objects, and scaffolding with sounds, smells and tastes (when possible). Students enjoy making the pumpkin pie dough and hiding mini objects or erasers within the dough for their buddy to find and label. Other options include utilizing cookie cutters to make shapes of specific vocabulary words such as pumpkin, bat and moon. Students can place the shapes on a cookie sheet by category or feature. While playing with the dough, facilitate language to compare and contrast objects (“I made a fat pumpkin and yours is skinny”), utilize action words (“No, don’t roll it! Scrape it, like this”). First and Second graders can flatten the dough and write the vocabulary word for a fun sensory experience. One of my favorite activities involves pairing students with a buddy and allowing them to make characters as well as cookie cutter shapes to tell a Halloween story (utilizing a specific vocabulary list). The classroom will be filled with spook-tacular laughter!

Make sensory bins or bottles – For ideas check out my Sensory Bins-Palooza board

Check out The Dabbling Speechie Blog post on Fall Sensory Bins

Take a look at Natilie Snyders’ Youtube Video on Sensory Bins

Teaching Tips

Plan ahead! Pick out vocabulary you want to teach ahead of time. Write some notes on age appropriate definitions you want to teach and the ways you are going to teach the words.

Get active! Give students lots of chances to respond and participate. Activities that are quick and fast-paced keep students interested.

Consider your students specific needs. Vocabulary targets for each class may look different.

Share vocabulary targets with families and staff.

That’s so Punny!

Okay, I admit it… I am a bit obsessed with puns and use them often during speech therapy sessions to work on multiple meaning words, inference and figurative language. Not to mention, students absolutely LOVE them!

A pun is a humourus one-liner or joke based on word play. Did you know that there are many different categories of puns? They can consist of the interplay of homophones— words with the same pronunciation (sound alike) but different meanings. The pun’s humor comes from the confusion of the two word meanings. The second type involves words that look alike (spelled the same), sound the same and have related meanings, known as polysemous words. It has been estimated that around 40% of English words are polysemous (an example is the word key). When one word is substituted for another that sounds like it, whether the substitution is for a single word or part of a phrase, that can create a close-sounding pun (sign on a bake shop: “We bake to differ” ). Texting puns or social media puns are extremely common these days. For example, Q: Why is 10 scared? A: Because 7 8 9!

Check out LitCharts for an indepth exploration of puns!

How to Practice Halloween Vocabulary with Puns

Host a Class Comedy Show – Let students prepare funny puns and jokes they want to perform. They could memorize existing puns/jokes or write their own. Students can work individually or perform in pairs. Decide on how much time you want to give each student or pair to perform their routine. This one is tons of fun!

Halloween Jokes

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?

A: He didn’t have the guts!

Q: What do you call a witch at the beach?

A: A sand-witch!

Q: What type of shoes do ghosts wear?

A: Boooooots!

Q: What is a ghosts favorite food?

A: Spook-etti

Q: What can a witch do better than any student?

A: Spell-ing

Other Ideas for Vocabulary Intervention

Apples to Apples Game- In order to do this activity, you will need the board
game Apples to Apples. Create 2 sets of cards with Halloween vocabulary words. Swap out the green cards in the game with the vocabulary
cards you created and allow the students to play the game as the directions indicate. Students will use the red cards in the game to make connections to their Halloween vocabulary words.

Word Search Puzzles: You can use an online puzzle generator to customize a Halloween puzzle. Find Discovery Education Puzzle Maker Here and ABCya’s Word Search Creator Here.

Play Hangman: This game is fun to play with any new vocabulary list.

Banana Peels – Info to Chew

Seasonal changes and holidays are often difficult for my students that are hypersensitive to routine changes, environmental changes, and even smell. Classrooms are filled with smells of the changing seasons and we tend to forget how this may be overwhelming to our students. I would love for my therapy room to be filled with the amazing scents of the latest Bath & Body flavors; however, my students simply can not handle them.

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