October is a great time for spooky Halloween fun, but in the special education classroom, our learning never stops! In this blog post, I'm sharing a few of our tried and true literacy centers and activities for October…you may notice some festive, Halloween spirit on the outside, but there's also some solid literacy practice included, too!
I always breathe a sigh of relief as the calendar moves from September to October. Not only do I look forward to boots with dresses and PSL (I know, I know), but I also welcome the resemblance of a classroom routine now that Back to School is winding down.
October is when many student “lightbulbs” may be going off here and there, plus we're learning more about what gaps we can fill up through targeted literacy intervention.
October in the resource classroom can be a huge time of growth and transition!
Here's an overview of fun ideas for incorporate a Halloween theme into our everyday learning. Feel free to click on any of the pictures for a closer look at each resource.
We LOVE to play Blast! It's a quick game for small groups that has mutiple levels of differentiation built right in (can you play 5 levels at the same time? Yes, you can!). It's such a popular activity, that I ended up creating multiple sets featuring different holiday themes. This “Boo!” version is sure to spark conversation about your student's favorite Halloween costume!
Do you use Heggerty for phonemic awareness skills? We've seen so much growth incorporating quick warm-ups every day. My students always benefit from extra practice, plus more learning fun. These warm-ups feature skills based on Halloween vocabulary: rhyming, segmentation, matching intitial sounds, decodable words and sentences, and more! This Halloween set comes from a year-long set of themes – check it out here.
These lists match our favorite October read alouds and offer visual supports to motivate my writers during independent work. There are several picture word banks to sharpen up writing skills and inspire spooky short stories from your authors!
Combine literacy learning and fine motor skills with these handwriting fun worksheets. These pages come from a larger collection of mentor sentences based on our favorite books. They are a great way to build up our writing stamina and for early finishers or morning work. We've even posted these on construction paper to create a Halloween display bulletin board.
Take a deep dive into Halloween picture books with these interactive pages. There are teacher questions, picture word banks, student response boards with symbol supports and more based on the following spooky story books: The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything, Pumpkin Soup, Creepy Pair of Underwear, and Room on the Broom.
Individual task cards are a great opportunity to build student independence! We use them any time of year for fine motor, life skills, literacy, and math activities. These Halloween task boxes feature Spooky Sounds (initial sound matching) and Spider Sight Words. Take a look at the entire holiday set here.
One of our favorite ways to practice sentence writing is using these hands-on tasks – we have enough sets to switch them out twice per month (one holiday/one “anytime” theme). We model complete sentences with Halloween words and pictures, plus sentences to “unscramble” and put back together. Add these to your direct instruction in small groups or provide sentence building practice during literacy centers.
Yes, we use these games to keep our sight words sharp, but they're also FANTASTIC for building our social skills. Play this Halloween version of “I Have, Who Has?” at the beginning or end of your small reading groups and use the added data sheet to keep track of your students' progress.
Are you looking for more ideas to incorporate hands-on play? We use weekly sensory bins to match our favorite Halloween books and holiday vocabulary words, but if you don't want to switch them as often, I also have monthly themes in my “Spill It!” bundle. Students will dig into the bins, pull out the themed cards, and use the alphabet cards to build their own seasonal words! Here's the interactive books we enjoy during October:
As you can probably tell, we LOVE celebrating seasons, but instead of designating a specific day for holiday fun, we like to sprinkle it in all month long!