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Halloween-themed fraction and language activities (grades K-4)

Halloween is such a fun time of year! For educators, we have included some Halloween-inspired learning extensions (a fraction math worksheet, language writing activity and a surprise bonus!) for your classroom this year!

Click here to jump to these extensions.

Halloween History

Did you know it was probably originally the Celtic  celebration of Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), which marked the end of the harvest? After the harvesting was done, people joined together to light a community fire using a wheel to represent the sun. Everyone took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to light a new fire in their hearths.

In the Middle Ages, people began mumming or souling–going door-to-door begging—which is likely the precursor of trick-or-treating. At that time, the poor offered to sing a prayer in exchange for soul cakes. Over time, Halloween became more secular and was adopted by children who would sing, recite poems or do entertaining tricks to get nuts, fruit or coins.

It was likely the Celts who introduced the jack-o’-lantern by carving turnips, beets or potatoes to use as lanterns on Samhain.  When the Irish and Scottish immigrated to North America, they brought continued in this tradition and found that pumpkins, being larger and hollow, worked even better.

The first recorded instance in North America of children going  door-to-door for treats was in Vancouver, BC, in 1898. The first time the term “trick or treat” is known to have been used in North America was recorded in 1927 in Blackie, AB, near Lethbridge.

Autumn definitely seems a mystical time of change—leaves change colours, nights grow longer, plants drop their fruit. It’s a time of transition that  reminds us of the continual cycle of change and of our deep connection to the earth. One of the most traditional connections to that history is the fall harvest. Today, when we see combines working in golden fields as the sun goes down, it’s natural to think about the wonderful, comforting foods and treats we’ll enjoy through the long cold winter.

Halloween-themed pretzel webs

A fun classroom activity that uses pretzels, white icing or candy coating and whatever candy decorations you like. It’s simple to create but looks awesome. We think that it would be a lot of fun to do with students as part of a Halloween celebration! (We’ve checked with some teachers who suggested making up individual kits for each student)

Math extension: Spider web fraction worksheet

Continue the fun with this Halloween-inspired fraction worksheet. 

download worksheet here!

Language extension: YouTube read-aloud Halloween books

Your students will enjoy these Halloween stories! Follow up with questions and a class discussion about the problems Spider faced and how the friends handled them. And why the old mummy swallowed the spider. Would you swallow a spider?!

How the Spider Saved Halloween by Robert Kraus with online book reading

There Was an Old Mummy who Swallowed a Spider by Jennifer Ward

Quick write activity: Be the hero of your own Halloween story

Show students this spooky picture and have them write their own adventure story, being sure to answer the 5 Ws plus How!

Download spooky picture and writing activity here

Extension: Pretzels–a harvest treat!

Pretzels are a great treat for celebrating harvest time and Halloween! Whether they’re large or small, soft or crunchy, the main ingredient of pretzels is flour. Traditional recipes use white flour but you can make them with whole wheat flour or barley flour for gluten-free pretzels. They’re baked, not fried, very low in sugar and contain whole grains so they’re a healthy snack!

In the fall, grain farmers in Ontario harvest their crops, including soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, and oats. It’s very important work for all of us—much of our food uses one or more of these ingredients.

Harvesting, like all farming today, uses specialized equipment to do the job efficiently. If your family goes for a drive in the fall, you might see farmers and equipment out working in their fields bringing in their harvest. They work long days to get all the grain in before the winter weather sets in.

Watch the following videos to help your students understand how Ontario grains are harvested, and how pretzels are made!

  This video will show students what happens during grain harvest (4:14):

Watch how flour is made from the Discovery channel (4:50):

How pretzel sticks are made (4:10):

How twisted pretzels are made (5:00):