Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

Engaging Alternative Halloween Activities Your Kids Will Love

Not all kids celebrate Halloween; therefore, I plan several engaging alternative Halloween activities during the month of October. As teachers, it’s our responsibility to offer a variety of learning experiences all our kiddos can enjoy, regardless of their background or beliefs. In this blog post, I share some exciting activities for October that are not Halloween-related. Let’s embrace these alternative Halloween activities and create inclusive learning experiences for all our students.

Alternative Halloween Activities: Science and Nature

October is my favorite month of the year. Besides being my birthday month, I love the feel of the crisp fall morning air and watching the leaves change colors. During October, the natural world undergoes a breathtaking transformation. It is fun to explore the science behind the captivating transformation of leaves during the fall season. Your kids can explore topics such as photosynthesis, chlorophyll, and the role of shorter daylight hours in leaf color changes. These alternative Halloween activities engage students in exploring nature and science while celebrating the essence of fall.

Fall Leaf Art

  • Leaf Rubbings: Place leaves under a sheet of paper and use crayons to rub over them, revealing intricate textures and veins. Discuss the diverse patterns found in leaves and how they contribute to identifying different tree species.
  • Leaf Man Picture Book Activity: Engage your students with the picture book Leaf Man, which beautifully captures the essence of fall and the intricate beauty of leaves. After reading the book, encourage students to create their own fall leaf art using real leaves they find outside. This activity not only promotes creativity and artistic expression but also allows students to appreciate the natural world around them.
Making Leaf pictures as an alternative Halloween activity
  • Create Digital Leaf Art: Introduce your students to the world of digital art with this engaging Leaf Man activity. Using their iPads or computers, students drag and drop images of leaves and other natural objects to create a digital picture of an animal. This activity not only fosters creativity and technological skills but also encourages students to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature. You can get my Leaf Man Digital Art Activity by clicking on the picture below.

Fall Leaf Picture Books as Alternative Halloween Activities

Sharing picture books about leaves makes great alternative Halloween activities. Below are some of my favorite leaf and fall-themed picture books.

Leif and the Fall

Meet Leif, a little leaf with big worries. It’s that time of year again—autumn—and all the leaves are supposed to fall. But Leif’s not so keen on the idea. All the other leaves keep reminding him, “Leaves fall in the fall, buddy!” But Leif’s got a plan, and he’s not giving up. With a little help from his friend Laurel, who also happens to be growing on his tree, they start brainstorming ways to make Leif’s descent more, well, leaf-friendly.

They get creative, fashioning a net out of twigs and even attempting to make a kite from moss. You can practically feel the tension as the clock ticks and the wind blows.

In a world where everyone’s all about success, it’s easy for kids to fear failure. But Leif’s story shows us that sometimes, even our “failed” attempts can lead to the most unexpected successes. This story keeps you hooked with its present-tense narration, making you feel the urgency of Leif’s dilemma.

So, get ready for a heartwarming tale about a little leaf with big dreams. Leif’s journey reminds us that even when we’re afraid to fall, we can still find a way to soar.

Full of Fall

Get ready to fall in love with Full of Fall by the award-winning author April Pulley Sayre. This book captures the magic of Fall with beautiful photos and descriptive text.

Full of Fall takes you through the incredible transformation that trees undergo during fall. You’re right there with the leaves, witnessing their transformation from green to magnificent shades of red, yellow, and orange. Then comes the shedding of those leaves, a sign that winter’s chill is on the way. Even the crumbling leaves during the cold season are depicted beautifully.

But it’s not just about leaves. Sayre dives into the behavior patterns of animals as they prepare for winter. Your students will see autumn in all its different stages, so they can really appreciate it.

Full of Fall is a treat for your eyes and anyone who loves autumn.

The Very Last Leaf

The Very Last Leaf is a heartwarming tale that’s not just about a leaf but also about tackling childhood anxiety. Lance Cottonwood is a star student at Leaf School, but he’s afraid of failing the final exam, which involves falling from the tree.

Many gifted students I’ve taught will easily connect with Lance’s fears. It’s genius to create a leaf school with a top student who’s afraid of falling (or failing). This lesson applies to both children and adults, teaching us that it’s normal to be afraid and that discussing our fears helps us overcome them.

Fall Picture Book - The Very Last Leaf - An alternative Halloween activity

Lance’s journey through the stages of leaf development is presented in his various classes, and you’ll follow along as he works through his fear of falling.

The author skillfully blends facts and fiction, infusing humor throughout the story. It’s hard not to laugh as Lance excels in his budding class and effortlessly grasps air-resistance lessons.

Kids will totally love this picture book and want to read it over and over again. It’s not just for fall; it’s a great story year-round.

Tree Full of Wonder

Tree Full of Wonder is a fun and educational picture book that celebrates the strong connection between people and trees. By fostering a love for nature in children, they will not only fall in love with it but also take on the important role of being protectors of the trees.

The text and illustrations teach readers about the importance of trees, ways to protect them, and how to identify common trees.

Pumpkin Investigations as Alternative Halloween Activities

  • How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin? Science Investigation: This might be one of my favorite alternative Halloween activities. This picture book by Margaret McNamara follows a group of curious kids as they investigate three pumpkins of varying sizes to see which one has the most seeds. The story cleverly incorporates math concepts like estimation, counting, and comparing sizes. It’s an ideal picture book that encourages critical thinking, math skills, and a sense of wonder in the world around us.

Encourage students to come up with other variables to test to see if they affect the number of seeds in a pumpkin. Here are some examples of investigations your kids might want to explore:

  • Size of the Pumpkin:
    • Weight: Do heavier pumpkins contain more seeds than lighter ones?
    • Circumference: Does the roundness or the diameter of the pumpkin correlate with seed count?
    • Volume: Can immersing a pumpkin in water and measuring the water displacement provide insights into seed count?
  • Variety of Pumpkin:
    • Different varieties may have different seed counts.
    • Example: Comparing a small “sugar pumpkin” to a larger “field pumpkin” or an ornamental variety.
  • Color of the Pumpkin:
    • Do different colored pumpkins (e.g., orange, white, green) have different seed counts?
  • Growing Conditions:
    • Soil type: Does the type of soil (loamy, sandy, clay) in which the pumpkin was grown influence the seed count?
    • Watering frequency: Does the amount of water a pumpkin receives during its growth influence the seed number?
    • Sunlight: Pumpkins grown in more sunlight vs. more shade might differ in seed count.
  • Pumpkin Age:
    • Comparing seed counts in pumpkins harvested at different stages of maturity.
  • Pumpkin Shape:
    • Are elongated pumpkins different in seed count compared to round or squatty pumpkins?
  • Seed Size:
    • While this is more about the seeds than the pumpkin, it might be interesting to see if pumpkins with more seeds tend to have smaller seeds (or vice-versa).
  • Presence of External Markings:
    • Investigate if pumpkins with more warts, ridges, or other markings have different seed counts.
  • Thickness of Pumpkin Wall:
    • A thicker wall might mean less space for seeds, but does it affect seed count?
  • Temperature During Growth:
    • Pumpkins grown in hotter versus cooler climates or during different seasons might have varied seed counts.

By staying away from the topic of Jack O’Lanterns, these pumpkin investigations can make fun alternative Halloween activities.

Cultural Awareness and Appreciation To Use As Alternative Halloween Activities

October Holidays To Promote Cultural Appreciation

We observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th and National Native American Day on October 9th. By focusing on both these cultures, we can create a more inclusive and enriching learning environment for all students.

  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – October 9th: Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a day to honor and recognize the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. It serves as an alternative to Columbus Day, which has been criticized for celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the subsequent colonization that had devastating impacts on Indigenous communities.
  • Hispanic Heritage Month – September 15 – October 15: Students can explore the richness of Hispanic cultures by studying art, listening to music, tasting food, creating art inspired by Hispanic traditions, and learning about the lives and contributions of famous Hispanic leaders. Learning about famous Hispanic Americans makes great alternative Halloween activities for October.
  • You can check out the following blog post for more ideas for sharing National Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom.

This biography bundle of 5 Famous Hispanic Leaders is a great way to showcase Hispanic leaders who have made a difference. The 5 leaders are César Chávez, Sonia Sotomayor, Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, and Roberto Clemente. Each biography contains a biography plus 11 activities.

Besides biographies, there are many picture books that celebrate Hispanic heritage and make great alternative Halloween activities and read-alouds.

Unique October Holidays and Historical Events as Alternative Halloween Activities

In October, almost every day can be a holiday! Here are a few of my favorite national and international holidays to celebrate as fun alternative Halloween activities.

Unique October Holidays that Make Fun Alternative Halloween Activities

  • Bat Appreciation Month – October:

Bat Appreciation Month in October is a great opportunity for kids to learn about and celebrate these fascinating creatures. Although many people associate bats with Halloween, they still make engaging alternative Halloween activities. They can engage in various activities like creating bat-themed crafts, participating in educational programs about bats, or even going on bat-watching adventures. By promoting bat appreciation, children can develop a deeper understanding and respect for the important role bats play in our ecosystems.

10 Interesting Facts About Bats:

  1. Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly.
  2. There are over 1,400 different species of bats worldwide.
  3. Bats have a unique ability called echolocation, which allows them to navigate and find food in the dark.
  4. Some bats can eat up to 1,000 insects in just one hour.
  5. Bats play a crucial role in pollination and seed dispersal, making them essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  6. The world’s smallest bat, the bumblebee bat, is about the size of a large bumblebee and weighs less than a penny.
  7. Bats can live for a surprisingly long time, with some species living up to 30 years.
  8. Vampire bats have a specialized adaptation that allows them to feed on the blood of other animals.
  9. Bats are found on every continent except Antarctica.
  10. Contrary to popular belief, most bats are not blind and have excellent eyesight.

World Octopus Day – October 8th: is a time to raise awareness about these magnificent creatures. Octopuses are fascinating marine animals known for their intelligence and unique characteristics. While World Octopus Day may not be as widely celebrated as some other holidays, it offers a fantastic opportunity for educators and nature enthusiasts to incorporate alternative Halloween activities into their lesson plans and events.

This day serves as a reminder that the natural world is full of wonders waiting to be explored, and octopuses are perfect ambassadors for this message. Their incredible adaptability, problem-solving abilities, and intricate behaviors provide rich material for engaging lessons and activities. Plus, they add an intriguing twist to the more traditional Halloween themes, making them an excellent fit for alternative Halloween activities that can spark curiosity and a deeper appreciation for the world around us.

So, mark your calendar for October 8th, and consider incorporating World Octopus Day into your educational or recreational plans. It’s an opportunity not only to celebrate these remarkable creatures but also to introduce alternative Halloween activities that blend science, nature, and seasonal fun.

10 Interesting Facts About the Octopus:

  1. Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood.
  2. They can change the color and texture of their skin to camouflage themselves in their surroundings.
  3. Octopuses are highly skilled at escaping from enclosures and solving puzzles.
  4. Some octopuses are known to use tools, such as coconut shells, for protection.
  5. They have the ability to regenerate their arms if they are injured or lost.

International Sloth Day – October 20th: This special day is dedicated to honoring these incredible creatures renowned for their unhurried pace and adorable charm. While these gentle giants aren’t typically found in the wild in North America, International Sloth Day presents a wonderful opportunity to introduce alternative Halloween activities in the classroom that showcase the wonder of sloths.

10 Interesting Facts About Sloths

  1. Sloths spend most of their lives hanging upside down in trees.
  2. They have an extremely slow metabolism, taking up to a month to digest a single leaf.
  3. Sloths only come down from trees once a week to relieve themselves.
  4. Their slow movement helps them blend in with their surroundings, acting as a natural camouflage.
  5. Sloths have a specialized grip that allows them to hang securely from branches.
  6. They can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees to look around.
  7. Sloths are excellent swimmers and can move quickly in water.
  8. Their fur is home to algae, which provides them with additional camouflage and nutrients.
  9. Sloths have a unique symbiotic relationship with moths, as the moths help fertilize the algae on their fur.
  10. There are two main species of sloths: two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths.

Significant United States Historical Events in October as Springboards to Alternative Halloween Activities

  • October 1, 1890 – Yosemite National Park in California was established, becoming one of the first national parks in the United States.
  • October 3, 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving, which would later become the modern Thanksgiving holiday.
  • October 4, 1957 – The Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, sparking the Space Race with the United States.
  • October 8, 1871 – The Great Chicago Fire began, ultimately destroying much of the city and leading to significant urban planning and fire safety reforms.
  • October 14, 1964 – Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent activism.

Famous October Birthdays

October is filled with unique holidays, historical events, and birthdays of famous historical figures that make great alternative Halloween activities.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s Birthday – October 11th: Eleanor was a renowned politician and activist who served as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She was known for her tireless advocacy for civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Her contributions and dedication continue to inspire generations.

In this biography unit, students will explore a two-page biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, followed by eleven activities that delve into various aspects of her life and accomplishments. These activities aim to foster curiosity, critical thinking, and a deeper appreciation for Eleanor Roosevelt’s enduring influence.

  • National Dictionary Day – October 16th: is celebrated on the birthday of Noah Webster, a prominent American lexicographer who is best known as the creator and publisher of the Webster’s Dictionary. Through his extensive work on the dictionary, Noah Webster played a crucial role in standardizing American English and promoting linguistic independence from British English.

National Dictionary Day is celebrated on October 16th, which is also Noah Webster’s birthday.  This holiday can be a fantastic opportunity to engage children in educational and interactive activities. By incorporating word games, vocabulary challenges, and dictionary exploration, kids can enhance their language skills while having fun. 

In this unit, students will read a biography of Noah Webster and engage in 11 activities such as character analysis, cause and effect, and analyzing quotes. These activities deepen students’ understanding of Noah Webster’s contributions to language and education. By the end of the unit, students will not only have gained knowledge about Noah Webster’s life and achievements but also developed important skills in critical thinking and analysis.

Do you enjoy teaching biographies to your kiddos? This blog post has some great ideas for teaching biographies to your students. Be sure to check it out!

Final Thoughts on Alternative Halloween Activities for October

October offers a varied menu of alternative Halloween activities you can do with the students in your classroom. These activities aren’t just about costumes and candy; they’re about creating memorable experiences that go beyond the usual Halloween traditions.

These alternative Halloween activities are designed not only to ignite curiosity and foster a love for learning but also to instill values of respect, empathy, and appreciation for diversity. They allow every student to explore, learn, and express themselves in myriad ways.

These alternative Halloween activities promise to make this October an unforgettable and enriching experience for your classroom. It’s a time to embrace the spirit of the season and celebrate the joy of learning together.


Share it:


You might also like...

hey y'all

I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

Search the Blog

Browse by Category

Join thousands of other subscribers to gain access to dozens of free resources.