Celebrate Learning, Learn While Celebrating: Halloween and the Holidays

Celebrate Learning, Learn While Celebrating: Halloween and the Holidays

How a Ghoulish Holiday Can Become a Treat   

Just in time for Halloween & Whatever Follows


Do you like to “insert” holiday history, culture, & customs into an English and content curriculum plan? If so,  how do you relate to the special occasions in autumn and winter or to festivals and commemorations during the year?

Here are some images that may evoke memories, trigger thoughts, and otherwise worry you. Which visuals reflect your interest in the study of language and other subjects? And what are your feelings about the “spooky,” somber, yet outrageous nature of Halloween & Related Celebrations? Which reminders of ancient, bygone, and prevailing times attract, excite, frighten, or amuse you? Why and how?

How do your reactions compare to the notes that follow?  

If you do get into the spirit of the season, maybe you’re fearful of “wasting costly time and energy" on frivolity when there’s too much to do to meet requirements? Yes, special-occasion activities often do take away from teaching or learning progress. They may even detract enthusiastic participants from their “dedication to solemn study.” But remember, Halloween  began with observance of a somber, grave time dedicated to remembering saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed. So why not “lift your spirits” by using holiday culture and customs as skills teaching & learning means of attaining educational goals? Then you can accelerate progress while “loosening up,”  being possessed by and reveling in pursuits that are just a little chilling, intimidating, or strange. But at least they’re educational!

So let’s start with an array of effective ways to “cover” reliable historical, cultural, and informational material while advancing English instruction and developing learning abilities. Broken down into four groupings, these ideas, instructions, and ready-to-use “holiday gifts” address “Reading Skills,” “Vocabulary Building,” “Compelling Visuals,” and “Oral Skills Development.”

Here’s what to do: click on the underlined title of a segment to download it free of charge. To avoid reading through the verbiage, you may want to scroll down to the 16 corresponding page images to see what grabs you. From either link, you can get to the whole section, chapter, or unit—or a whole book—that a sample came from.

Do it now!


Improve Reading Skills & Comprehension With Special-Occasion History & Culture.

The goal of most kinds of silent (or some oral) reading or study is to gather and understand information and ideas. As an unexpected change of pace or diversion, selections on the history, customs, and concepts surrounding Halloween & Related Occasions will be fun to read and learn from. So get involved right away. 

1. Do 8 High-Beginning Background Readings: Halloween & Related Occasions. Downloaded and printed out two-sided, these “Readings on Celebrations Dedicated to Remembering the Dead” take the dread out of “Getting Main Ideas & Important Supporting Details.” On the reverse sides of illustrated selections are helpful, easy-to-do comprehension exercises that get right to the point. They can be used by individuals or compiled into an 8-Card “Reading Kit.” They’re sure to inspire written or oral “Restatement / Summary” and “Information-Quizzes/Quiz Games.”                                 

2. Find out Ways to Use selections in groups with Reading Skills Activities: Getting the Main Idea & Supporting Details of Background Readings. Get suggestions for Reading Levels; Materials Prep; Handouts or Reading Kits; and 3 Methodologies for Restating & Summarizing. 

3Answer 3 Kinds of High-Beginning Quiz Questions: Yes-No, Multiple Choice, Short Answer/Essay.  By their very format and sequencing, these 16 x 3 question forms assure understanding of the relevant material. Use them to see what you and others already know—and for lively competitive or cooperative “Games of Knowledge.”

4. By Using Knowledge Quizzes & Quiz Games + Scoring Methods + Answers + Path-Board, you can devote energy to the dissemination of real information and sacred truths on these “hallowed” special occasions. Though based on 40 sample pages of readings and quiz items in the 108-page Holiday Happenings: Halloween & Related Occasions Book, these ideas and instructions can be applied to any special occasion—or any other subject matter containing credible info and its interpretations. Use them (simply, adapted, or elaborately) for self-instruction, small group cooperation, whole class competition, and/or fun & games.    

    Build Vocabulary with Readings, Exercises, Charts, & Puzzles.

    Some skills that advance vocabulary achievement quickly are getting meaning from context; choosing appropriate words and phrasing; charting parts of speech, definitions, and examples; using dictionaries for pronunciation, meaning, and usage; and associating related words. These can be developed with exercise-like activities that motivate learners to seek out solutions. And since they’re not “just for fun” anymore, word puzzles that involve recognizing, forming, and arranging letters, especially those addressing spelling & phonics, also facilitate learning. Take these steps to “do it yourself” and/or help others do so.

    5. Do Multi-Level Vocabulary-in-Context Reading, Matching, & Fill-ins (with Answers). The specific subject is “Samhain, the First “Halloween’." But the skills you’ll need or develop with these gripping exercises are “Getting Meaning from Context” and “Choosing the Right Words for the Meaning.” Give them a try!        

    6. Get the pedagogy of Vocabulary Skills Activities: Vocabulary Learning in Context. Find out how to (help others) figure out meaning, check guesses, fill in blanks with appropriate words, make “Vocabulary-from-Context Charts,” and use (printed and online) dictionaries for pronunciation, meanings, and uses of vocabulary.

    7. Show what you know and get more words and phrases with 6 Halloween-Vocabulary Learning Puzzles: Word Search, Crosswords, Rebus, Letter Combos, Phrase Boxes, Scrambled Words. Practice pronunciation and spelling. Arrange letters in words; match these to the sounds they make. Notice definitions and uses of items. Play a phrase-guessing game with someone else. And solve these puzzles!

    8. Learn why Vocabulary Learning with Puzzles (+ Answer Keys) works even better when the puzzles differ from the expected because of their holiday theme or format. Use Puzzle Solutions judiciously to encourage interaction (cooperation and competition) and to aid in success.  


    Get the Most Out of Compelling Visuals.

    Pictures of different kinds (photos, drawings, illustrations, cartoon, and other visual images) usually increase the fun and learning value. They arouse interest, make experience more real, help memory, simplify communication, and drive motivation. They're also multi-level and multi-purpose, versatile, and adaptable. Here are some innovative ways to use them: 

    9. Get Four Multi-Level Picture-Path Boards with Four Sets of Instructions + Vocabulary List. With each grid of 16 boxes -- displaying 4 items in each of 4 categories of meaning, you can participate in at least four different games -- on your own, in pairs, or in groups. The lists of words and phrases that follow will help you play, attain knowledge, and win. 

    10. For Vocabulary-Learning with Picture Grids or Cards, there are two game formats: [1] those for which competitors use vocabulary to “occupy boxes on boards” and [2] those in which participants use illustrated “playing cards” for vocabulary activities and contests. Some of the first type are One-, Two-, or Three-Item Game, Tic-Tac-Toe, Two or More in a Row, Bingo/Lotto. The second variety includes “Speed-Matching,” “Memory,” “Pass the Card, Please,” and “The Game of ’Same’.” These instructions work with any four-of-a-kind illustrated content, of course, but such games are even more fun with “new content” on special occasions. 

    11. Here’s a “Holiday Special” gift that will save you the time and effort of preparing your own “treat.” Simply download a 52-item Halloween Card Deck: Symbols & Culture. On stock or stiff paper, print them out one– or two-sided (with card backs), preferably in color. Cut apart the items of each set of six 9-card pages and assemble the decks for card play.  

    12. To facilitate dictionary use for pronunciation, meanings, and uses of vocabulary, get another “Special-Occasion Bonus.” It’s a full 52-card Holiday Vocabulary-Learning Card Deck with Instructions for Use that turns the “serious work of vocabulary building” into hands-on fun.


    Enjoy Interactive Listening/Speaking That's "Special."

    Especially in a holiday season, when participants are anticipating vacations, get-togethers, and celebrations, they want to interact. And most exchanges involve speech -- as well as listening, reacting, and sharing. Here are four activities built on these inclinations: 

    13. Start with the most traditional of Listening Skills Activities: Story Telling & Retelling. After the rationale for these come three generic steps that elicit and expand all relevant skills: dramatic oral reading, role-playing, hearing audio or viewing video, (cooperative) narration, and listening comprehension with restatement and summary. Then come four classic short, short “horror stories” to savor: The Viper, The Hook, Room for One More, High Beams 

    14. To target clear articulation, you can agitate reluctant speakers with Pronunciation Skills Activities: Sentence Strips. Much more effective than “Listen & Repeat” exercises, these 13 unlucky 1– or 2-sentence items proclaim colorful superstitions. As a reward to speakers who have “performed,” scare listeners with a Comprehension Quiz on what they have heard and understood.

    15. It’s customary to coax confidence with Speaking Practice: Information Gap Activities. Pairs of participants supply hidden data to each other to produce a useless set of instructions to impose on others. These two occasion-appropriate recipes are for “How to Make Candied Apples” and “How to Make Popcorn Balls.”

    16. Now confident in their abilities, celebrants get to assemble Sequenced Oral Presentations & Do More Holiday Activities. In pairs, they reveal the order of six steps of critical processes like “How to Predict Your Romantic Future” and “How to Make a Jack-o-Lantern.” Creatively, they “teach” others what they know, get reaction and feedback, and polish their performances. And finally, they demonstrate their holiday expertise and fun-loving nature with lively, entertaining games: “Charades,” “Progressive Story Telling,” “Holiday Humor,” and “Holiday Headlines.”


    Sure, it’s a scary time of year—in an increasingly chilling world! We hope it’s consoling to get some relief for your grief for free! And if it cheers you to spend money online, click on the product below that you’d like to own, fill out the requested info, and then download your complete book or card deck for immediate use.


    108 PAGE, 8.5 x 11, 26 Activities     56 PAGE 11 X 5.5 Starter





    About Work/Life English

    Work/Life English is an experienced provider of fun, effective English language improvement content that advances the lives of native English and English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers by improving their English competence, comprehension, and communication skills.  For more information, visit: www.worklifeenglish.com.

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