Halloween Read-Alouds and Activities for Upper Elementary

Incorporating holidays and seasonal events into the classroom can make learning fun and interesting! Especially for 3rd-5th grade students. This post shares ideas on Halloween read-alouds and activities for upper elementary.



*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which do not cost any extra for you. Please see the full disclosure here.*


The Best Halloween Read-Alouds for Upper Elementary


Let’s kick things off with some of my favorite Halloween-themed books.

  • Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear both by Aaron Reynolds. These books have a surprise ending that make the stories relatable to kids.
  • Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbel goes through the life cycle of a pumpkin. ๐ŸŽƒ This book leads so well into a STEM activity for October!

    Plus, you can use this book to review life-cycles if you teach science.


In addition to the books above, I adore Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz. (shown below) This book tells the story of a “pumpkin” that is actually a squash.

Since any hard-skinned squash can technically be considered a type of pumpkin, this fictional book also teaches several nonfiction facts about pumpkins.

This also makes hands-on learning and an object lesson on pumpkins easy to include.

So I enjoy bringing different sizes, colors, and shapes of pumpkins in class for observation when we read this book.

Get in the true Halloween spirit and check out these fun Halloween costumes for teachers!


Social-Emotional Learning with Halloween Activities


Not only that, but the moral of the story is that you can be different and that’s ok!

These type of Halloween read-alouds and activities make wonderful social-emotional learning resources as well.


I also recommend using this book to address the power of words.

Calling someone ugly just because they don’t look like you hurts and shouldn’t be allowed in class.



Fun & Academic Halloween Literacy Centers


If you’ve spent any amount of time on this site, you know how much I LOVE literacy centers!

I absolutely believe that upper elementary classrooms should have centers or what others call stations.

Incorporating holiday-themed centers also keeps the learning fun for students.

One example is using the Halloween poetry book Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters by Rachel Kolar.

Yes, you read that correctly–Halloween + Poetry! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ ๐Ÿ‘ป

Why wait until National Poetry Month to introduce your students to poems?

This Halloween read-aloud takes popular nursery rhymes and rewrites them with a “scary” twist.

But they aren’t really scary!

Each poem is easy to read, and I love giving my students writing templates so that they can write their own Halloween poems during this literacy center.

Photo Credit: Amazon


Halloween Math Activities for Upper Elementary

Even though this post mainly focuses on Halloween reading, I LOVE combining math with reading.

One fun, easy way to do that is with mystery pictures.

I give my students nonfiction reading passages about “Creepy Creatures” that are relevant during Halloween like spiders, bats, and snakes.

halloween-creepy-creatures-blog-image
This Google Slides activity can be found HERE in The Butterfly Teacher Store.


But in order for them to see the pictures of these creatures, they must solve math problems.

Each math answer puts the pictures together like a puzzle.

They get engaging reading and math practice that relates to having fun for Halloween in the classroom.



A Halloween Word-Work & Phonics Activity


Another Halloween literacy center activity involves practice with silent letters.

One of the great things about small group instruction is that you can differentiate it to meet students’ needs.

And there are upper elementary students who need more practice with phonics and spelling.

Since “ghosts” are common around Halloween and the word ghost has silent letters, I use this for a literacy center in October.

silent-letter-task-cards-the-butterfly-teacher
Click the image to see the full set of printable and digital Halloween task cards.

This Halloween activity also connects well with any read-aloud.

Once students finish finding each silent letter word, I give them cards titled “Silent Letter Scavenger Hunt” where they look for more kn-, -mb, silent h, wr-, and gh- words in our Halloween books.

Which is great for early finishers and it allows students to be independent during our center rotations.


Connecting Inferencing with Halloween Reading

Just because you’re including Halloween read-alouds and activities in class doesn’t mean you throw rigor and academic standards out the window.

So another literacy center idea for October is to use Halloween Inference Challenges!

Inferencing is one of my favorite reading skills to teach because it is so closely connected to strong comprehension.

Halloween Inference reading task cards tanya the butterfly teacher
These Halloween inference task cards come in printable and digital form. They make learning during Halloween so much fun! Click HERE or click the image for more details.

Here’s how I connect it with Halloween:

  • Students get either printable or digital task cards about different “symbols” or characters that are popular for Halloween.
  • But the task card doesn’t directly say what the symbol or character is.
  • As kids read the description, they must also use their background knowledge to figure out what each card is about.

CLICK HERE to see more about this activity!



This Halloween reading center gives your kiddos a fun way to celebrate Halloween in class, while also improving their reading skills.


Diverse Reading Books for Fall and Halloween


As you may know from spending any time on this site, I firmly believe in establishing a culturally responsive classroom.

Diversity isn’t just for certain days or months of the year. It’s for the entire year.

So, I highly recommend incorporating diverse Halloween read-alouds.

diverse-halloween-read-alouds-for-kids
I have a huge list of Fall and Halloween books–including several diverse reads–in my Amazon store front. Click the image to see the list.


Using different Halloween diverse reads can be extended into a writing activity. Ask students to write their family traditions or routines around Halloween.

This will also include students who don’t celebrate Halloween. Several of the diverse reads for Halloween showcase various cultural traditions that go beyond trick-or-treating.

Kids love it when you decorate the classroom with a spooky Halloween theme! Check out these fun classroom decorations.


How Can I Decorate My Classroom for Halloween?


If ever asked this question, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re wondering how you can decorate your classroom for Halloween on a budget too.

Well, I have a separate post dedicated to that topic for you teacher friend. ๐ŸŽƒ

Halloween Classroom Door and Decor Ideas


This post includes ideas for bulletin boards, Halloween classroom decor and how to decorate your door for Halloween.

Not only that, but you can find other creative ideas for how to make learning memorable for this fun time of the year!

More Learning Ideas to Use During October


Hopefully you found a book or idea in this post that’s useful for Halloween fun, but Halloween isn’t until the end of October!

To keep students engaged with reading and learning throughout October, I also use informational text quick-reads.

These nonfiction passages talk about other topics that are popular during the month of October.

Each one leads up to some of the books and activities we use for Halloween as well.

informational-text-passages-4th-5th-grade
See the full set of October nonfiction reading passages HERE. Or you can click the image.



Some examples of popular October topics are:

1– Fire Prevention Week

2–Where Does Halloween Even Come From?

3–Thanksgiving in Canada

4–The Monarch Butterfly: Migrating Geniuses

5– Mole Day, But Not The Furry Mole!

6–World Teachersโ€™ Day

7–Spooky Spiders

8–Gone Batty!–Information on Bats

9–Pumpkins (which I combine with the Halloween read aloud Pumpkin Jack that I mentioned above!)

10–Hispanic Heritage Month (I have a separate post all about celebrating this month HERE!)

You may want to check out the full set if you need more October ideas beyond Halloween activities.

Happy Halloween / October Teaching ๐Ÿฆ‡

Tanya G. Marshall The Butterfly Teacher Transforming Learning for all students

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.