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October is here and Halloween falls on a school day this year. As the only holiday I’ve used as inspiration in my classroom, I thought this month would be the perfect time to share my ideas on how to create holiday themed class activities that are fun for your students while still being educational. It’s not about “wasting” the day celebrating a holiday. It’s about taking a break from the usual classroom routine and livening up things a bit (while still staying relevant to your course subject). Here are three ways you can bring your favorite holidays into the classroom.

I thought this month would be the perfect time to share my ideas on how to create holiday themed class activities that are fun for your students while still being educational. #edutwitter Share on X

Holiday Accents Project

Let’s start with a quick and simple approach to adding some holiday cheer into your classroom. Rather than creating a whole activity that ties into the holiday at hand (like the projects in the sections below), just consider what possible connections you can make between what you are already teaching that week or month and the holiday that’s occurring during that time.

Some Examples:
  • Halloween
    • Chemistry: Finding a Halloween connection to the chemical components or reactions being studied. Slime, “magical potions” (i.e. liquids that do cool things when combined), etc.
    • Anthropology: Researching the mythical creatures connected to the culture being studied. Werewolf, chupacabra, cerberus, etc.
  • Valentine’s Day
    • Biology: Of course, how the human heart functions in the body or diseases related to the heart.
    • Business: Study the marketing of Halloween-related products or how companies make their products seem related to the holiday.
Have them research a topic that's related to your class and the holiday. #teach #edutwitter Share on X

Research Project

This holiday themed class activity idea involves some homework for your students, and also requires you to take a break from the work you’d been doing leading up to that point. It’s basically a break in the usual schedule to take some time to consider the holiday at hand.

What’s the activity?

Have them research a topic that’s related to your class and the holiday. Each student can present their research to their classmates and you on the day of the holiday. Just a few minutes each, with no major element that needs to be submitted. It’s not about creating a major activity for your students to complete, though you can do this if you build the holiday into one of your unit projects.

Some Examples:
  • Halloween
    • English: Optional: Have them come to class dressed as their favorite character from their favorite book, movie, TV show, etc. Required: Have them research the creator’s process in creating that character, and have them share this information with their classmates.
    • Physics: Have students research Halloween movie tropes that break the laws of physics. Levitating objects, Vampires that fly, transfiguration, etc. They’ll then present on what laws these examples break or even how the actions are possible in specific conditions that don’t occur naturally on Earth.
  • President’s Day
    • Sports Management: Pick a president and research what sports they played when younger or what connections they have to sporting events and professional leagues. Present this information.
    • Film Studies: Have students research how a president has been represented through film. Present on this research.

Creative Project

Unsurprisingly, this project type is my favorite. As someone who’s a big believer in the pedagogical potential of assigning creative genres and activities alongside formal writing and projects, giving students room to get creative with their holiday themed class activity is my favorite avenue for including the holiday in the classroom. Again, this could just be a mini activity for the day, rather than part of a larger project. There is so much that can be learned from a creative activity. The instructor can learn more about their students’ interests and skills outside the usual course material. The student can learn how creative activities actually require quite a bit of critical thinking skills, and they can improve those skills while completing the project.

Some examples:
  • Halloween
    • Psychology: Create the basic plot of a book, movie, or TV show that focuses on the life of a character with a fascinating psychological profile. Present their idea to the class or write it out and submit it by the end of class.
    • Professional Writing: Pick a character from a favorite horror film or supernatural fantasy story. Create a resume for that character to submit to their dream job.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    • Special Education: Design an activity for their future students that can be used to help them understand MLK or the Civil Rights Movement more generally.
    • Astronomy: Create the script for a video that will be shown as part of a future encounter with an alien species. This video will be used to explain racism, or the Civil Rights Movement specifically, to these future potential friends.

Final Thoughts

So those are three ways that you can integrate various holidays into your lesson plans. I’ve tried to include examples from courses that you likely wouldn’t think would work for the holiday in question. I hope you give a holiday themed class activity a try at some point this year. Even if you don’t teach on the exact date of the holiday, connecting it to that week’s lesson can show students how relevant your course can be to life outside of the classroom.

Comment below: Need help coming up with a holiday themed class activity for your course? Let us help in the comments section!

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Do any holidays occur on days you are teaching? Here are three ways to design holiday themed class activities. #education #teaching