Well hello sunshine! Today we are talking about how to keep our students engaged and on their very best behavior during Halloween. I love Halloween it’s so exciting but man can it be exhausting and over whelming. So today I’m going to give you my very best tips to help you not only get through the holidays but totally enjoy and bring a little joy to your management routine. So, here’s Halloween classroom management!
Join the Group!
Before we get there I would like to encourage you to join our Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group. I just went live in the Facebook group this past week to share lots of tips just like I’m going to share today about Halloween. It is always so much fun to interact with people live, to talk to you live, to say your name, to see that you are communicating with me. I also gave away free Halloween Word Works.
My Word Works Halloween set is newly updated and ready to go to give your students some Halloween excitement, engagement sounds and pictures. I gave that away during the live but also gave it away during the replay. You’ll also find a free hat and banner there. So just hop over to Facebook if you have one. If you don’t, I don’t judge you at all and I do not blame you, but it’s just a great way to connect with each other. You can also get the free hat and banner patterns right below.
Halloween Classroom Management
Friends, we know that our management is never done. We have to always work on one upping our students to be a step ahead of the game and to always be ready to switch up what we’re doing in order to meet their management needs. Halloween is a kid distraction of monumental proportions. We’re talking candy, costumes, decorations, scary movies that keep kids up late at night. They’re already so super hyped up and excited before they even walk through the classroom door.
Our kids are so excited, but guess what? We can harness that and even use it to gain control.
Classroom Management Strategy #1: Character Points
I love using table points table points. It’s something I constantly use to engage my students. The competition is perfect for them to keep them engaged and always following directions very quickly because they want to earn those points. It’s also highly focused on positive behaviors. We want to focus on their positive behaviors and encourage others to have those positive behaviors as well.
So to mix up table points, all that I did was print off some little Halloween characters: spiders, mummies, skeletons, ghosts, witches, whatever you want to print off. Instead of table points, let’s use some character points. I just taped these little character pieces of paper where I would normally have my table numbers, and suddenly table number one is the ghost table, number two were the spiders, and kids love it.
Also, you can use the language in your favor. “Boys and girls. Let’s see how sneaky the ghosts can be to the carpet. Let’s see how quickly the spiders can use their legs to get all of their papers put in up how nice and neatly. Oh, I see this skeletons have all of their bony fingers together on their ready signal.” Use these characters to your advantage and print out a bunch of them, that way you can change them constantly and the students are always excited to be the different Halloween characters.
Classroom Management Strategy #2: Brain Breaks
Another management trick I like to use is to bribe my students with Halloween themed brain breaks. Of course I always give brain breaks, but it’s really fun to use this to my advantage to make sure they are exhibiting positive behaviors. “Boys and girls, if we finish our math quietly, if we work through each problem and make sure we are using our neatest number formation, no number reversals, then we will do my most favorite Halloween brain break when we’re finished.” Or you could say, “We’re going to dance like skeletons when we finish.”
Classroom Management Strategy #3: Halloween Desk Pets
Another trick is to use Halloween themed desk pets. Now, I’m not on the desk pets band wagon, because I think it’s a whole lot of trouble. It’s just something I’ve not tried completely yet. But I do like to bring a few little tools to help me keep my chatty class quiet. Maybe it’s just this particular group, but I have to work really hard on helping them focus and listen to me when I’m speaking and to avoid getting in that group chat at their tables.
So I brought Itsy Bitsy to help. Itsy Bitsy is just a little hairy spider I bought at the Dollar Tree. Itsy Bitsy loves to sit with sneaky, quiet students. So throughout the day, I will look for the sneakiest kids, the kids who are working hard, they’re not talking to their neighbor when their teacher is talking. Itsy Bitsy will join you at your table, and while you’re working you can even pet Itsy Bitsy. Now of course with COVID, you’ll have to consider the germs and all of that. Wipe it off between giving it to students with a wipe or whatever you need to do, but there’s lots of things you can use as a desk pet.
Classroom Management Strategy #4: Halloween Music
You can also incorporate Halloween music to help your students stay quiet and focus during independent work time. So when you need your students to be writing or to be completing problems independently, you can put on some really low volume Halloween music. I like to use a Pandora station called Halloween for Kids. I turn that down, and my students know that if they are talking at all, they will not be able to hear it. It really helps because they want to hear those creepy Halloween songs and music. And so to do that, they make sure that you’re focused and working.
Classroom Management Strategy #5: Dictated Drawings
Finally, another reward I like to use are dictated drawings. I like to reward my students at the end of the day with a quick 5 to 10 minute dictated drawing from YouTube. To the throw in the Halloween theme, I search for the ones that are Halloween, and I let my students choose this. Sometimes we do dictated drawings and it’s usually the teacher’s choice. But I will let my students vote on a couple of the Halloween themed ones. And boy oh boy, do they love having a choice. So consider this as a reward if you have an important lesson to teach. Remind them that if they are showing these positive behaviors that at the end of the day we will choose a cool Halloween dictated drawing. I will use this tool about once a week, maybe every Friday. All you need is plain paper, pencils, and crayons and a YouTube video. I like to use Art for Kids Hub.
Harness the Excitement
I hope you find something that brings a little extra Halloween joy and fun to your classroom. Before I go, let me remind you that Halloween Word Works is up for grabs for kindergarten and first grade. This is perfect for second grade this year, as our students are unfortunately behind as far as I can gather from my second grade teacher friends. I even have a free trial of the Halloween version you can grab here.
But before I leave, let me leave you with this thought, something I’ve learned from being a mother. I never understood all of the excitement and just the pure energy that came from kids this time of year until I had my own daughters. It’s just magical, all the things going on: the themes, the pictures, the music, it’s just a magical time for kids. So instead of ignoring that, instead of completely trying to rid our classroom of all that, which we cannot do, it’s already in their little brains. It’s already in their morning routine. Let’s harness it. Let’s use it, and let’s make sure we’re joyful along the way.
Until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.