There has been a bit of controversy over Halloween in the public schools in recent years, but, as with other traditional holidays, it can be a lot of fun for young people and can provide a chance to inject a bit of education into the mix. Along with exploring the historical basis of Halloween and its evolution through time, there are several activities that can be coordinated for the classroom. Halloween activities can also be organized within your community as an addition or an alternative to a night out trick or treating.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Halloween through History
As with many holidays that have been celebrated throughout human history, Halloween has an interesting origin that is all but forgotten in our present day cultures. By exploring the pagan beginnings of Halloween and the many similar holidays that have been celebrated in various cultures, young people can learn about the old belief systems and mythologies of our ancient ancestors. By tracking the development of Halloween through time, students can also learn how old ideas are modified and passed along between generations and how many different ideas that were once a part of Halloween can now be found in a number of different outlets within society.
Invite friends to dress up as there favorite monster for a costume contest. To add a learning activity to the event, consider a talent contest where young people have to provide a description of the particular monster they are dressed up as, any myths, legends or beliefs that are associated with that monster, special powers that the monster has and why those powers are unlikely to exist in the real world. You can add as many categories to the talent contest as you like and set up various criteria for judging the winner.
This can be a fun activity when everyone gets home from trick or treating. You can have a campfire in the back and invite the neighborhood to come round for a night of spooky stories 'round the fire. There are lots of books of ghost stories - even ones that are claimed to be based on true stories. You can recount these tales and ask people what they think about the stories - what other explanations could account for the activities that are described and what would it mean if ghosts were real. You can also make up your own ghost stories individually or as a group. In the group situation, one person starts with a sentence or two and the story continues with each person adding a new bit.
Haunted House Investigation
We will soon be adding a "how-to" guide for setting up an Haunted House of your own and using it to learn about the various claims that have been made about hauntings and what alternative explanations have been found to help shed light on the unusual phenomena.
More ideas? Let us know!
© Copyright 2000, 2001 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal