Some of you who’ve been visiting my blog over the years may recall that I love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite U.S. holidays. I’ve already shared many activities with this holiday theme. However, looking over my past posts, I see that I should bring some balance into the offerings by creating at least one or two more activities that can be done with beginners.
Costumes are a very fun part of this holiday celebration, so that’s what we can focus on this year. Here are two activities you could try:
1. Shop for costumes. This is more like window shopping from the comfort of the classroom. Select images of about a dozen costumes in advance (men’s, women’s, and unisex) and post the images for the class to view. I’d suggest a few popular choices (e.g., vampire, witch, ghost) to familiarize students with some vocabulary frequently used in conjunction with the holiday. However, I’d also recommend using some so-called career costumes. Students will already know doctor and basketball player. Introduce them to some new occupations: police officer, construction worker, scientist, pilot, astronaut, or sailor. You can throw in king and queen. After identifying the costumes, follow these steps:
Step 1 – Questions to practice with a partner: You can scramble the sentences and then have students unscramble them in pairs before taking turns with the Q&A.
- What’s this costume?
- Is there a (nurse) costume?
- How much is it?
- Is it expensive?
- Do they have my size?
- What sizes are there?
- What size are you?
- Do you like this costume?
Step 2 – Discussion. You have $50. You need a costume for a Halloween party. Which costume do you want? Why?
This activity could lead into a larger lesson on counting money, a vocabulary lesson related to shopping or jobs, or a grammar lesson on question formation. (Note: Many of the women’s…ahem…skimpy costumes sold online may not be appropriate, so choose carefully. You can always find images of homemade costumes and put sizes and price tags on them yourself.)
2. Describe costumes. This activity is like a Halloween version of the Fashion Police who patrol red carpet events. You can choose amazing, funny, cheap, and otherwise notable costumes. Sites like Pinterest might help your search. The idea is to see what language students already have and then build on that. Focus on adjectives. Help students use both attributive and predicative adjectives:
- That’s a (silly) costume.
- That costume is (silly).
- I like that costume. It’s (clever).
- I don’t like that costume. It looks (cheap).
- What a (beautiful) costume!
You can lead into a deeper look at intensifiers: very, really, so. You can also introduce comparative adjectives if the students are ready.
For all levels, please consider ideas shared in previous posts:
- Chilling Cinematic Scenes to Teach Verb Tenses (intermediate and advanced)
- A Timely text: An Activity to Practice Diphthongs (intermediate and advanced)
- An Endless Tale: An Activity to Practice Descriptive Adjectives and Adverbs of Manner (high beginner and low intermediate)
- Choosing from the Pumpkin Patch (high beginner to advanced)
- Terrifying Times: A Halloween Writing Activity (high intermediate and advanced)
Also, in the past, I discussed reasons for ELLs to be exposed to Halloween traditions. Click here to read.