Halloween math activities and reading comprehension can be so much fun with Halloween Project Based Learning! What upper elementary student doesn’t love haunted houses and everything spooky? Turn that excitement into learning with a creative, engaging, hands-on Design a Haunted House Project!
This project is not only perfect for classrooms already familiar with project based learning (PBL), but it’s also ideal for teachers who are looking for ways to really engage students with a high-interest activity.
Kick off your Halloween Project Based Learning Unit by showing several different videos or ads which highlight haunted attractions and persuade people to visit them. These can be found with a quick YouTube search (be sure to preview them ahead of time). In groups, brainstorm and make lists possible rooms and activities they could include in a new haunted house attraction. Make a master list with the class and keep that list displayed throughout the entirety of the unit
Once the unit is properly introduced, your students will be super excited and motivated to design the best haunted houses ever!
From this point, you can choose to have students work in small groups to complete the project or you can have students work independently. Keep in mind, however, that students working in groups may develop communication skills as a result of working together.
Ideally, a Project Based Learning unit will include certain key components, such as academic content, inquiry, a driving question, student choice, and a public audience. Here is the unit guide I use with my Design a Haunted House PBL Unit. By planning out the project ahead of time, you can easily meet those PBL expectations. Have project based learning questions? Find more answers in this post.
While this project is quite fun, it also should be academically aligned and should allow for problem-solving opportunities. My project has 3 goals:
- Design, map, and find area and perimeter of a haunted house.
- Convince people to visit the haunted attraction through a student-created brochure.
- Use the 3 modes of writing (persuasive, informational, and narrative) in relation to the haunted house.
Here are some more details and photos of how students work through each of the 3 goals:
Design and Map the Haunted House:
You can either provide graph paper or blank paper for students to design their house. Keep in mind that it is much easier for students to find area and perimeter of rooms and the entire house when they use graph paper.
Also, by giving them an example floor plan and a few symbols used in floor plans, it will be easier for them to get started. I’m not great at making big charts, so I prefer to make copies of mine for students. If chart-making is your gig, go for it!
Students generally LOVE this part of the project. It’s a chance for them to really let their haunted house shine! Provide students with a list of everything their brochure must include beforehand, and let their creativity take over.
I also think that when students can refer to a scoring rubric while make their projects, it helps them to do an even better job and meet the criteria for an outstanding project. (All scoring rubrics for my Haunted House PBL Unit are included for you.)
3 Modes of Writing
This is a great chance to help students understand that we write for different purposes. Through the three modes of writing, they can persuade people to visit their house, inform them about the house, and describe (narrate) an event that happened at the house.
Have students plan and write a paragraph about their haunted house for each of the three modes. I like allowing students to publish their writing in more creative ways, so I use a flip book, with one page for each of the three paragraphs. Lined paper would be just fine, though!
Other Halloween Project Based Learning Ideas:
Of course, I always like to throw in a few other bonus activities that I know students will enjoy. Some other ideas of things you can do during this unit are:
- Create a shopping list
- Planning the props
- Choosing a cause (to donate proceeds)
- Building a spooky playlist
- Haunted selfies
- Haunted house word problems
- Making a advertisement poster
- Concession stand planning
The spooky sky is the limit with this unit! Here are some photo examples of the ideas I listed above:
This Halloween Project Based Learning Unit is pretty much guaranteed to be a haunted homerun!
Remember that you are free to make the project as big or as simple as you feel is best for your students. The key is to provide them opportunity for collaboration and problem-solving.
While some PBL units will require research, this Halloween project based learning unit does not demand it. It definitely can have its place, though. I personally would have students do research to find a particular cause for which their haunted house could raise money. I like this kind of research because I find that students are sometimes inspired to actually take their ideas and put them into action in the real world, thus making a difference in someone else’s life.
If you love this unit, be sure to read my blog post about 10 Winter Project Based Learning Ideas that your students will LOVE!
My ready-to-go, printable Design a Haunted House Unit includes all the pieces you see in the photos above, plus a few more. All scoring rubrics, templates, and printables are included! I created it keeping your busy schedules in mind, so it’s basically print and go. Isn’t NO PREP a great thing?
Looking for More Seasonal Learning?
If you love connecting your classroom learning to the seasons or holidays then you must check out these other posts. Here are many seasonal activities that will engage your students while still keeping them focused on the important skills and standards they need.