Teach Halloween Vocabulary with Poems

It’s October, so get ready for Halloween

It’s officially October and the countdown to Halloween! I’ve always loved the creepy vibe of the autumn season, so I was mighty disappointed when our school opted out of the school-wide Halloween costume parade and classroom parties, in favor of a more PC autumn festival. Fortunately, there are plenty of brave schools that still embrace this spooky holiday.

Halloween is high interest for kids…so why not make it fun

Kids generally really like Halloween, so it’s an excellent topic to leverage for teaching across all subject areas. Things were really different when my first teacher resource book, A Cauldron of Halloween Ideas, was published way back in the dark ages of 1994.

Now with the convenience of the internet, whether you need a creepy science experiment or a monster math activity, it’s instantly available. Since it is so convenient now to find exactly what you need, right when you need it, it’s much easier to make learning as fun as it can be.

Short poems make it fun to learn Halloween vocabulary words

I love using poems to teach just about everything, but for teaching vocabulary it’s a no brainer! I decided to create a collection of Halloween poems to specifically teach Halloween vocabulary words for kids in grades 2-4. Teaching content vocabulary was the goal, but I wanted to reinforce high frequency words (sight words) too.

I’m not a worksheet lover, especially the fill-in-the-bubble-like-a-high-stakes-test worksheet. I do believe in targeted teaching, but I much prefer teaching skills within the context of real reading, not in isolation.

Short poems are perfect for teaching quick Halloween vocabulary mini-lessons

As a former reading interventionist, I’m very time conscious. Mini-lessons are meant to be just that…mini. They should be quick, so short poems make a terrific teaching text.

Short poems build reading success in reluctant readers

While reading a book can seem overwhelming and frustrating for reluctant readers, reading (and especially re-reading) a short poem is achievable and can lead to mastery. And nothing builds reading confidence like reading successfully.

Halloween vocabulary poems can really multi-task

Short poems are terrific at multi-tasking. For instance, although I wrote these poems to teach Halloween vocabulary, they can certainly be used to target other language skills as well.

Following each poem are just a few ideas…

Oh, and all the poems also have elements that rhyme!

Image of Halloween poem, "Monster Problems," by Lorrie L. Birchall

Monster Problems

  • Phonics: silent/bossy e  (-ace word family: place/face)
  • Using picture clues to comprehend text: The picture of the frowning monster is necessary to understand the meaning (and humor) of the poem.

Image of Halloween poem, "We Are Trick-or-Treaters," by Lorrie L. Birchall

We Are Trick-or-Treaters

  • Phonics: long e vowel digraphs/vowel teams (ee, ea–meet, street, sweet, treat)
  • Hyphenated compound words (trick-or-treaters)
  • Alliteration (when/we, we/will, something/sweet, trick-or-treaters)

Image of Halloween poem, "When Monsters Have a Party," by Lorrie L. Birchall

When Monsters Have a Party

  • Literal and figurative language (finger foods)

Image of Halloween poem, "A Tasty Witch's Stew," by Lorrie L. Birchall

A Tasty Witch’s Stew

  • Phonics: Word patterns that make the same sound (oo-shampoo, u-gnu, ew-brew, stew)

Image of Halloween poem, "Poe at Halloween," by Lorrie L. Birchall

Poe at Halloween

  • Allusion (Referencing Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”)
  • Phonics: Word patterns that make the same long o sound (Poe, so, know, crow)

Image of Halloween poem, "Zombie Jane," by Lorrie L. Birchall

Zombie Jane

  • Compound word (girlfriend)
  •  Long a word patterns: Jane (silent e)/brain (ai vowel digraph)
  •  Layered multiple meanings of words: When a zombie likes someone for their brain (to eat it), it has a different meaning than for the rest of us!

Check out the entire collection of Halloween Vocabulary Poems

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