October is truly one of the most magical months of the year. There’s something about the turning of the leaves and that crisp autumn chill creeping into the air that calls to the storytellers within us and begs us to spin some spine-tingling campfire tales. And then comes Halloween, when children and adults alike get to be creative, play dress up, and make believe for one unforgettable night.
Of course, just like vampires need to be invited to come in, sometimes our muses need a little extra encouragement too—and that’s exactly what writing prompts are for. Aimed specifically at elementary school students, these five Halloween-themed prompts are the perfect precursors to all manner of All Hallow’s Eve festivities. They’re also great starting points for some spectacularly spooky class projects.
Prompt #1: “Tell a ghost story as if you are the ghost.”
This Halloween prompt puts a unique spin on a classic idea. Rather than writing about an imaginary encounter with a ghost in a haunted house, ask your elementary students to try seeing things from a different perspective and write as if they are the ones doing the haunting. This can make for quite the chilling tale—but it also leaves the door open for more gentle-hearted storytellers to write something a little closer to Casper if they prefer.
Prompt #2: “Design your own Halloween Tree. Then, write a story starring your tree.”
While this writing prompt is the perfect follow-up to reading The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, it can also work just as well as a standalone story starter. It challenges your students on multiple levels. First, it invites them to think about what makes a tree a Halloween Tree. Second, it asks them to invent and draw an entirely original tree of their own. And third, they get to construct a narrative around the tree they’ve just invented!
This is ideally suited to older elementary students with more writing experience—however, you can easily adapt it to younger writers by asking them to simply describe the tree in detail, or assigning a more direct story starter such as, “Write about how you would feel if you saw this tree while trick-or-treating.”
Prompt #3: “Make up your own magic spell and explain when you would use it.”
No Halloween is complete without a little hocus pocus. Ask your elementary students to put on their witch hats and warlock cloaks to come up with their own magic spells and write down instructions for how to cast them. These can be anything from a fun rhyming poem to use as an incantation to a list of yucky potion ingredients or magic dance moves. Then, ask them to describe a situation in which their spell would come in especially handy. It’s a great way to get creative while teaching your kids about the importance of writing clearly—after all, if their instructions aren’t precise, how will other witches and wizards learn how to cast their spells?
Prompt #4: “You come across a creepy crawly creature while trick-or-treating. What does it look like, and what do you do next?”
Just because Halloween is magical doesn’t mean it can’t also be scientific. You can add a little biology to this witch’s brew with this prompt by asking your elementary students to include the scientific name of their chosen specimen as well as some fun facts about it, like what it likes to eat or where it typically lives. Alternatively, for a more artistic spin, you can ask them to “discover” a new creepy crawly of their own.
Prompt #5: “Make believe you have traveled to another time and place. Describe what celebrating Halloween looks like where you’ve ended up.”
This Halloween prompt works well as both as history lesson and a lesson on understanding and exploring other cultures. After discussing some traditions from different times and places around the world together as a class, ask them to choose one they find particularly interesting and describe it as if they’re living it now. This is a nice alternative to the typical prompts asking your students about their families’ traditions as it is inclusive to all of your kids, even those whose families do not celebrate Halloween.
Get Your Markers Ready!
Regardless of which Halloween traditions (if any) you or your students practice, autumn has long been a season of harvest and community; the days grow short, the nights grow long, and stories grow ripe for the picking. With these five prompts, you’ll be well-equipped to help cultivate your student writers and harvest the fruits of their own creativity—and have a little spooky fun while doing it.
For free resources to help harness the spirit and creativity of All Hallow’s Eve for use in the classroom, be sure to check out our online teacher’s lounge, and sign up today for your free publishing kit!