Monday, October 31, 2016

Schools : It's Halloween : Let's learn & have fun ! Resources

Halloween! We all know that students love Halloween! So every educator has one or two activities to do in the classroom on Halloween.
Over the centuries, Halloween's already weathered a lot of changes, and I've summed some activities, two games and other resources to make your school students happy and have fun.

"Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition." 

credits: unknown
via Google Images

  • Ancient History:

Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years and is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. 

  • History of Halloween: Pagan Progenitor

It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. 

Halloween's origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe's Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year's Day, called Samhain (SAH-win).

On Samhain eve - what we know as Halloween - spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad.

All Saints' Day
Fra Angelico

  • Christian Influence:

Samhain was later transformed as Christian leaders co-opted pagan holidays. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints' Day, or All Hallows' Day.
The night before Samhain continued to be observed with bonfires, costumes, and parades, though under a new name: All Hallows' Eve—later "Halloween."
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween

Snap-Apple Night
painted by Daniel Maclise, 1833

The Christian holiday is likely rooted in the Celtic holiday, Samhain, or a number of other pre-Christian harvest festivals.

  • Secular Halloween:

Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. 

Edward Scriven's engraving of John Masey Wright's 
illustration to Robert Burns' Halloween

The word appears as the title of Robert Burns' Halloween (1785), a poem traditionally recited by Scots. 

It was brought to North America in the 1800s by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest celebration around a bonfire, sharing ghost stories, singing, dancing and telling fortunes.

Anoka, Minnesota, may be home to the United States' oldest official Halloween celebration. Beginning in 1920, the city began staging a parade and bonfire.

Secular Halloween
credits: unknown
via Google Images

In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.


  • National Geographic | History

National Geographic has a wonderful article all the origines of Halloween: Pagans, Celtic traditions, Christian influence, costumes, cards, Halloween Sugar Rush, pumpkins, magic and urban legends.

Halloween in the USA infographics
  • History:

History as well has different resources that you can include into your school curriculum telling the History of Halloween: videos, pictures, interactives, other.

via Ancient Origins


Halloween is a cross-curricular subject and students can develop their creativity in different matters. At the same time, they will evolve curricular skills.
The two articles on the National Geographic and History include a wonderful list containing useful information and resources that educators can explore on their own way, according students profile they are teaching.
Students will be encouraged to make a critical research using tablets and smartphones. They will be encouraged to be creative in their activities, have fun and learn about urban culture and traditions.

Gadgets help to prepare students to thrive in an increasingly digital world. And they love it! They are effective and vivacious in the activities that teachers propose for the course.


Languages, Arts, History, Music, Civics.

A cross-curricular project would be awesome.


All levels: (primary, elementary, high junior schools)

Teachers will adapt the activities to the level they are teaching.

Other Resources: Games & Doodles
  • Google Doodle Halloween

Google Doodle interactive game Halloween

"This year’s Halloween Doodle follows freshman feline Momo on her mission to rescue her school of magic. Help her cast out mischievous spirits by swiping in the shape of the symbols above the ghosts’ heads. And you’d better pounce fast - the ghost that stole the master spell book is getting away!

Google Doodles are always super fun. This year’s Halloween one is no exception. Before I say something, you should go and check it out. No, seriously. Do it.
Adorable, right? The Google Halloween Doodle is an amazing mini game starring a little cat wizard at Magic Cat Academy. 
In it, students play the protagonist, Momo the cat in a kind-of zoological Hogwarts. The game has you draw various shapes and lines to cast spells on ghosts and spirits as they try and get you - think Harry PotterWhile they’re hard at work in the library, ghosts burst in, wrecking the place.

screenshot Google Doodle Halloween 2016
via TNW
Students action is to fight them off. To do that, they’ve got to cast the right spell. This is done by drawing symbols that correspond with those shown above each ghost.
At first it is easy as only one symbol like a dash or an I appear. Soon though a ghost has a whole code on his head. This little game gets difficult pretty fast. 
As students progress, the ghosts get tougher and faster, and it becomes a fast-paced fight to stay alive. 

Students will celebrate Halloween by playing through five fun levels and beating devious boss ghouls along the way. 

screenshot Google Doodle Halloween 2016
via TNW
I had a lot of fun playing the game. It's a real nice treat from the Google Doodle team
This game is especially great to play on a smartphone or tablet. A great game for students of any age. 
It’s a ridiculously fun way to procrastinate at school, much like I’m doing now. 
The inspiration for this year’s cat spell-casting game came from a real-life black cat named Momo (photo here) that belongs to Doodler Juliana Chen. It seemed like a good opportunity for a cat hero, since the winner of last year’s Candy Cup Doodle was Yellow Witch and her black cat. 

Pokemon Go Halloween game

  • Pokémon Go Halloween
Halloween is here, and Pokémon GO has its own treats to give out! Started October 26 until November 1, students can receive more Candies than usual. Every Pokémon they catch will award six Candies - twice the normal amount finding the game’s spookiest Pokemon: Drowzee, Hypno, Ghastly, Haunter, Gengar, Golbat and Zubat.

For returning students, there’s also a motivation to play pretty intensely for the next few days. Keeping with the Halloween theme, there are more treats everywhere, and players will get double candies for catching and transferring Pokémon, as well as quadruple candies for walking with their buddy Pokémon.
It’s all quite nice if your students are still playing Pokémon GoSome spooky Pokémon will also be much more common leading up to Halloween. Be on the lookout for more of the following Pokémon on your trick-or-treat route:

For more Halloween fun, students can visit, where they can download Pokémon pumpkin stencils and share their festive photos using the hashtag #PokemonHalloween.
Note: Pay attention to the age of your students on this activity. 

credits: Luna Joulia

Halloween screen
credits: Luna Joulia

  • Have fun: Screens

If your students want to change the screen of their iphones or tablets for Halloween, they can download from here. I think girls will be more enthousiastic about that than boys.

  • Literature:

Poem: The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar A. Poe
credits: Gothic illustration 

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— 
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— 
            Only this and nothing more.” 


Students will read the entire poem here

Of course in the next lessons you will study the poem with your students,right?


update 31.10.2021
Copyright © 2021G-Souto'sBlog,®

Creative Commons License
Schools : It's Halloween : Let's learn and have fun ! bG-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Schools : It's Fall Back Time ! Oh no !

credits: Sandor Ujvari/EPA

Here comes the dark! After 'here comes the sun' there it is the fall back timeToday October 29, time changes in Europa clocks. And other countries clocks in the world. No so much countries.

The fall back time - put clocks back - after the  autumn equinox, the length of day and night are equal, but day light starts decreasing. The autumn equinox arrived on September 22, officially marking the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

The autumn equinox fell in Libra - the sign of balance. Astrologically this represents the balancing of ones' ego and temper as one matures of age.

Solstices are opposite on either side of the equator, so the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere and vice versa.

The winter solstice occurs when the sun appears to stand still at the southernmost point of the equator (the Tropic of Capricorn) and then slowly begins to trek north again. 

The Winter solstice occurs on December 21 and marks the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice is about celebrating the rebirth of life in all forms. From here on out, the days will get longer and the Sun will shine brighter.

The term 'solstice' comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning 'the Sun stands still'. This is because on this day, the Sun reaches its southern-most position as seen from the Earth. The Sun seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then reverses its direction. It's also common to call it the day the Sun turns around.

Winter will start on the day of the winter equinox, which occurs on the night of 21-23 December 2016. December 21 or 22 solstices happen more often than December 20 and 23 solstices. The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303. A December 20 solstice has occurred very rarely, with the next one in the year 2080.

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.4 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest – 23.4 degrees – away from the Sun.

The winter solstice marks the first day of Winter. However, the official date for the first day of winter varies depending on the country's climate, and whether they follow astronomical or meteorological seasons.

As with the June solstice, the December solstice’s varying dates are mainly due to the calendar system. The Gregorian calendar, which is used in most western countries, has 365 days in a common year and 366 days in a leap year.

However, the tropical year, which is the length of time the sun takes to return to the same position in the seasons cycle (as seen from Earth), is different to the calendar year. 

The solstices can also be observed by noting the point of time when the sun rises or sets as far south as it does during the course of the year (winter in the Northern Hemisphere) or maximally north (summer in the Northern Hemisphere).

The December solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times until our day. Even Christmas celebrations are closely linked to the observance of the December solstice.

There are also customs linked to the June solstice along with traditions linked to the Spring (vernal) equinox and the Fall (autumnal) equinox.

Autumn festival/ Primrose Hill, London
credits: Getty Images
A number of Autumn equinox festivals has been celebrated as it will be at the winter equinox.

Modern-day Druids - who, like their ancient forebears put great store in solar milestones - marked autumnal equinox on Primrose Hill in London. 
Robed in white, members of the Druid Order gather on Primrose Hill to restate their allegiance to the universal principles on which their world view is based and accept life's harvest through symbolic actions and words. 

The ancient Maya - whose empire thrived between A.D. 250 and 900 in what are now Mexico and Central America - built observatories and, via astronomy and mathematics, learned to accurately predict equinoxes and other celestial phenomena. 


An interesting subject to discuss with our students: ancient traditions in different civilizations linked to seasons, autumn equinox and fall back time. Don't you think? 

I really do it! Students love to learn about different rituals and civilazations. Some are fascinatined on cultural matters.

Yet, the implementation of DLS (spring forward and fall back time) has been fraught with controversy since Benjamin Franklin conceived of the idea.  But the idea has 100 years at least if we don't think about ancient civilazations.

Less than 40% of the countries in the world use DST. Some countries use it to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings. The difference in light is most noticeable in the areas close to the Poles, i.e. furthest away from the Earth's Equator.

US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin first proposed the concept of DST in 1784, but modern Daylight Saving Time first saw the light of day in 1895. 

credits: Shipov
DST was first introduced in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. 

William Willett independently came up with the idea of DST in 1905. As an avid golfer, Willett disliked how his afternoon golf round was cut short by early days. 

During 1916, Germany and its allies in WW1 were the first countries to adopt daylight savings time to ensure consistent railroad times and limit coal usage.

Interestingly, not all countries participate in the fall back time. About 80 countries worldwide follow fall back time, while some major countries like China don't participate in fall back time.

"Most areas of North America and Europe observe daylight saving time (DST), while most areas of Africa and Asia do not. South America is mixed, with most countries in the warmer north of the continent near the Equator not observing DST, while ChileParaguay, Uruguay and southern parts of Brazil do. Oceania is also mixed, with New Zealand and parts of southern Australia observing DST, while most other areas do not". 
Most of the United States begins Daylight Saving Time starts Monday 6 November 2016, 2:00:00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to, 1:00:00 local standard time instead.
In the European Union, fall back time begins at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time). It starts the last Sunday in October. In the EU, all time zones change at the same moment.

Well, this year, fall back time comes near Halloween. So teachers can talk about Halloween, ancient traditions, modern traditions and science. Not bad as a subject to one or two lessons.

Some thoughts:

Teachers know that DST (spring forwards an fall back time) can be disruptive for us, and to students as wellStudents feel tired in the morning during the first week or two. We feel a bit stressed too. 

The rationale behind changing the times on the clock makes little (or more likely, no) sense to them. But let us explain the process using the video below:

Some years ago I presented another video by Mitch Butler and Josh Landis of "The Fast Draw" team providing an animated explanation for moving our clocks forward and backward in the spring and fall.

You can include one or two videos of this post into your curriculum to provide a good explanation of the rationale for DST. Students will understand better the reasons of it.


Some links to complete DST theme

Students might learn when DST happens in the different countries around the world - Geography curriculum 

But don't be fooled by the old rumor that on the autumn equinox the length of day is exactly equal to the length of night. (...)

Halloween, derived from Samhain, a festival of the ancient Celts and Druids, is a cross-quarter day – midway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice.

An interesting article that presents us 6 reasons against TSD in USA that you can argue in the classroom with your students if you live in the United States

Similar to the previous link but students might learn about DST in Portuguese, English and Spanish - Languages curricula

Students are always very curious about why 'things' happen! Here a good way to let them learn about DST fall back time, Autumn equinox, solstices, seasons and some traditions in different civilizations.

Well, some people don't like DST fall back. I do love DST Spring but I hate DST fall back time.

credits: Signe Baumane

It's DST fall back time. Don't forget 'to turn clocks backward' today 1.00AM (GMT).

Copyright © 2016G-Souto'sBlog,®

Creative Commons License
Schools : It's Fall Back Time ! Oh no ! bG-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.