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How many of you had fun lesson-planning Halloween themed activities for your ESL classes this year?
I hope some of you had a chance to use my free printables to help you out! This year’s addition included an activity my students loved about candy in the US and the UK.
Yes, it’s that different to what’s available in Europe!
Sidenote on (Halloween) Food Vocabulary
Before I get into the lesson plan ideas, I have to say that it’s so much fun to teach ESL students about  “American food”.  Children and adults alike had a blast with the candy matching activity I mentioned above, and advanced students had fun with more complex vocabulary like “gooey”.  Actually, I find any time I’m using authentic materials (like novels, newspaper articles or websites) and we come across a food word students don’t know, they are surprised to find out what it is.
For example:
Marshmallows, peanut butter, pecan pie, smores and oatmeal have gotten some surprised or disgusted reactions!
In fact, in my upcoming TpT store, I’ll have a workbook dedicated to food vocabulary. It’s definitely one of my favourite things to teach!)
Free Printables Library
So, this short but sweet Sunday morning post is for those of you who aren’t quite ready to dig into American Thanksgiving and Christmas themes.  Or, those of you (like me) who find that your students love spooky ghost stories no matter what time of year it is.

5 Thriller Lesson Plans You Can Use All Year

Here are five of my favourite lesson plan ideas for thriller or mystery content:

1.  Halloween Around The World

I always find “around the world” lesson plans are a fun cultural activity in any ESL class. Whether you’re teaching a classroom full of students with diverse backgrounds, or a one-on-one private lesson, students have something to say about cultural differences.
In fact, some of my adult students here in Spain were surprised that Canada actually celebrates Halloween, just like the US.
History in English Class?

Of course, it’s always fun to add a little history in English class!  Have students look up Halloween’s (or All Saint’s Day) history as a holiday in the UK and US. A short group presentation is a great way to get in some group work, too. Be sure they’re speaking English while they work, though!

Here are a few questions you could get students to research:

  • Where did the holiday originate?
  • Why is it a “scary” holiday? (If you’re doing a different holiday, insert a different adjective)
  • Are there any differences in the way the holiday is celebrated around the world?


2. Paranormal Research Thriller Lesson Plan

Do you believe in ghosts? Do your students?  Whether they do or not, I often find kids and teens are actually interested in this topic. If not, they’re definitely interested in mystery and horror stories. So, why not take a few classes to investigate the topic of the paranormal? Using the “thrilling” adjectives in #3 below, you can even have them create their own stories.
Entity Seeker: Ghost seekers?

Stephanie Wertz Memory

One of my best friends who passed away seven years ago, Stephanie Wertz, was part of the group who founded Entity Seeker.  It’s now run by Morgan Knudsen who was one of Stephanie’s best friends; she’s even part of a few television shows in the US, UK and Ireland that investigate the paranormal.
Watching an episode of Haunted Hospitals or The Haunting or reading a book about the paranormal could make an interesting lesson plan. Of course, it’s probably more appropriate for older teens and adults than kids.

3.  Thrilling Adjectives

If my individual students are kids or teens, I like to have them create Halloween stories and do some creative writing. This is a great way to have them use their vivid imaginations and practice the writing process at the same time.

Before having them plan out a Halloween (or simply a spooky or mystery story), I give them a list of vocabulary words.  
By the way, there’s a new Crime & Conspiracies crossword puzzle for FREE in the printables library, if you happen to want to teach crime vocabulary!  I know some of my students are really into reading murder mysteries.

4. Short Stories

Speaking of mystery stories, reading stories can often be an easier thriller lesson plan than writing ones. 5 Short Stories Your Students Will Love
One of my Top 10 posts is this one on short stories. I have a bunch of my favourites in a convenient list. A couple of them are quite gothic and spooky themed, which students love. They especially love analyzing the endings!
If you read any of these, let me know in teh comments.
In my upcoming TpT store, I’ll have a whole host of affordable short story lesson plans (free sample in the printables library, of course!)


5. Ghosts of the Past, Present and Future

Finally, why not use the “ghost” theme to help students practice their verb tenses?  Create an activity where students have to work in a group to pretend to be the ghosts of the Past, Present and Future and present their predictions, analyze the present or reminisce about the past. 
This idea works quite well with an Ebeneezer Scrooge type lesson plan, which can fit into a Christmas themed plan, too 🙂 
What are your favourite spooky or thriller-themed lesson plans?  (Or your favourite ESL food lesson plans for that matter)
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Happy Teaching!
P.S. Photography lovers, the main image for this post (the skulls!) is one I took in Kutna Hora, Czechoslovakia way back in 2008. Creepy!

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