Today’s (Halloween) 7th grade lesson was one of those rare times when everything came together perfectly. I didn’t plan for it back in the summertime planning-season, but when I realized it while planning for this week, I said to myself, “How could I ever do this differently?”
(That might be talking it up too much…read ahead and you be the judge)
Special Halloween Activities!
On Halloween, I like to do special activities. In the past years I have done movietalk activities and Halloween story reading activities. They don’t have much to do with the content we’re talking about this time of year, but it’s fun to have a day that doesn’t really relate to anything else content-wise and just have some spooky fun.
Today was no different. Well, it was a little bit different.
With my 4th graders, I did a movietalk activity with the short film “Alma,” available on Youtube. It is a 5 minute movie that is creepy and spooky but not outright frightening, especially for 9 and 10 year olds. It is one of the more popular short films for movietalk and there are lots of resources out there to help you get started with it (I first read about it here). I turned off the lights, showed a few screenshots and discussed what we saw in the pictures as well as told the basic facts of the story (in my scary Halloween voice, of course). Then we watched the movie and the kids summarized what they saw. The kids were slightly creeped out and really liked it. It went really well.
6th and 8th Grade
I couldn’t use this movietalk with my next groups of the day, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, because they watched it last Halloween. This wasn’t a problem for 6th grade because they are still working on their Hispanic Heritage Month Research projects (they went waaaaayyyyyy late because of our 2 day a week schedule, several days off for a hurricane, me being out with a sick kid of my own, and days off for our Fall Festival) and it wasn’t a problem for 8th grade because they’re doing their own spooky Halloween story activity – reading Mata la Piñata by Kristy Placido (more on that in another post).
7th grade was the only class I was not sure what to do with when I was planning for the week. Enter my savior for this Halloween, spanishplans.org and their material for the traditional story, La Llorona (this link is to the materials on TpT, I am not affiliated with them in any way, I just used these materials and thought they were very worth the small price). I spent the bulk of today’s Halloween lesson telling the story of La Llorona (modified a bit to work for 7th graders at the novice-mid to novice-high level). They liked the story and were interested and engaged, which is saying a lot for 7th graders who are being asked to sit quietly and listen to a story in Spanish for 30 minutes.
Here’s the Part You’ve Been Waiting For
But I didn’t just tell the story. As I was preparing, I noticed that the first trimester is almost over; Halloween comes about a week before the 2nd trimester starts. Because of this, I have been winding down units and projects and getting all the grades in. My plan for the next trimester with the 7th graders is to start a novel (well, a book of stories): Leyendas Impactantes by Kristy Placido.
This is a book of authentic legends from several different countries around the Spanish Speaking World. Knowing that this is coming up in the next few weeks, it me like a ton of bricks:
The kids are going to spend the next month and a half to 2 months discussing legends in Spanish and La Llorona is a legend from the Spanish Speaking World! And it’s a ghost story! And I can turn out the lights and make it creepy and spooky!
It was a perfect fit as a spooky ghost story for Halloween and as an introduction to what myths and legends are.
Before I started the story, the students and I discussed myths and legends they already know: Are they at all true? Where do they come from? What are some modern day myths or legends? We discussed this in the L1 and only for a few minutes (we’ll dive deeper once we start reading the book in November), then I flipped our flag to signal that it was time for TL and I started to tell the story of La Llorona.
A Stroke of Luck
I realize that this was an incredible stroke of luck. I am not sure if I would have come up with the idea of using La Llorona as an introduction to legends and I certainly wouldn’t have thought that a one-off Halloween story would turn into the introduction to an entire new novel unit.
Now the big question is, what other things can I do to introduce other novels? Hopefully I’m feeling as inspired next time I start a novel! As I reflect, there are so many more things that I could have done if I had given myself more than a few days to think of a Halloween activity.
Alas, I am a procrastinator and they’ll have to wait until a few days before next Halloween before I put them together.