Teaching Ideas / drama

Halloween Themed Drama Games for the ELA Classroom

A photo of two teen girls talking. Above the photo is a white border with pink text reading "Drama Games for Secondary ELA"

These Halloween themed drama games will help students flex their creative muscles & boost their public speaking skills, all while having fun.

A photo of a stage with purple curtains and blue lighting. There is a white rectangle in the middle with the words "Drama Games for Secondary ELA" in pink and black ink.

I’ve blogged about Halloween themed ELA activites before, but this year I wanted to focus games. Drama games and improv are a great way to boost student confidence and increase collaboration in your classroom. These Halloween themed drama games will give you those same benefits, while adding some seasonal flair!

Drama is a great way to build public speaking skills, memory, and community in the classroom. I have used drama with grades K-12 in France, Germany, the US, and Puerto Rico, and students beg for more. Literally. After finals one year, I was planning to show a movie, and students asked to reprise some improv games instead. How cool is that?

So, where do you start? Start with improvisation.

Improv is spontaneous, unscripted acting, and it is excellent for building student confidence. First off, improv games are short and funny. Second, students are working toward a common goal. Third, since we don’t grade improv, it’s inherently “low stakes.”

Here are three Halloween themed drama games that I’ve used for English, ESL, Creative Writing, and Public Speaking classes and workshops.

1. “Slide Show”–This is a tableau game that can be planned or unplanned.

One student will be the narrator of a slideshow describing an occurrence. The other characters act out the event slide by slide, and the narrator describes what happened to the audience. It’s great to give the tableau participants time to plan (2-3 minutes, for example) and give them several tableaux (4-5). Leave the narrator in the dark about what they’re planning, since this interpretation is a wellspring of humor.

Why this game is great:

*The narrator is thinking on their feet to interpret a tableau.

*The tableau participants are practicing sequencing.

2. “Scary Movie in a Minute”–This boils stories down to core elements.

In this game, actors work in groups to tell the story of a scary movie in one minute, then 30 seconds, and then 10 seconds. Students can choose a Spooky Setting and use it as an inspiration for their movie. This works well with about ten minutes to prepare, and you can have all groups preparing at the same time. After they finish their one-minute versions, they should speed up and try to do the entire story in the shorter timelines (30 secs and 10 secs). This will require actors to shorten scenes and pick out the most essential content.

Why this game is great:

*Students work on setting a scene through voice and dialogue.

*In the sped-up versions, students must prioritize the core elements of the plot.

*It is “low stakes” because the scenes are short.

Want more? Check out my bundle of Halloween themed lessons on TPT!

3. “Monster Mash”–A Halloween improv game (variation on “Party Quirks”)

A new monster hunter in town hosts a party to get to know some local monsters. Three actors receive scary characters or classic monsters from audience suggestions while the host waits outside. The host reenters and starts setting up the party. One by one, the doorbell rings and each monster enters, joining the party. Now, the monsters won’t come right out and say who they are, but they must use dialogue and reactions true to their character. The monster hunter is gauging all of this information and trying to come to a conclusion. Once the monster hunter can successfully identify each monster (and be met with audience applause), they can slay the monster (what a terrible party host!). The host wins when they have defeated all the guests. This Halloween improv game is sure to be a BIG hit with your students 🙂

Why this game is great:

*Students work on characterization and moving with confidence on stage

*Actors must listen and cooperate with each other

*It is funny, which is a great way to help students forget their speaking in front of the entire class!

Final thoughts:

The top of this image is a photo of two girls, one blonde, one brunette, leaning in front of a tan brick wall. The brunette is holding a speech bubble above the blonde. Below the photo is an orange square with white text that reads "Drama Games for Secondary ELA"

I hope you are excited to try out these Halloween themed drama games with your students! Please let me know how it goes, I love hearing student feedback 🙂

If you’re looking for some Halloween lessons and activities that are more reading and writing focused, check out this blog post.

Happy teaching!

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