Today I wrapped up my final Halloween activity at Fuchuen Elementary School, where I teach ten classes on Mondays and Tuesdays.
These two days flew by for me because I had such a fun time with the students!
We used the supplies provided by the school textbooks' publishers as Halloween decorations.
In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to dress up as a witch, complete with green face paint and red lipstick. I heard gasps and even screams of excitement from students as I walked through the hallways donning my witch hat. On my commute to and from school, I caught multiple drivers staring at me in bewilderment. It was a bit mafan 麻煩 (troublesome) to completely wash off the green paint from my face after school, but I got a kick out of my students' reactions.
At the start of each class, I introduced the following vocabulary words associated with Halloween: spider, ghost, witch, candy, bat, pumpkin, and jack-o-lantern. I used realia (i.e. objects from real life) to enhance the students' understanding of the words. I also incentivised student participation by distributing Halloween pencils and stickers to those who correctly recalled the words. (Shoutout to my mom for sending me Halloween supplies from the U.S.!)
Afterwards, I revealed the next activity we would complete together: paper lanterns! The lower grades designed ghost and pumpkin lanterns, while the upper grades designed the more intricate bat lanterns. (To view the instructions for this activity, visit this blog.)
In preparation for Halloween, I spent hours poring through Pinterest boards (it gets addicting quickly) for activity ideas. Thankfully, the Fulbright Taiwan TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) advisors shared their Pinterest account with the ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) this year to provide us with lesson planning ideas (see below).
My LET (Local English Teacher, or co-teacher), Teacher Nana, informed me that I would need to send her a list of ideas sometime during the week prior to Halloween. This is due to the fact that when we do special activities, we need to inform the homeroom teachers in advance that their students must bring additional materials to English class. Specifically, we asked that the students bring three things: markers, glue, and scissors.
Teacher Nana and I knew ahead of time that the lantern activity would require modeling before students began to minimize confusion. We developed a nice rhythm as each class went by on Monday and Tuesday -- I stood at the front of the classroom and made an example lantern for every class while Nana translated the directions step-by-step for the students. Due to our modeling of the activity, we encountered only a few mishaps! Some students cut or folded their lanterns in the wrong direction, but I had extra paper on hand for this reason. As students drew their designs, I circled around the room to assist students and answer questions.
Students put a lot of creativity into their lantern drawings -- I was very impressed!
(Click the photos below to switch to full screen view and read the captions.)
Last, but not least: FACE PAINTING! (Courtesy of yours, truly.)
We asked that the students come to our desks after drawing their lanterns so we could staple their lanterns. This worked well because it allowed us to keep track of how many students completed the paper lantern activity. As each student lined up at my desk, I asked them if they would like to have their face painted. I asked that each student say the English name of what they wanted before I began painting. Some students wanted other things painted on their face, such as: eyes, mustaches, vampires, skulls, and Frankenstein!
Face painting was a huge hit with all of my students -- even my 6th graders! At times, the line for face painting was so long it nearly reached the classroom entrance from my desk.
And with that, my unconventional Halloween celebration finished this year. I've never had the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural exchange through Halloween festivities before. In other words, this was a completely novel experience -- knowing I could take full ownership in these activities was very rewarding.
None of the students (or teachers) at my school dressed up in costumes, as there's no school-wide Halloween event. (The administrators at my school only set aside Christmas as a school-wide celebration, meaning the school will also pay for all the Christmas supplies.) I knew that the only exposure my students would have to Halloween festivities was inside the English classroom. So I wanted to make it a memorable holiday for them. My co-teacher and I shared all of the expenses for the Halloween activities this year, just as she did in 2015 with last year's ETA. It was definitely worthwhile.