FS stands for Fun Size! This episode is the first of my “fun size” episodes for the Help for Special Educators podcast. Imagine that I’m dropping by your class to chat and give you a little, fun size candy bar, like kids get at Halloween. These episodes will be short and sweet!
Help for Special Educators podcast host, Lisa Goodell, discusses virtual Halloween party ideas when one is teaching via distance learning, including what to consider when kids are at home versus attending school in person, a Zoom or Google Meet costume game, and other extra stuff if one has paraprofessionals or room parents to help.
Episode 21 Show Notes
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Transcript by temi.
Lisa Goodell (00:02):
Hi, this is a fun size episode of the Help for Special Educators podcast. Imagine that I’m dropping by your class after school to chat and give you a little fun size candy bar, just like the kids Get at Halloween. This episode will be short and sweet.
Today I’m going to be talking about virtual Halloween parties that you can do on zoom or Google meet when you’re not doing in person instruction. We all know that kids love dressing up for Halloween and dressing up for a party is the best. I don’t know if your school traditionally allows kids to wear costumes to school on Halloween, but this year is unique. So make sure to find out what is and isn’t allowed during school hours. I think it would be hard to have a virtual Halloween party without costumes because somebody in your class will probably wear one anyway, whether it’s allowed or not. So I think it’s best to let them wear their costumes, but you also need to find out if there are any other guidelines, the school wants you to follow. When I taught self-contained students at my elementary school, kids could not bring weapons, accessories, or wear costume masks that covered their faces.
It was usually due to safety issues on the playground or having an accessory lost or taken away. So maybe this is the year that they are allowed to wear those things because they’re staying at home. We also had a rule about no scary or bloody costumes at school that might still be a good idea, especially if you are working with elementary school students, okay, here’s a virtual game. I thought of for kids to be able to show their costumes when you’re doing a zoom or a virtual video meeting, tell kids that they will be trick or treating at your house this year. Of course, virtually when you’re all together for your Halloween party meeting, have kids start off with their video screens off. They can unmute themselves maybe to talk, but make sure their video screens are off. And then you will be by your door.
It can be virtual or actually your door, whether it’s your classroom or your home, and then pick a student to go first, make it a big deal to use your imagination. When you do this type of thing, tell that student that they are walking up to your door and you might prompt them. Like, what do you do when you get to the door? And then the student can make the doorbell sound, ding dong. And then you could say, well, who could that be? And then pretend to open the door. And then that’s when the student turns on their video, they can shout trick or treat. Of course, everyone, including you will exclaim over their costume and you can pretend to give them a treat and so reach out to the camera and then they can also reach out to the camera and pretend to take the candy.
And then you just say goodbye. And then you choose the next student. And then you just repeat and go through the whole classroom with anyone who has a costume on. But if you are really stressed with everything that’s going on in our world right now with COVID and everything else, that could be the end of your party. Okay? You don’t have to try to provide snacks or crafts or anything else, because really it’s all about the costumes for the kids and of course candy, but the parents can provide the candy. Now, if you want to do more than just the costumes for your virtual Halloween party, then here’s some other ideas. First, I suggest that if you have some other adults to help out, that will lighten the load for you. So if you have room parents or paraprofessionals, make sure you take advantage of their help.
The other thing I would say is try to include your students in the party planning that will make it more exciting for them to be a part of what’s going to happen. One thing that you could have your students help you with is to create their own backdrop or party decorations that they will have in their home. One idea is to have a real backdrop in their house. Maybe they can color on some butcher paper or decorate with some balloons or little dollar tree, Halloween decorations. Another thing would be to just do a complete virtual background and you could have the students do this during the week, leading up to Halloween where they could use PowerPoint or Google slides to create their own virtual background. They could be using their own painting skills virtually, or they could be downloading pictures from the internet to create their background.
So this could be an assignment that you do during class beforehand that will get them pumped up for the holiday. Another thing is, if you want to have some kind of party snacks or treats, you’ll also need to plan ahead for this. You might want to have parents donate items, just like if you were at school in person, but you would have to have a deadline for them to drop off those things either at school or have you pick them up or take them to the room parents house. However you want to do that, you might include things being donated, such as Halloween thing to plates, napkins, packaged treats, items, or ingredients to assemble a food item or craft during the party. So the parents can donate those things ahead of time. And then you could get the room parent or your paraprofessionals to divide those things up and then make an individual party kit for each student.
And then those will also have to be distributed. Somehow whether parents come to school and pick them up, or if you or your staff distribute them to the kids’ homes. So again, this is a lot of extra work. I don’t think you have to do it, but some of you may have staff and people who would really get excited and enjoy doing this. Another thing to consider if you’re going to be doing a craft or some type of assembling food, is that if students have their costumes on, you might not want to mess up their costumes. So you might have them dress up at the beginning of your party and then take a 10 minute break and have them take off their costumes and put on some old clothes or something. So then when they get busy making their craft or snack, they won’t mess up their costume.
I think the most important thing is to have the kids dress up. They’ll be excited to see each other dressed up. And that just helps with that social, emotional learning that we know is so important during this time of school closure. Another thing to consider is when do you want to have your party? Do you want to have it during the school day? Or do you want to plan it for some time in the evening of say October 30th or 31st, it might be better to do just a quick party on Halloween when they might already be dressing up. Anyway, if you did it, then that would also give you a reason not to do a full blown party with snacks and games and everything else. You could just do the costume and veiling part for your party. Remember, don’t work yourself too hard or put too much pressure on yourself. This is not a normal year. So give yourself a break. So I hope these are a few ideas that will help you if you are doing virtual learning during a COVID school year, or if you have some other reason why your school is closed during this time of year.
And that’s it for this fun size episode. Thanks for listening. And I hope you heard something helpful. Remember, you are amazing! This is Lisa Goodell, and I look forward to talking to you next time.
Podcast Host: Lisa Goodell
Lisa Goodell, M.A., launched the “Help for Special Educators” Podcast on April 1, 2019. She has taught for over 24 years, including third grade, resource/inclusion (RSP), and mild/moderate self-contained (SDC). Currently, she is an itinerant orthopedic impairment (OI) specialist/teacher for students birth to 21 years old in all general ed and special ed settings.
Lisa has a master’s degree in special education and six special ed and general ed teaching credentials. She has been honored as “Teacher of the Year” at both the elementary (2014) and secondary level (1994). She lives in rural Central California with her family and a bunch of cats. Connect with Lisa here.
Check out her TeachersPayTeachers store, “Lisa Goodell.” You can also get more information by listening to the beginning of Episode 1.