Halloween will be here before you know it! That means that it’s time to bust out our trusty boxes of scary decor and plan our most creative costumes. 🎃 But in the meantime, countless animals are suffering in ways more frightening than even the scariest tricks—so make this holiday a treat by speaking up for them in big and small ways with animal-friendly, Halloween-themed lessons and classroom activities.
Here are 13 simple, festive ways to celebrate Halloween in your classroom while helping animals and instilling compassion in your students:
Hand out fun Halloween-themed animal coloring sheets.
Owls hooting in the darkness and bats (vampire and otherwise) flying in the night are two iconic images that come to mind when we think of Halloween. 🦇 But these often-nocturnal animals don’t deserve a scary reputation—they should be appreciated for the fascinating, unique creatures they are. Help your students get to know them with this fun, simple Halloween coloring sheet.
Play some vegan tricks.
There’s no doubt that your students will get their fill of sugar during the Halloween festivities, so trick them with a treat that isn’t candy—hand out some fun, informative TeachKind goodies instead. Students love our colorful sticker sheets and other cool items (including leaflets, comic books, magazines, and more). Check out our selection of classroom materials and order a free set to share with your students.
Share some homemade vegan treats.
If you decide to go the classic candy route when handing out vegan treats, there is no shortage of options to choose from (see number 6 below). But we think homemade treats are just as sweet! Check out these easy-to-make, super-adorable ideas designed for the classroom. The best part? Many of them—like Jack-o’-Lantern Orange Cups, Pretzel Broom Sticks, and Ghost Apple Treats—are healthy, too.
Use cute Halloween candy tags.
If you want to be extra-festive, print out these cute Halloween-themed Nugget tags and attach them to vegan candy in order to remind students that they can help animals by choosing cruelty-free snacks.
Show a scary movie.
Nothing screams “Halloween” more than a horror movie—and haunting documentaries such as Earthlings, The Cove, and Blackfish expose the cruelty to animals that occurs in many industries. Choose one of these films to share with high school students and assign research papers based on the issues that are addressed. If you’d like something shorter, choose from a selection of “scary” PETA videos that cover various animal rights issues and are only a few minutes long.
Have vegan candy available in the classroom.
Let’s be honest: Halloween is all about candy, so be sure to keep it compassionate and vegan by choosing from the many animal-free options. Have a selection of vegan candies available, and let students know that the delicious goodies are cruelty-free.
Have black cats’ backs—and do the same for other companion animals, too.
Did you know that black cats have a lower chance of being adopted from shelters than other felines do? Help your students see that superstitions about black cats are unfounded by organizing a field trip to your local open-admission shelter and discussing ways to keep animals safe at Halloween. Most students love to spend time with animals, and this will give them an opportunity to learn more about the importance of adopting rather than buying. You can follow up with other activities that focus on helping homeless animals.
Make animal masks.
Encourage your students to dress up as their favorite animals for Halloween, and ask them to learn a few interesting facts about the animals that they can share with the class. Before the holiday, have them create animal masks that they can wear as costumes. If you work with grades 3–6, try a TeachKind lesson that makes this activity a full-fledged learning opportunity.
If you work with preschool or kindergarten students, print easy-to-color animal masks—choose from a pig, a chicken, or a bunny—and share fun facts about each animal as students decorate the masks with their own designs.
Teach a bone-chilling lesson about skeletons and comparative anatomy.
Your Halloween decor probably includes skeletons, but do your lesson plans? If not, you’re missing out! Plan a bone-chillingly interesting exploration of skeletons using TeachKind’s free comparative anatomy lesson. It demonstrates just how much human and nonhuman animals are alike and is perfectly suited to the holiday.
Create pumpkins with compassionate messages.
Will you be carving or decorating pumpkins with your class? These cute stencils put a fun animal rights twist on a classic Halloween tradition. If you’re reluctant to let students carve the pumpkins, they can decorate them with animal-friendly messages using paint, permanent markers, and other craft items—no sharp tools necessary.
Host an animal-friendly Book-O-Ween.
Have you heard of Book-O-Ween? To celebrate it with your students, choose your favorite animal-friendly children’s book, dress up as one of its characters, and then read it aloud in class as part of this special event. Check out TeachKind’s ideas for great activities and costumes for Halloween-themed opportunities to teach your students to have empathy for animals.
Invite a Switch Witch to visit your class.
A Switch Witch is a visitor who exchanges Halloween candy for other goodies. Put one in your classroom and explain that in order to help both students and animals, the scary guest will be taking nonvegan candy from willing students after the holiday and exchanging it for either vegan candy or another small gift. Then, give the donated treats to a homeless shelter or other facility in your community that could use them. This is a great classroom tradition, because you can be as creative as you want by choosing how to treat your Switch Witch like a guest, what your students’ candy exchange gift will be, and what to do with the candy that they give away. Buy one here!
Help end the scariest thing practiced in schools: dissection.
If your school is still conducting archaic and cruel animal dissection, take the opportunity to help end this horrifying practice. Talk to your school’s principal or science director about the many benefits of using high-tech virtual-dissection software, which makes it easy to ditch the scary practice of cutting up dead animals in class. Because that’s creepy.