A Halloween Holiday Unit Study for Homeschoolers | Growing Up Herbal | We’re trying something new in our homeschool. We’re doing a holiday-themed unit study during our Winter Break all about Halloween. Here’s what it consists of in case you want to do one too!

At this point in the year, we’re usually knee-deep into the first term of our homeschool schedule, but this year, I decided to take a different approach and switch up our schedule to follow seasonal rhythms and changes. One way we’re doing this during the winter months is by implementing holiday studies. For the past two weeks, the boys and I have been working our way through a Halloween holiday unit study.

Today, I thought I’d pop in and share our plans with you in case you are a homeschool parent that would like to do one of these holiday studies at some point. Feel free to use our plans exactly or tweak them to fit your family’s needs. Above all, I hope this is something that inspires you to have fun learning alongside your children.

A Taste of “Unschooling”

Okay, so I’m no expert when it comes to homeschooling, and we certainly don’t fit into any “homeschool categories.” If I were going to try to categorize the way we homeschool, it would probably be a mix of Charlotte Mason and Classical. However, this Halloween holiday unit study loosely follows the Unschooling method of learning. With Unschooling, you take the interests of your child into consideration and then provide learning opportunities for various school subjects around those interests. Basically, it’s child-led learning with some assistance from the parent. At least, this is how I understand Unschooling.

Unschooling has always appealed to me, ever since I first began to research homeschooling when Judah was little. However, I’m not bent that way, and I’m not sure it’s something I could do fully. I do much better when I have a curriculum guide I can follow and tweak where needed, especially one that works to combine various grades as much as possible. Maybe this is possible with Unschooling — I don’t know. So far, my main goal in homeschooling my kids has been to give them a well-rounded education, letting them experience a lot of different topics, ideas, and styles in an effort to see where their interests lie. 

Now that the boys are older, and our new schedule affords us the opportunity to try something new, I thought I’d give this Unschooling style unit study a try to see how it goes. And here I am, two weeks later to say it went SO well. I loved it, the kids loved it, life felt manageable, and I feel that the boys did, in fact, retain a lot of the information that they learned. Because it went so well, I’ll be repeating this method for our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday studies as well.

Putting A Unit Study Together

A “unit study” is basically a bunch of school subjects that are pulled together for a specific period of time, all centered around a theme. For this holiday unit study, our theme was Halloween/Fall so all our subjects would be focused on Halloween or fall in some way.

Topic & Time Frame

I started by listing out various subjects I wanted to include, and then I searched Google and Pinterest to find ideas to pull into the study. I knew I wanted this Halloween holiday unit study to be short so we settled on two weeks, beginning on October 18th and ending on October 30th.

Subjects

For subjects, we focused on the following things: Literature, Geography, History, Science, Math, Music, Poetry, Spelling, Grammar, Handicrafts, Foreign Languages, and Art. Some days, each of these subjects was included, and other days, only a few of them were. 

For literature, I wanted to find a good book with some Halloween stories in it that we could use as a read-a-loud. I found one at the library called A Newbery Halloween: A Dozen Scary Stories by Newbery Award-Winning Authors. In addition to this, the boys would continue with the three daily readings that they do every day as well (a fun book of their choice — currently Harry Potter books and Little House On The Prarie — as well as a history book and science book of some sort). These readings don’t necessarily fit into the unit study, but they’re something we always do year-round, school or no school.

For geography, I knew I wanted to study the United Kingdom as that’s where most people agree that the origins of Halloween started. We incorporated quite a bit of mapping and flag studies, and we reviewed basic geography terms as they applied to the UK. To find maps and flags, I did a basic Google search for “blank United Kingdom map,” copied it into a blank Pages/Word document, and printed 2-3 off for each child. I did the same thing for flags, searching Google Images for each countries flag (England, Scotland, Great Britain, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland), copying a blank version, and printing them off, one per child. When it came to mapping exercises, I divided them up into countries, cities, oceans, rivers, and landmarks. Some of these exercises, like famous landmarks, required extra Google searches to find their exact locations.

For history, we used History.com’s Halloween 2018 article to pull information from. We studied the origin of Halloween, the history of Halloween symbols, and how Halloween is celebrated across different cultures.

For science, we studied topics that related to Halloween or fall such as bones and the human skeleton, pumpkin plants, cats, and leaves. We used the Handbook of Nature Study and my botany notes from the Herbal Academy’s Advanced Course. You could also do a Google search to find information on these topics. We did notebooking after each lesson which is basically a way to narrate what you just learned on paper. 

A Halloween Holiday Unit Study for Homeschoolers | Growing Up Herbal | We’re trying something new in our homeschool. We’re doing a holiday-themed unit study during our Winter Break all about Halloween. Here’s what it consists of in case you want to do one too!

For math, we took a break from regular math studies, and instead, focused on using math in the kitchen by following holiday-themed recipes. My goal was to emphasis following directions, learning about fractions, and teaching about measurements. To find these, I simply looked through the recipes I had here at home or I did a quick Google search for “healthy Halloween foods.” Everyone helped out and enjoyed the fruits of their labor! This was one of their favorite subjects! LOL!

For music, I downloaded the Kidz Bop Halloween album, and we listened to it in the background every day as we did art and math. When I first started thinking about music for this study, I realized my kids didn’t know any classic Halloween songs, but as I began searching around, some of them were not what I wanted the boys listening to. Thankfully, Kidz Bop takes modern songs and makes them kid-friendly so we went with that. This was another favorite subject, and the Ghostbusters theme song is their favorite, by far. I so wish I had videoed them dancing to it. Hilarious!

For poetry, I searched Google for Halloween poems, but many of them were not the quality I was looking for, so I went to Poets.org and searched their Autumn and Halloween poems. I chose some that were written by well-known poets like Thomas Hardy, Christina Rosetti, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, etc. I copied these into a Pages/Word document and printed it off. We read two poems each day, talked about unfamiliar words, tried to identify the rhythm of the poem, and discussed the meaning and how they made us feel.

For spelling, we focused on copywork and dictation. Each child chose a line or stanza (depending on their age) from one of their favorite poems we had read so far, and they copied it exactly in a notebook for three or four days. On the following day, we did dictation. For dictation, they spend 5-10 minutes studying the section of poetry they copied all week, focusing on how words are spelled. When time is up, we put the poem away, I read one line a few times, and they write it out in their notebook. And that’s it. Spelling complete.

For grammar, I wanted to spend some time focusing on learning how to write different styles of poems as well as some Halloween idioms, riddles, and tongue twisters. I used the poetry lesson section from Poetry4Kids.com as well as Google to search for idioms. For the idioms, I printed a list of idioms and their meanings off, and we discussed each one. Next, I cut the idioms out, mixed them up, and had each kid pair them back up. For the poems, we studied a different poetic style each day, and we put what we learned into practice by writing 1-2 poems in that style.

For handicrafts, I used my friend Jan Berry’s soapmaking book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and we made two different fall-scented soaps — Pumpkin Oatmeal Soap and Warm Apple Spice & Ginger Soap. We saved our handicraft days for Saturdays when we didn’t have any other school work to do. The kids also loved this since it was a hands-on activity.

For foreign languages, we continued with our normal Spanish lessons on Duolingo, but we did look up some Spanish words for Halloween terms via Google.

For art, I searched Google and Pinterest for easy Halloween art projects. Most of them were decorative so the boys could make the house feel like Halloween. You can find the list of what we did in the schedule below.

I also searched Netflix for some family-friendly Halloween movies the kids could watch and added them to our schedule in the evenings. 

Schedules & Gathering Supplies

I created a spreadsheet with our two-week schedule, printed it out, went to the library to gather books, placed an Amazon order for supplies, and hit the grocery store for food needed during the study.

A Halloween Holiday Unit Study

Below is a detailed look at our Halloween holiday unit study schedule. Again, feel free to follow this exactly or change it up to fit your family’s needs.

Thursday, October 18th:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK countries mapping, Flag of England
  • Origin of Halloween
  • Idioms
  • Caramel Apples
  • Ghost Garland
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Monster’s Inc.

Friday, October 19th:

  • Co-op
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Monster’s University

Saturday, October 20th

  • Pumpkin Oatmeal Soap

Monday, October 22nd:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK major cities mapping, Flag of Scotland
  • Bones
  • Acrostic Poems
  • Beef Stew
  • Model skeleton
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Hotel Transylvania

Tuesday, October 23rd:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK major rivers mapping, Flag of Great Britain
  • History and meaning of Halloween symbols
  • Limerick Poems
  • Zucchini Chai Muffins
  • Paper pumpkins
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Dictation
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Hotel Transylvania 2

Wednesday, October 24th:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK oceans/seas mapping, Flag of Wales
  • Pumpkin plants
  • Shape Poems
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Pumpkin Carving
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Hotel Transylvania 3

Thursday, October 25th:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK famous landmarks mapping, Flag of Northern Ireland
  • Cats
  • Cinquain Poems
  • Halloween Salt Dough Ornaments
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Curious George: A Halloween Boo-fest

Friday, October 26th:

  • Co-op
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Pooh’s Heffalump Movie

Saturday, October 27th:

  • Warm Apple Spice & Ginger Soap

Monday, October 29th:

  • Read-a-loud
  • UK geography terms, Flag of Ireland
  • Leaves
  • Diamante Poems
  • Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
  • Wax Leaves
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Copywork
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Tuesday, October 30th:

  • Read-a-loud
  • Halloween across cultures
  • Firestarters
  • Riddles
  • Pumpkin golden milk
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Dictation
  • Book reading 1, 2, and 3
  • Piano
  • Spanish
  • Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit

And that’s it! This is what our first holiday unit study on Halloween looked like. Overall, we spent between 2-3 hours doing group work before the boys switched to their independent work for a couple of hours. After that, they were done for the day!

I feel like we got a decent experience at how the Unschooling method of homeschooling would work for us, although there’s a lot of Charlotte Mason and Classical influence in this schedule. I can’t help it. We’re just so used to it that it naturally shows up! Ha!