How to get pupils inspired about spooky holidays

Date Posted: 05/10/2017

STO rounds up some trip ideas to help engage pupils with the history of Halloween and Bonfire Night this year and next.

There are many misconceptions about Halloween and Bonfire Night these days and many children enjoy dressing up and collecting sweets. But teachers can also use the events to educate their pupils about the reasons behind the holidays and traditions. 

Halloween can tie in with both History, Literacy and Religious Studies, with many religions and cultures celebrating it in different ways, and some not celebrating it at all.

It is important for pupils to understand that there are meanings behind these holidays, to see them for their true purpose as well as just a bit of fun. 

Halloween

Although many events will be taking place during October half term this year, there are still locations for schools to visit throughout the year which offer educational trips for teachers to organise. 

Halloween is believed to originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain 2,000 years ago where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to not be recognised by evil spirits. 

There are many English Heritage sites which allow youngsters to learn of the stories behind the history of 31st October. Whitby Abbey, Dover Castle and Kenilworth Castle are among those which provide Halloween events. At these locations pupils can also develop their knowledge in other areas.

Whitby Abbey also has links to the story of Dracula, which pupils can tie into their Literacy studies. There’s also a visitor centre on site which will allow pupils to discover more about the history of the gothic ruin. 

Whitby Abbey

Pictured: Whitby Abbey.

Schools visiting Dover Castle can learn more about its involvement in wars including WWI. Pupils can visit the Underground Hospital and the Operation Dynamo exhibition. This classic castle is the perfect setting for a spooky trip for pupils and the history its seen over the year’s is bound to include a few ghostly stories.

Of course, teachers will need to be on the lookout for Halloween events that will take place during term time, with this changing every year.

The London Dungeon is also hosting Halloween events for school bookings. Although this trip may seem more like fun, it offers educational benefits through workshops and resources relating to history. Pupils will learn more about how Halloween was celebrated during the 19th Century. As the London Dungeon is open all year round, you can enjoy an extended spooky experience either side of Halloween. Schools also receive a discount on ticket prices and workshops are available.

Bonfire Night

Many think of the 5th of November as being a time for fireworks and bonfires, however you’d be surprised at how many children don’t know the story behind the date. Teaching pupils about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot can be made fun by incorporating it into a school trip. There are many sites around England which claim to have links to the Plot and visits can be planned throughout the year. 

Warwick Castle

Pictured: Warwick Castle.

Coughton Court, Warwickshire is believed to be where some of the horses, arms and ammunition were stored for the planned uprising that The Gunpowder Plot hoped to begin. A visit here could be linked to History. 

Lyveden New Bield, Northamptonshire is the place where one of the plotters, Francis Tresham, is believed to have written an anonymous letter, which exposed The Gunpowder Plot to the authorities. This could link to History and Literacy and teachers could encourage pupils to write their own letter uncovering the Plot.

Guy Fawkes Inn, York is said to be where the infamous Fawkes himself was born. It is believed that Guy was baptised across the street in the local church too. Students could stop off in the area to learn more about Fawkes himself, linking to History.

The Houses of Parliament is the place where the Plot was meant to be carried out. Schools can take special guided tours of the two houses; the House of Lords and the House of Commons. There is also the Parliament Education Centre which offers plenty of curriculum links. Linking to both History and Politics, students might like to visit to get an idea of the scale and effect that the Plot would have had, had it have been successful.

The plotters are said to have raided Warwick Castle for supplies such as horses in order to try and help their fight against the King’s men. A trip to the castle in Warwickshire offers plenty for schools besides Halloween and Fawkes related events. This iconic castle is renowned for its schools offering, and pupils can learn about many different eras.

School Travel Organiser's Guide
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