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Monday Morning Ready10.25.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

It's almost that time of year when children get into costume and traipse around the neighborhood. They ring doorbells and beg for treats. When you think about it, trick or treating is kind of a weird thing. Where did it come from anyway?... < read more >
Grade 3-4

What kind of costume are you wearing for Halloween this year? Why did you pick that costume?

Grade 5-6

What is your favorite "treat" to get on Halloween? What kind of "tricks," if any, do you plan to pull this year?

Grade 7-8

Like all holidays, Halloween is full of traditions. What's your favorite Halloween tradition? Why?

Grade 9-10

Are you surprised that Halloween began as a way of warding off evil spirits? Why or why not? How would you describe the holiday as it is celebrated today?

Design a Historically Inspired Halloween Costume


  1. Have students imagine that they decided to go trick-or-treating at the last minute this year. It's too late to get a costume from the store, so they have to make their own.
  2. Tell them that they already know several friends who are dressing up as Dracula, Frankenstein, goblins and ghouls. They want their costume to be different, so it's time to think outside the box.
  3. The best solution, they decide, is to design a historically inspired costume. How they interpret this theme is up to them. They can design a costume steeped in the history of Halloween or they can pick someone famous in history and model their design after that person.
  4. Give students time brainstorm ideas. Then encourage them to draw a picture showing what their historically inspired Halloween costume would look like.


Invite students to share their drawings with the class. Challenge classmates to identify the historical inspiration for each design.


Grades 3-4:
As a class, brainstorm a list of potential ideas. Then divide the class into small groups. Encourage each group to select one idea. Have group members work together to design a simple costume to wear on Halloween.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, brainstorm a list of potential ideas. Then divide the class into pairs. Encourage partners to select one idea and draw a design for a simple costume to wear on Halloween.
Grades 7-8:
Have students complete the activity in pairs. Instruct them to conduct research to learn about the history of Halloween. Then give them time to brainstorm ideas for a costume based on the history of the holiday. Encourage each partner to design and draw his or her own costume. Compare and contrast the results.
Grades 9-10:
Have students compete the activity on their own. Encourage them to select a famous person in history and conduct research to learn about that person's life. Then challenge them to draw a simple, cost-effective design for a costume that reflects that person's personality. Encourage students to include at least three accessories that add to the design.
The Spirit of Halloween from Smithsonian Folkways
This combination of stories and music from the Smithsonian Folkways collection brings you a playlist that incorporates the spooky elements of Halloween such as ghosts, skeletons, witches and monsters.

The Cultural History of "The Addams Family"
As the spooky clan makes a new appearance on the big screen, read this Smithsonian magazine article for a look back on the mystery of their longevity.

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Read this article from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to learn about a rare public display that explores the unexpected intersection between craft and forensic science.

Spooky Storytelling for Halloween
In the spirit of Halloween, join the cultural interpreters in this video from the National Museum of the American Indian for a special storytelling session focused on scary stories told among Native families and friends. BEWARE! These stories may set your hair on end and keep you looking over your shoulder!

People Feared Being Buried Alive So Much They Invented These Special Safety Coffins
For centuries, inventors have been patenting technology to prevent such a nightmare from happening. Don’t believe it? Read this Smithsonian magazine article to get all the gory details.

Smithsonian Bat Expert Kristofer Helgen Answers Common Questions About Bats
To celebrate a cool Halloween creature—bats—invite students to explore this brief Q & A with Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the National Museum of Natural History.

Explore the Dublin Destinations That Inspired “Dracula”
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to follow in the footsteps of Bram Stoker and see how his hometown inspired him to write his famous horror novel.