Gather all your ghosts, ghouls, and frightful friends because it’s Halloween.
Halloween dates back thousands of years to the Celtic people of ancient Europe, who recognized October 31st as the last day of autumn with crop harvesting and celebratory festivals. They also believed this was the time that the regular world and spirit world were most closely connected, so people wore masks and costumes to fend off unfriendly spirits.
Over time, the holiday has evolved into a secular one, with trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, scary movie marathons, and parades full of costumed revelers. Halloween is a great time to embrace your spooky—and silly—side with friends and family.
Keep scrolling to learn about the science behind what scares us, and try out fun crafts and costume ideas! And don’t miss a weekend of spooky fun featuring some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters with a Halloween themed PBS KIDS Family Movie Night!
Grades PreK-3 There’s a lot that can make Halloween (and all the days leading up to it) a little scary for under-fives. If your preschooler is unsure about joining in the Halloween festivities, here are fun ideas to help make the month of October not (even slightly) scary.
Grades 6-12 Learn how fear may be contagious, in this video from NOVA’s Gross Science series. Animals give off bodily secretions called pheromones that can communicate information, such as potential threats, to other members of the same species. Similarly, humans release chemosignals in sweat when they are scared or stressed.
Grades 6-12 Here’s a look at the science of why some of us are afraid of spiders, snakes, roaches, and other creepy crawlies. Did we evolve to be this way, or did we learn to be afraid of them? It seems to be an open question…
Grades PreK-4 Some monsters seem scary, some sympathetic, while others can only be described as supremely silly. Whether they’re hiding under the bed, or going bump in the night, monsters may be all around! Get crazy with some monster madness using this list of recommended books for children ages 0-9.
Grades 6-12 Explore the terror of gothic tales in this video from the American Masters film, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive. Poe’s legacy centers on his horror stories and his ability to tap into the fears of his readers, like the fear of being buried alive. Engage students through discussion questions and teaching tips that ask them to explore why some literature is timeless, analyze the tales featured in the video, and to create their own dramatic reading of a famous Poe story.
It’s time to get carving! Create unique PBS-themed jack-o-lanterns by printing out your favorite stencil, tracing it onto your pumpkin, and carving carefully using a kitchen knife. These templates will make carving Halloween pumpkins a breeze!