Safe elementary classroom science, disguised as Halloween games, is an exciting way for kids to learn, while having some old fashioned fun. The senses will be engaged by whispered sounds, stinky smells, feeling slim, unappealing distasteful sights, and otherwise deceptive Halloween classroom science experiments.
Split your classroom into five different areas, each representing the five senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, and equip students with note-taking pads and pencils. You will be using the same items to demonstrate and experiment within each of the senses, and because these items need to be edible, I’ve used long spaghetti noodles and hard-boiled eggs.
Sense of Touch
To turn these experiments into Halloween themes, label them as I’ve indicated below, or add to them with some of your own. In five shoeboxes, cut holes from both sides, large enough to slip hands inside, just underneath the box lid. Fill each box up to the cut-holes level with the following items.
1. Dry snapped pieces of spaghetti – labeled “needle in a haystack”
2. Cooked and cooled long spaghetti noodles – labeled “worms and brains”
3. Cooked, cooled, long spaghetti noodles with either catsup, or red cake decorating gel (small tube) – labeled “bloody turkey guts”
4. Hard-boiled and peeled (sulfuric-smelly) eggs – labeled “monster eyeballs”
5. Hard-boiled, peeled egg shells – labeled “dragon and fish scales”
Have your students stick both hands into box holes, on either side, to get a hold of, and feel what’s inside of the boxes. Their job will be to guess what is really inside the box and write it down on their note pads, without telling anyone else. The first student, who guesses all of the above items correctly, will become the ghost-whisperer for the Halloween sense-of-sound science experiment.
Sense of Smell
Have the students guess at the awful smell when they first arrived, and what they smelled during the sense-of-touch experiment above. Give them time to write down all the smells they encountered on their note pads, without telling anyone else, and move into five groups for the next experiment.
Sense of Sound
Students will need to sit in five groups, and form circles facing the other members of their group. The five groups will send one person from their group to the ghost-whisperer (discussed above) who will privately tell those students the 5 correct items from the tactile experiment/game above.
Those five students will return to their groups and then whisper the correct findings to the next person in their group, telephone style, until it is whispered around to the last person in each group. The last students will need to tell the rest of the class what was whispered around their group, and how the story may have changed as it traveled around each group. The ghost-whisperer can then share the accurate findings from the sense-of-touch experiment.
Sense of Sight
Your students will now be able to see what was inside the boxes for the sense-of-touch experiment, by sharing one shoebox with each group, allowing them to lift off the box lids to look inside. You should also supply a bowl containing the same contents passed around with the corresponding shoebox to each group, for tasting.
Sense of Taste
As the boxes are passed around to the groups to see and touch, a corresponding bowl containing the same item, clean and edible, would be for your students to taste. The egg shells will be crunchy, but edible none-the-less (calcium). This step is as important as the first sense-of-touch step above, as the “bloody turkey guts” will look like that, but will taste sweet from the ketchup or cake-gel, and be yucky on cold spaghetti.
The data findings should be written down on your student’s Halloween investigation note pads, covering all five senses. Discussions about using the senses to determine what something is, or is not, should be covered, impressing upon your students the importance of waiting for all the data, before making decisions, or trusting a label (as in the first experiment). A factual, scientific conclusion, should consider all data before deciding, regardless of the fun Halloween scientific game-aspect, or not.