Modified Halloween Reading Lesson for Gifted and Exceptional Students: "The Haunted House"
The Story - "The Haunted House"
.A Halloween Story
Everyone knew that the house at the end of the dead end road was haunted. It wasn’t just the gray peeling flakes of paint off the sides of the house covered in layered webs of spider art displaying dead flies that gave it away. It was the muted screams of shrill voices that shattered the broken shards of glass in the darkened interior that kept the neighborhood kids walking on the other side of the block on most days.
But on the day before Halloween, an orange pumpkin suddenly appeared on the broken wooden steps leading up to door latched only by a single hook and latch. The pumpkin seemed lost as if it had been placed on the steps by mistake and wanted to move houses. In the dusk of the evening, the pumpkin appeared to cry real tears which made the sounds from the house shrill past the full moon and the night racing into Halloween day.
On Halloween day, the pumpkin was gone. The haunted house was quiet for the first time in years. The house had been painted a sunflower yellow and the broken windows had been fixed along with the wooden steps and the porch rails. The smell of baking pie permeated through the neighborhood. As the first kid walked up to the door and said “Trick or Treat,” the freshly painted black door opened slowly.
The pumpkin from the porch held out a brown paper bag with candy corns and said to the little girl, “Would you like some candy and a piece of pumpkin pie?” As the girl went into the house, she noticed a large square table with at least ten slices of pumpkin pie laid out on white paper plates. Taking a slice, she quickly ate it and within seconds, she disappeared. The pumpkin rolled her onto the broken wooden steps. As the afternoon turned into the darkest of Halloween nights, the house turned back into its brokenness and shrill screams with the biggest scream coming from the pumpkin sitting innocently on the edge of a broken wooden step waiting for the next trick or treater.
Original story by the author of this article - Copyrighted 2009
Modified Lesson Plan for Gifted and Exceptional Students
Identify the Main Idea and Details of the Story:
- Read the story, "The Haunted House."
- Identify the main idea and details of the story
- Use a graphic organizer to summarize the story ideas
Create a Vocabulary List:
Making Connections: Respond to the following questions.
- What is the main idea of the story and why? Who is the intended audience for the story?
- Why did the little girl trick and treat at the house that was known to be haunted? What was the effect of her decision-making? What would you have done differently in this situation?
- What is the pumpkin personification in the story and how is it used to tell the story?
- Who do you think the pumpkin represented in the last sentence of the story and why? ("As the afternoon turned into the darkest of Halloween nights, the house turned back into its brokenness and shrill screams with the biggest scream coming from the pumpkin sitting innocently on the edge of a broken wooden step waiting for the next trick or treater.")
- What is the tone of the author's attitude or feelings in the story?
- Compare and contrast two things in the story (i.e. house before Halloween and house after Halloween and pumpkin before and after Halloween). Work in collaborative groups of 3-4 and create a poster board using visuals to show the comparisons and contrasts of story visuals.
- Do the visual pictures add or distract from the haunting aspect of the story? Include details from the story in your answer.
Creating a Different Ending for the Story:
- How would you create a different ending for the story?
- Write a draft and present it in a pair-share group. Ask your partner to read and edit your draft and do the same for your partner.
- Revise your draft and think of ways to improve your ending to make the ending believable, haunting and true to the original story.
- Write a final ending and present it in a larger 4 person group reading.
Preparing a Skit of the Story:
- Add some drama to this lesson plan by creating a skit of the story.
- Allow students to write a skit playing the different characters in the story (i.e. the pumpkins (main and others); little girl; the house; the windows).
- Create time in the class period for allowing students to present the skit and have fun.
Teachers can create a modified lesson plan for gifted and exceptional students that will inspire and challenge them to become even better students in their own learning process. An additional activity can include students rewriting the story or creating their own Halloween story.