About a month and a half ago the teaching staff was told to start thinking of activities for a Halloween party. Halloween is not really a big deal here in China, but since America gets so gung-ho about celebrating Halloween we were going to put on a party at EF.

The only guidelines we received about the Halloween party activities were that we we had to create enough activities for 20 minutes sessions, they should not be educational, and we could not repeat any of activities done from the year before.

Creating non-educational activities was the easy part, but our boss didn’t tell us what activities were used the year before, so we had to guess. I chose to do three activities; a basketball drill where you have to dribble the ball in a small confined area and have other people try to steal the ball from you (it works on defensive dribbling), balloon volleyball, and a jigsaw puzzle I created.

A week before Halloween EF started to put up Halloween decorations all throughout the building. They really went all out.


A few days before the Halloween party all of the TAs got together to carve pumpkins. It reminded me of the good old days when my family and I would go to Butler’s Orchard (and later on to Giant) to pick pumpkins and then go home and carve them. Since Halloween isn’t really celebrated here, the TAs had no clue what they were doing. The only thing they got right was drawing triangle eyes and a mouth on the pumpkin before they cut it. Most of them did not cut the top off at an angle so when they were done scooping out the seeds the tops fell right into the pumpkins. Also, when they were trying to cut out the eyes, nose, and mouths they were holding the knife with the blade pointed up. I think I am turning into my mother because I got really nervous that they would cut themselves.


The day of the Halloween party everyone was excited, except for me. All of the other teachers had their classes canceled because of the Halloween party. I had to teach a CLT (business language class) for two hours right before hand and I had to commute there and back (in traffic), so when I got back to EF I was exhausted.

The marketing staff gave all the teachers these really tacky costumes of skeletons. It felt really cheesy, but the TAs (who have never really celebrated Halloween themselves) really got into the whole costume thing. Many of them dressed up like witches, one got dressed as a cat. I’m not sure if she knew it, but she looked like a character from the Broadway musical Cats.


We were told that the party was going to work like a round robin; the kids would be shuffled from one room to the next with each stop lasting 20 minutes. I saw the kids starting to gather; there were a lot and they were excited (it was like they were on crack they were so jumpy). There were well over 200 kids who came to the party (which EF charged them to participate). So in each session there were at least 22 kids. I was planning on more like 10-15 kids; I didn’t have enough materials for 22 kids.

The party was about to start when all of a sudden the lights were turned off. I asked what was going on. They said that they wanted to make it scarier, so they turned off the lights. For the first round, I tried doing all three of my activities. The ball dribbling activity turned out to be a total mess because no one was dribbling the ball. They all just held on to the ball. The balloon volleyball wasn’t as bad, but like I said I didn’t prep enough materials so as they were playing I was standing on the side blowing up more balloons. But for every balloon I blew up, I heard one pop. The jigsaw puzzle turned out to be the best activity, except that they were trying to do it in the dark.

Like all great teachers I had to adapt. First I got rid of the dribbling ball activity, and by the end I even got rid of the balloon volleyball. The jigsaw puzzle was the biggest hit and the students stayed quite while they were doing it. I did have to turn on the lights so they could do it though.


All in all it turned out to be a very successful Halloween party. EF made a killing on it, so as a thank you they took us out to a fancy dinner.


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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