About a month and a half ago, the teachers were told to start thinking of activities for a Halloween party. Halloween is not really a big deal here in China, but since it is in America we were going to throw a Halloween party for EF.

The only guidelines we received about the Halloween party activities were that we we had to create an activity (or multiple activities) to last for 20 minutes. 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, 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 TA’s got together to carve pumpkins. It brought back fond memories of 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. As I mentioned before, Halloween isn’t really celebrated here so the TA’s didn’t have the pumpkin carving technique that is honed over years. While they did draw triangle eyes and a scary mouth on the pumpkin before they cut it, they did not know to cut the top of the pumpkin an angle. So when they were done scooping out the seeds and they went to place the tops back on, they fell right into the pumpkins. Also, they were holding the knife with the blade pointed up. I felt like I was 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 beforehand and had to commute there and back in the middle of traffic, so when I got back to EF I was exhausted.

The marketing staff gave all the teachers these really tacky costumes of skeletons. They felt really cheesy to wear, but the TA’s 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 of them and they were excited. There were well over 200 kids who came to the party (which EF actually charged them an additional fee to participate), which turned out to being about 20-25 kids per session. I had only planned on having 10-15 kids per session; I didn’t have enough materials for 22 kids, but it was too late to do anything about it.

As the party was about to start all 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 which ruined all my activities as you needed to be able to see what you were doing.

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 actually 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.


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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