8 TED-Ed lessons for Halloween

Even the most reluctant learners will focus on Halloween lessons from TED-Ed

Fun topics keep students engaged in learning, and what better way to pull students in than framing a lesson around Halloween?

From vampires and ghost ships to bats and pumpkin facts, it’s easy to craft lessons for students in all grades. Elementary school students can learn about famous ghost stories and share their own spooky stories, and older students can learn about some of the real-life historical events and rumors behind some of today’s most loved scary tales.

If you’re new to TED-Ed Lessons, you’ve just stumbled onto a great resource. Educators can build lessons around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk, or YouTube video through Ted-Ed. Once you locate the video you wish to use, use the TED-Ed Lessons editor to add questions, discussion prompts, and additional resources.

1. Why is being scared so fun? At this very moment, people are lining up somewhere to scare themselves, be it with a thrill-ride or a horror movie. In fact, in October of 2015 alone, about 28 million people visited a haunted house in the U.S. But you might wonder: What could possibly be fun about being scared? Margee Kerr examines the biology and psychology behind what makes fear so fun. 

2. Are ghost ships real? In 1884, the British steamer “Rumney” crashed into the French ship “Frigorifique.” Seeing their ship filling with water, the French crew climbed aboard the “Rumney.” But as they sailed towards port, a silent form emerged from the fog–the abandoned “Frigorifique,” seemingly back for revenge. So what happened? Peter B. Campbell investigates the fascinating phenomenon of ghost ships.

3. How did Dracula become the world’s most famous vampire? Over a hundred years after his creator was laid to rest, Dracula lives on as the most famous vampire in history. But this Transylvanian noble–neither the first fictional vampire, nor the most popular of his time–may have remained buried in obscurity if not for a twist of fate. Stanley Stepanic explains how a critical copyright battle catapulted Bram Stoker’s character into literary renown.

4. Pumpkin facts: Pumpkin season has officially begun! Skunk Bear teaches us some fun facts about America’s favorite decorative gourd.

5. Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact: The myth of the bloodsucking vampire has stalked humans from ancient Mesopotamia to 18th-century Eastern Europe, but it has differed in the terrifying details. So, how did we arrive at the popular image we know, love and fear today? And what truly makes a vampire…a vampire? Michael Molina digs up the science and the superstition.

6. What is echolocation? Are bats really blind? Not exactly. Besides their eyes, bats use a special process called echolocation to navigate their environment. SciToons explains how bats “see” the world around them as they look for prey in the dark.

7. The Egyptian Book of the Dead: A guidebook for the underworld: Ancient Egyptians believed that in order to become immortal after death, a spirit must first pass through the underworld–a realm of vast caverns, lakes of fire, and magical gates. Needless to say, one needed to come prepared. But how? Tejal Gala describes an Egyptian “Book of the Dead”–a customized magic scroll written by the living to promote a smooth passage to the afterlife when they died.

8. Zombies: 5 TED-Ed Lessons that animate the walking dead: Zombies eat brains. They also feed brains–when they star in educational videos like ours, that is. Ready to reanimate your love of math, science and mayhem? Watch 5 TED-Ed Lessons with zombies.

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