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Goosebumps in the Classroom: Now That You Have Their Attention...

The Guinness Book of World Records Millennium Edition lists Goosebumps as the best-selling children's book series of all time. Now you can take advantage of that popularity with this witches brew of Goosebumps-inspired lessons. Start with the following awesome activities, stir in one site of scary jokes, and wait for students to bubble with enthusiasm!

"Why do kids like scary stories so much? Like fictional monsters, many kids sometimes feel like outsiders: different, ugly, out of control, frightened by their angry feelings...."

Those are the words of R. L. Stine, author of the famously frightening Goosebumps books. Stine apparently knows what he's talking about. In just seven years, Goosebumps books have outsold every other children's book series, earning the title Best-Selling Children's Book Series in the Guinness Book of World Records Millennium Edition.

Part of the reason for the success of the Goosebumps series is its ability to lure even the most reluctant readers into its creepy clutches. "As children grow, they like to play with their fear and try to control it. That's why the Goosebumps books and the TV series Are You Afraid of the Dark? are so popular with eight- to ten-year-olds," says Joanne Cantor, author of Mommy, I'm Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect Them.

Parents may worry that the books are too scary, and educators may question their intrinsic literary value, but the more than 200 million copies sold attest to their universal appeal for children.

Often, the first task of an educator is to get the students' attention. Goosebumps has it. Why not use it? Visit Goosebumps on the Web and follow up with one of these out-of-this-world activities.


As they tour the Goosebumps Fun House, your students will bump into an array of creepy characters, allowing you to explore a number of curriculum concepts.

Curly and the Science of Skeletons
Curly, the skeleton, will introduce your students to the Goosebumps 2000 series while you introduce them to The Human Skeleton. After students explore the site, distribute large sheets of butcher paper, arrange students into pairs, and ask them to trace an outline of their partners' bodies. Then have each student draw and label his or her own skeletal system. Students might prefer to label a worksheet of the skeletal system created from a skeleton outline. You might also encourage students to test their knowledge with a Skeletal System Quiz or the Skeletal Quiz.

Original Tales to Give Yourself Goosebumps
The Give Yourself Goosebumps books allow students to make a variety of choices and "write" their own story endings. Arrange students into small groups, and ask each group to write an opening paragraph for a scary story. Then have students pass their stories from group to group until each group has contributed a paragraph to each story. When the stories are complete, invite volunteers to read them aloud.

Goosebumps and Animal Defenses
Encourage students to visit learn about Why We Get Goosebumps. Then ask each student to choose a wild animal and prepare a one-page report on the ways in which that animal reacts when threatened or afraid. Encourage students to choose a variety of animals; then combine the reports into a book titled How Animals Protect Themselves. When the book is complete, encourage students to read it and answer the question Which animals' responses are most like goosebumps?

Performance Magic
Ask students to learn one or more of The Conjuror's Free Magic Tricks and have each student perform one trick for his or her classmates.

Mummies and Other Historic Matters
Invite students to explore the ancient graveyards at Diggin' Up the Facts About Archaeology!, where they'll find the question What Is A Mummy? and discover the answers buried beneath it. After they've explored this site, encourage students to work in small groups to create a picture of their own community, investigating the political, geographic, economic, and social characteristics of their city or town. Have them use the information they find to create a variety of resources, such as a map, a collection of political memorabilia, a photograph album of historic buildings, and so on.

Get a Ghost of a Clue
Distribute a list of Goosebumps books and encourage each student to read one book from the list. (There are more than enough to go around!) Have each student write 20 clues about the book he or she chose and invite students to present their clues to the class. Ask the class to identify each book by matching its set of clues to a title on the list. When all the books have been identified, encourage students to illustrate the covers of the books they read. Display the drawings and related clues on a classroom or hallway bulletinboard.

What Do You Hear in the Field of Screams?
Encourage students to check out the rest of the Hare-Brainers at the Field of Screams. Then invite them to explore the Sound Vault and listen to a variety of scary sounds. Discuss with students the tone, tempo, pitch, and type of instruments used to produce each sound. Ask: What makes the sounds scary?

Laugh It Off
Finally, just to be sure they're "scared silly," invite students to tell some Scary Jokes.


Scary Stories
This site provides a reading list of scary stories from the San Jose Public Library.

Tales of the Supernatural
This lesson plan for students in grades 10 to 12 encourages students to explore the origins and development of the horror genre.

Boning Up On BONES in the Banford Elementary School
This site contains a unit on skeletons created by a student teacher for first-grade students at Banford Elementary School in Canton, N.Y.

Brown Paper Scarecrow
This Kids Club Projects site provides directions for making a paper scarecrow.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Originally published 11/01/1999
Links last updated 09/27/2005