Halloween Writing: A Scary Jumble Story

Many teachers are familiar with a jumble story writing activity. There can be several variations to it depending on what the lesson is focused on. In the past, I used this activity to practice certain grammar principles, the use of transitions, the concept writing coherence, organization, and even genres. This activity also helps students exercise their creativity and analytical thinking.

Because Halloween is coming up, and in many parts of the world this day is somehow acknowledged, I thought, “Why don’t we transform a jumble story into a scary jumble story?” The principle stays the same—students pick a random character, a setting, a time period, and a challenge, and with the combination of these random components, they create a story. The only difference between the scary jumble story activity and a “regular” one is the general mood, which obviously needs to be dark, gloomy, frightening, and mysterious.

Below you will see the examples of the story parts, but you are certainly welcome to create your own or even add other components.


Prepare small pieces of paper with the names of the characters, settings, times, and situations. Put them in four piles. Ask students to pick a paper from each pile.


Students will write a scary story using the elements (character, setting, time, and situation/challenge) that they have chosen.


  • The character that they have selected needs to be the main character in their story, but students are welcome to add more characters if they wish.
  • Most of the story needs to take place at the setting and the time that students have chosen, but it doesn’t have to be the only setting or the only time in their story.
  • Similarly, the selected situation or the challenge doesn’t have to happen to the main character, but it may relate to something or someone else in the story.
  • Finally, encourage students to be creative and add their own components to the story to make it more interesting and more logical.

Note: Before the actual writing, you can also have a scaffolding activity, in which students will read a ghost story or a scary Halloween story and discuss as a class the characteristics of this genre.


  • a black cat
  • a skeleton
  • an old witch
  • an ugly spider
  • a mummy
  • a large snake
  • two vampires
  • an angry ghost
  • a zombie
  • a bloody eye


  • a local cemetery
  • a haunted house
  • an abandoned log cabin
  • near a muddy lake
  • a cave
  • a city zoo
  • a Halloween party
  • by a hollow tree
  • in a coffin
  • deep in the forest


  • when the sun went down
  • on Friday 13
  • at midnight
  • on a full moon night
  • after a funeral
  • late at night
  • after a big thunderstorm has passed
  • on a dark and foggy night
  • at Dracula’s wedding
  • during a thunderstorm


  • someone has to die
  • a scary secret needs to be confessed
  • an important decision needs to be made
  • a death has occurred
  • someone has turned into someone else
  • something terrifying has just happened
  • something unpleasant has been found
  • someone needs to lose something
  • someone’s life needs to change
  • someone needs to become evil

What fun Halloween writing activities do you use with your students?

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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One Response to Halloween Writing: A Scary Jumble Story

  1. Walton says:

    Looks like a fun idea. I have a genre-based lesson plan that has students analyze the elements of a scary story that might fit with your activity: http://www.englishadvantage.info/lesson/write-your-own-scary-story/

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