My colleague Phillip Taylor teaches our Intermediate English Language Learner class.

He had students write short scary Halloween stories, and shared what he did with me.  He had students co-write a story with him while teaching these elements:

1st paragraph:

Create suspense – describe a scary place/scary situation. Perhaps introduce a mysterious threat

2nd paragraph:

The mysterious threat becomes certain. It doesn’t kill the protagonist (yet). It comes close. The protagonist may have the illusion of getting away.

3rd paragraph:

The protagonist is killed/dies/goes insane/becomes the monster – experiences the horrible end (this is a horror story – no happy endings!). Explain how.


– Don’t “define” the threat. Leave the monster or horrible thing mysterious. Don’t explain what it is. We don’t fully know, and we never fully know. Makes it more scary

– Try to use good descriptions to put your audience there.


Here’s the story he co-wrote with the class (descriptions in italics create suspense and dread):

The Scariest Monster

I was walking down the street one night. It was dark, but there was a full moon, so there was a little light.  I felt the light of the moon that night, almost like the sun.  Its light felt warm and comforting, even though the street was creepy, and it was a bad neighborhoodI felt like someone was watching me, but when I looked behind me and around me, it looked like the streets were empty and quiet.  

Suddenly, I heard a low growling sound, like a dog, and I froze.  I didn’t know where the animal was, but it sounded like it was right behind me.  I slowly turned around, and looked for the source of the growling, but I didn’t see a dog or any animal. just some run down houses and cars and garbage in the street.  There were some shadows between houses and cars, so maybe the dog was hiding there, but the growling sounded closer than the shadows.  I started to back away.  I didn’t hear anything, so I turned back and started walking away.  That’s when I heard the growling again, almost in my ear.  

I turned around quickly and again, didn’t see anything.  If the creature was as close as it sounded, I should be able to see it easily, since I was in the middle of the street!  I started walking away more quickly, and the growling became louder.  I ran.  I heard and felt it chasing me, I didn’t know where it was coming from, but I could feel its breath on me, almost like its teeth were on my throat.  Then nothing.  Black.  

I woke up in my bed that morning.  Was it a dream?  I got up, and realized I was covered in blood.  I had a disgusting taste in my mouth, like copper, and when I went to the sink to wash it out, I realized it was filled with blood!  What had happened last night?  It wasn’t a dream!  I had become the monster I tried to run from.  I was a werewolf! 


It’s obviously not a detailed lesson plan, but it does provide some ideas if you want to try it out.

I’m also intrigued by something that Mrs. Bond did and mentioned on Twitter- Six Word Spooky Stories.

I’m adding this info to The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween.