Number one for English language teachers

Webquest: Halloween

This spooky webquest includes activities on popular Halloween traditions, global celebrations and terrifying tales.

Halloween banner 2014


What do you know about Halloween?

Activity 1: Halloween’s history

Visit and read the different sections. Look for the answers to these 13 (unlucky for some) questions. Share your answers with your classmates.

  1. What was the name of the celebration that started 2,000 years ago and on which Halloween is based?
  2. What did people light to honour the dead?
  3. What was the name of the Roman celebration that was held in October?
  4. What was the purpose of this Roman festival?
  5. ’All Souls’ Day’ came from which religion?
  6. What was the name of the celebration that took place on 1 November?
  7. Which English tradition was similar to trick-or-treating?
  8. What two things did people in Old England and Ireland do to please the spirits?
  9. In which part of America did the first Halloween-like celebrations take place?
  10. What were fall festivals originally known as in America?
  11. When did Halloween start to become popular in America?
  12. By the end of the 1800s, what were the main features of Halloween parties in America?
  13. When did trick-or-treating become popular in America?


  • Are you surprised by the history of Halloween?
  • Do you know any other stories about its origins?
  • Are there any celebrations in your country that have a strange and uncertain history?
  • Do you agree with this type of celebration?
  • Do you believe in ghosts and the supernatural?


Go to Look for the answers to the following questions. Share your answers with your classmates.

  1. The jack-o’-lantern tradition originated from which Irish myth?  What happened when Jack invited the Devil for a drink with him?
  2. What did Jack do with the coin instead? Why?
  3. Under what condition did Jack free the devil?
  4. What trick did Jack play the following year, and how did he prevent the devil coming down from the tree?
  5. What happened next?
  6. What problem did Jack then face?
  7. What did the Irish call Jack’s ghost?
  8. What did people in the British Isles use to make their own lanterns and why?
  9. What did the vegetable become in America?


Read the first paragraph of this website link about the rules of apple-bobbing: Answer the following questions and share your answers with a partner.

  1. How do you set up the game?
  2. Why are apples used?
  3. What do players use to catch the apples?
  4. Which part of their body are they prevented from using?


Read the first two paragraphs of this website link about the tradition of ’trick-or-treating’ – – and answer the following questions, sharing your answers with a partner.

  1. What do children ask for when they travel from house to house? 
  2. What do children say when they arrive at a house?
  3. What is usually the ’trick’?
  4. Since when has this tradition been practised in North America?
  5. What do homeowners who wish to participate usually do to their houses?
  6. Since when have people in Britain and Ireland practised the tradition of asking for food at Halloween?
  7. What else have they been doing since then?
  8. Trick-or-treating has become prevalent in countries outside of America - what do the children ask for in Mexico?


  • Have you ever practised any of these traditions? If so, which is your favourite? If not, which do you think sounds the most fun?
  • Have you ever seen a real carved-out jack-o’-lantern? Have you ever designed one yourself? Would you like to make one with your classmates?
  • Would you like to have an apple-bobbing competition with your classmates? Who do you think would win?
  • Would you be interested in going trick-or-treating? If yes, what costume would you wear? What trick would you play?
  • If you had some children knocking on your door, would you opt for giving them a treat or accept the trick?
  • How do you think people from your country would respond to trick-or-treaters?

Activity 3: Halloween around the world

Although Halloween is often seen as a predominantly American celebration, you’ll be surprised to know that many countries around the world also celebrate Halloween. Many have their own unique traditions.

a. Tell your classmates if and how your country celebrates Halloween.

b. Your teacher will give you a country to research from this website link: Before you begin your research, consider the following questions:

  1. How long has your chosen country been celebrating Halloween?
  2. What unique traditions does it have?
  3. What costumes do people dress up in?
  4. Why has Halloween become popular there?

Note: You may not find information on all these questions, but as you read, write down any other interesting facts you discover about your chosen country to share with your classmates. Write your answers in note form, and share your findings with your classmates.

Activity 4: Terrifying tales

Go to the following website, and read the story: Answer the following 13 (unlucky for some) questions below.

  1. What was the woman digging up to cook for dinner?
  2. What did she uncover?
  3. Why did she put the thing that she found in her basket?
  4. What did she cook with it?
  5. Later that night, what did the voice coming from the woods say?
  6. Was the voice heard in the same place or was it getting closer?
  7. Where was the voice coming from when the old lady woke up?
  8. What did she do when she jumped out of bed?
  9. Where was the old lady when she saw the massive figure in her doorway?
  10. How did the old lady respond to the figure?
  11. What finally happened to the old lady?
  12. What was the only clue to what happened?
  13. What was distinct about the footprint?

Visit the following weblink, and choose a story that interests you:

Read it, and make notes in your own language. You may need to use a dictionary or ask your teacher for help with the vocabulary. Once you’ve completed your notes, share the story with your classmates. Did you manage to scare them with your tale?

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Thanks for the links to historic origins. I love the Jack-o-lantern story!! I teach adult so the toe story just wasn't scary enough.

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  • Hello,

    Thank you very much for your comment. We are really pleased you like this resource and it has succeeded in being spooky enough for your adult learners.

    Happy Halloween!

    The onestopenglish team

  • Hi Cintia,

    Glad to hear you think it will be engaging for your teen student!

    The first link should take you to a web page with a section called 'Ancient origins of Halloween' You have to scroll down a little but that's where the answers are the to first section.

    Does that help?

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  • Hi! This is very interesting! Thanks a lot!!
    I hope it gets my teenage student going for an hour, cause it's usually hard to get him to talk.
    I tried to access the first link though, and couldn't find the text with the history of Halloween.
    Could you guys help me?
    Has anyone had the same problem?

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  • Thank you Christine, that's very kind :-)

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  • Very interesting indeed and very complete. Thanks

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  • wonderful!
    Thx much for your prompt deeds!

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  • Thanks Claire, we're glad you like it!

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  • I'm so glad you included The Hairy Toe in this. It's our favourite scary story to read at home. We use a children's version illustrated by Daniel Postgate which is full of onomatopoeia to enhance the scary sound effects.

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  • Sorry for the delay. Due to a technical glitch we've only just been able to amend this.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Hi Chris,

    You are absolutely right! It should have been something like territories!
    Thankfully you've corrected that little mistake!

    Best wishes


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