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Scary Feelings

Halloween is on 31 October

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to develop a strategy for facing the fears that we encounter each day.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1. Let’s start with a word association game. It’s about pairs. I’ll say a word and I want you to give me the word that pairs with the one I’ve just said. Don’t be put off if someone else says a word before you do. It may be that your suggestion is just as good or even better than theirs!

    Let’s go:

    - strawberries (cream)
    - bride (groom)
    - Ant (Dec)
    - burger (fries, ketchup or King)
    - salt (pepper or vinegar)
    - William (Kate)
    - Halloween (?)

  2. Doesn’t anyone know a word that pairs with Halloween? If I’d said, ‘Christmas Eve’, someone would probably have answered ‘Christmas Day’. The two go together in our minds.

  3. The word ‘Halloween’ derives from the old-fashioned way of saying ‘the eve of All Hallows’ Day’. Another name for ‘All Hallows’ Day’ is ‘All Saints’ Day’, and Halloween occurs the day before it. Just as Christmas Day is considered to be more important than Christmas Eve, it is actually the day after Halloween that, for centuries, was considered more important.

  4. So, what is Halloween all about?

    Encourage the students to come up with a list of suggestions before allowing time for discussion. Student contributions will probably concern trick-or-treating, dressing up, ghosts, witches and so on.

Time for reflection

As we have discussed, different people regard Halloween in different ways. Some see it as good fun, some enjoy the scariness. Others may consider that encouraging an interest in ghosts, witches and other similar things is a bad thing that causes nightmares and fear.

All Saints’ Day is about entirely the opposite of Halloween. Traditionally, it is a Christian festival to celebrate people known as saints who have lived lives close to God that have helped others. Today, All Saints’ Day is sometimes used to celebrate all the people who have been good to us in the previous year. It may be family, particularly those who have recently died. It may be friends who have supported us, encouraged us and helped us to overcome our problems. It may simply be a random stranger who showed us kindness. All Saints’ Day is about hope, certainty, light and faith. That’s how it’s treated in the Christian Church.

Ask the students, ‘What do you fear?’

Some of us have fears about places, others about the unknown. Some of us fear failure, others fear people who try to control us. Some of us fear the future, whereas others fear the consequences of something that they did in the past. There are many kinds of fear. Most of us keep our fears well hidden, but they still lurk in our subconscious. Let’s try a technique for handling our fears.

  1. Place your hands palms upwards on your knees and close your eyes.
  2. Imagine that you can place today’s fear in your open palm. Hold it there for an honest moment.
  3. Turn your palms downwards and let the fear drop out of your life.
  4. Turn your palms upwards again and place in them something good you would like to happen today.
  5. Close your palms to keep the good there for the rest of the day.
  6. Open your eyes.


Optional: ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson

Extension activities

  1. Use the palms up/palms down exercise whenever you feel panic, anxiety or fear. You don’t even need to close your eyes.
Publication date: November 2020   (Vol.22 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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