Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Distractions: Infographics as Literacy

Source: ANidea
As teachers, we know that Halloween is a distraction for most students, young and old, so why not turn it into a lesson using visualizations? Heck, they already have prior knowledge about the topic, even though they may not know all the facts represented in the infographics seen here. What better way to teach to their interests than to keep them glued to the blood and guts of the holiday? It is not unlike the post we did on S'Mores and other sweets that focused on candy as a universal theme to engage students. These graphics, though, have images and data about costumes, candy, pumpkins, treat-or-treating and more.

Take a look at Halloween Trends: 2011 from ANidea to find out the percentage of people attending parties or dressing up their pets. Have students locate the number of people who plan to carve pumpkins or how many billions of pounds of pumpkins are produced each year in the United States. Better yet, engage them in a little math with the number of trick-or-treaters their age or percentage of the total population.
Source: History.com
Want them to sink their teeth in a little more? Try using the infographic Halloween by the Numbers designed by History.com and Column Five or Halloween by the Numbers from Credit Donkey. Each of these provides a host of data related to the holiday rituals.
Source: Webtrends

Source: Bit Rebel
Spooky Stats Halloween Buzz from Webtrends is one more to add to the mix. Check out the hottest Halloween costumes of 2011. It looks like the Zombies have it in the classic category by 35%. Have students analyze the information in these infographics to determine and compare the differences in reporting the data. This can lead to a good discussion on checking sources and looking for conflicting information. These visualizations can lead to broader discussions about the financial and media impact on the consumer.

If you want to add a little geography and folklore to your Halloween lesson, check out Ghost-Proof Your House: 11 Ways the Superstitious Keep Evil Spirits at Bay by Colin Dobrin. This neat little infographic contains tidbits about superstitions, from not having the number of stairs divisible by three in the Philippines to building a tall spire in the northwest corner of your property in Japan to fight off evil spirits. For the older students and the not-so-sweet side of Halloween, take a look at The Darker Sides of Halloween from Bit Rebels. This infographic contains some pointed facts and numbers on Halloween crimes, pokes fun at holiday paranoia, and describes bank robbers in costume.

If nothing else, on Halloween when their attention is on candy, costumes, and getting out of school to trick-or-treat, infographics such as the ones seen here can keep them engaged in the classroom. More importantly, they provide a fun way to give students practice at analyzing visualizations to increase their skills in graphicacy, to learn a little economics, and to understand the hype behind Halloween.

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