Years ago I decided that holiday related art was not the way to go. Someone always gets offended and I was constantly worried about hurting a child's feelings or worse the dreaded phone call from a parent because they did not celebrate or recognize that particular holiday. This year, one of the gym teachers asked what I did during this time of year. They are doing a "ghost hunt" game and a few kids were not going to participate. I told her to send the sweeties my way, I would take them! She was surprised that I did not do a Halloween activity. I told her there were ways to make everyone happy and comfortable. For example, I haven't done jack-o-lantern pictures in years. Instead I find fun ways to do pumpkin pictures. Pumpkins are a seasonal vegetable. I talk about the pumpkin life cycle. Seed to plant to pumpkin. This also applies to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I teach kindergartners how to draw steam engines like in the Polar Express or Thomas the Tank. I think she was surprised there were alternatives to holidays in art class.
Other non-Halloween lessons that don't offend: Bones in the body and the connection to Dia de los Muertos in Mexico (we have several Hispanic children) and this is a cultural tie in not a holiday observance, Space Aliens with 3rd graders as a conclusion to the Outer Space Unit which I do to integrate science (no aliens in the serious project). This is what works for me, anyone else have similar lessons or projects that avoid holidays altogether?