Mystery Genre Study Unit - Read, Write & Think Like a Detective Activities

Rated 4.86 out of 5, based on 111 reviews
111 Ratings
Brenda Kovich
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th, Homeschool
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123 pages
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Brenda Kovich
Includes Google Apps™
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Easel Activities Included
Some resources in this bundle include ready-to-use interactive activities that students can complete on any device.  Easel by TPT is free to use! Learn more.

What educators are saying

Great bundle was able to use it to build my lesson on detectives and historical usage of fingerprints throughout history. Students really enjoyed the lesson material. Thank you.
This was a great activity to use at the end of the school year to keep my students engaged in learning and having fun!

Products in this Bundle (7)

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    Detective Activities Bonus File - Badges, Fingerprints, Invisible Ink
    Also included in
    1. Five weeks of detective-themed ELA activities engage fourth and fifth grade students. The unit includes mystery reading, critical thinking, and writing projects; two novel studies; a simulation; posters and book report templates. A complete 25-day schedule guides instruction. Open the previews to ta
      Price $43.00Original Price $54.50Save $11.50


    Read, write, and think like a detective! Bulk up your mystery genre study with inference activities, short stories, writing projects, secret codes, observation, logic puzzles, fingerprinting, and invisible ink! This unit is guaranteed to engage your third, fourth, or fifth grade students.

    Open the previews to take a closer look at all resources.

    Read Like a Detective

    Eight inference activities and five short detective stories help kids build critical thinking and deduction skills. These literature materials are great additions to any genre study. The passages can also be used as stand-alone reading comprehension activities.

    • Making Inferences - In order to understand mysteries, students must be able to pull subtle clues from the text and make inferences. For example, if a character’s eyes are red and puffy, kids can infer that he has been crying (or has allergies). Three read-aloud situations introduce inferences. Then kids complete five worksheets independently. Each focuses on a specific theme: professions, age groups, relationships, vacation spots, or information about people.
    • Mystery Stories - Five short, simple original stories are included. Reading them helps students use close reading to locate subtle clues (including false clues, or red herrings). They can also act as exemplars for student writing.
    • Book Report - Kids use a template or create a puzzle piece project to explain a mystery story they read.

    Write Like a Detective

    This set of activities was designed to let kids write their own mysteries. Choose from three fun projects: (1) crafty puzzle pictures, (2) choose-your-own-clues paper bag mysteries, or (3) a traditional mapped detective stories. The projects scaffold from simplest to most complex and can be used to differentiate writing in your classroom.

    • Puzzle Pictures - This little activity is more craft than writing. It makes a great classroom display. Kids print or cut pictures of well-known objects, animals, or people. Then they write clues beneath the picture, cut a small viewing area, and staple the paper on top of the picture. Classmates can view a small piece of the picture, read the clues, and guess what it is. They can lift the paper to see if they’re right.
    • Paper Bag Stories - To prepare for this activity, cut and fold three sets of cards: character, setting, and situation. Place each set in a labeled paper bag. Students pick one card from each bag, then develop a mystery around them.
    • Mapped Detective Stories - Kids develop their own clues. First, they read and analyze “The Case of the Missing Cookies” (included). Then they use the planning sheets to organize, develop, and write their own stories.

    Think Like a Detective

    Now add some fun to your unit! This set of activities lets kids explore how a detective thinks - and makes them do a little thinking of their own. Your students will love decoding secret messages, analyzing fingerprints, trying different types of invisible ink, playing observation games, and working logic puzzles.

    • Secret Codes - Students are presented with five different codes. For each, they decipher an encoded message and write their own messages too. (An answer key is provided.)
    • Observation - Try this set of six activities to see how observant your little detectives are.
    • Deductive Reasoning - Let students work on their deductive reasoning skills with a set of five logic puzzles. For an extra challenge, have them make their own puzzle. (It’s easy if they write all checks and exes after they write each clue.)
    • Fingerprints - On the first page, kids learn about fingerprint patterns and try to identify some patterns themselves. The second page gives kids an opportunity to make their own set of fingerprints. You can use an ink pad or pencil lead colored darkly on a paper for this. (These resources are included in the bonus file.)
    • Invisible Ink - Five “recipes” for invisible ink are provided. Try one - or for maximum fun, let students try all of them to determine which works best. (These resources are included in the bonus file.)

    All ELA resources in the unit are available as printable PDFs and shareable Google Slides or Easel Activities.

    Enjoy teaching your mystery genre study in your classroom or homeschool!

    Brenda Kovich

    Would you like to know when I post more lessons? Simply follow me on TPT.

    I'm committed to continual improvement. The entire bundle was updated in May of 2022.

    Total Pages
    123 pages
    Answer Key
    Included with rubric
    Teaching Duration
    1 month
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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
    Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
    Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.


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