Add some writing to your mystery unit (or some mystery to your narrative writing unit)! Choose from three fun projects: (1) a crafty mystery picture activity, (2) a choose-your-own-clues paper bag mystery, or (3) a traditional mapped mystery.
The projects are sequenced from simplest to most complex. If you want shorter bursts of fun writing, choose mystery pictures or paper bag mysteries. To really develop writing skills, select the mapped mystery. For differentiation, you can assign mystery writing activities based on readiness. Or, if you’re like me, have all students do all three!
- 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. They cut a small hole in a piece of construction paper and staple the it on top of the picture. Classmates study a small piece of the picture through the hole, read the clues, and guess what it is. Then they lift the construction paper to see if they’re right.
Paper Bag Mysteries
- 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 story around them.
- Kids develop their own mysteries. First, they read and analyze “The Case of the Missing Cookies” (included). Then they take these steps to organize, develop, and write their own mystery stories:
• Choose a mystery/crime.
• Explore setting.
• Develop characters - including suspects with motive and opportunity.
• Map the mystery with at least three clues and one red herring.
• Experiment with beginnings and endings; choose a pair.
• Edit with a peer.
• Mystery Pictures - directions
• Paper Bag Mysteries – directions; setting, character, situation, and blank cards; labels for paper bags, two sets of student planning sheets (with and without red herring); rubric
• Mapped Mysteries – directions, sample story, sheet for mapping story + answers, planning sheets (choosing the crime, developing setting, developing characters, developing plot, mapping, beginnings and endings), and rubrics
• Two different sheets of detective themed writing stationery (footprints and little detective)
Click PREVIEW for some sample pages.
In my classroom, this is the culminating piece of our mystery unit. Would you like more? Check out these mystery unit components:
• Think Like a Detective
- Kids love this set of secret clues, observation games, fingerprints, logic puzzles, and invisible ink. It's the perfect compliment to your mystery unit.
• The Maze of Bones
- Discussion questions, a detective's journal, and character cards let your little detectives dive into this popular mystery book (fourth grade reading level).
• The Westing Game
- Discussion questions, a detectives journal, character cards and sheets, and additional support material help your students unravel this complex mystery novel (fifth grade reading level).
Watch for more mystery products coming soon! Follow me to be notified when they’re posted.