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The Maze of Bones Mystery Novel Study Unit (The 39 Clues)

Grade Levels
3rd - 5th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
  • Google Apps™
  • Compatible with 
36 pages
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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; and book report templates. A complete 25-day schedule guides instruction. To support classroom and distan
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Let your little detectives uncover the clues in The Maze of Bones. The journal, discussion guide, and character cards will help kids crack the case (and improve comprehension!) Hook them on Book 1 of The 39 Clues series - and soon they’ll be reading all eleven books!

Now, to support both classroom and distance learning, resources are available as printable PDFs or editable Google Slides.

What’s Included:

  • Detective's Journal – Kids take notes and make observations in this 24-page foldable booklet (or 12-page digital booklet) – just like a real detective. Additional pages guide them through the book two chapters at a time. [Teacher/Parent Directions: Print the booklet back-to-back on six sheets of paper; fold.]

  • Discussion Guide - Whether you discuss in small groups, as a class, or at home, these questions and vocabulary words help students understand details of the text. [10 pages – one for every two chapters]

  • Character Cards (printable only) - Let your kids create their own character trading cards! Each of the twenty cards has space for a drawing and character information.

  • BONUS: Invisible Ink Activity – In the novel, Amy and Dan use a black light to read a secret message from Ben Franklin. Now your students can try some invisible ink of their own. Three simple “recipes” are included.

Would you like to add more activities? Try Think Like a Detective! It features secret codes, fingerprints, observation, and deductive reasoning.

Note to Teachers and Parents:

By nature, mysteries have many characters and complex plots. This requires concentration and close attention to detail. Students in my classroom love them but sometimes struggle to keep track of those details. I’ve found that taking notes in a journal, discussing with targeted questions, and creating character posters or cards really helps.

Mystery books have the power to boost kids’ critical thinking and close reading skills. Reading The Maze of Bones in class or at home is a great choice! Once they read the first book in The 39 Clues series, they’ll soon be sailing through the other ten books in the series.

In my classroom, I pair this novel study with The Westing Game. It's an intricate book, full of twists and turns, which gives advanced learners a greater challenge. [Note: Due to its difficulty, I do not recommend using this book before second semester of fourth grade.]


Brenda Kovich, NBCT

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I'm committed to continual improvement. This resource was updated on April 20, 2020.

Total Pages
36 pages
Answer Key
Not Included
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).


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