What better way to celebrate Halloween AND the end of a writing and reading unit on mystery than with a mystery festival?? On Friday I was thrilled to work with Ms. Senning's class to solve a mystery that involved true detective work by students, strong critical thinking skills, attention to detail, scientific observation, collaboration and problem solving! After studying the genre of mysteries in their classroom for many weeks, students were excited to put their skills to work and solve the mystery of "Who Borrowed Mr. Bear" (this activity was taken from an LHS GEMS book called Mystery Festival by Beals and Willard: http://lhsgems.org/GEM350.html).
First students were put on teams and challenged to observe a crime scene. With no preliminary information, students had to assume that everything could be a clue to solve the mystery. Some students drew intricate maps and took detailed notes, while other teams discussed each clue and pondered what it could mean. After twenty minutes at the crime scene, we went back to the classroom. Here we heard some details of the story and created a clue board. We also had a chance to use our science skills to examine data more closely. Students did a great job working together and really thinking about what might have happened. After much deliberation, every student had a chance to choose the suspect they thought was responsible. Next, the true story was revealed!
Mysteries are such a great way to encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills. I hope that they will remember this activity in the future when they are writing and reading more mysteries!
I am thankful to Ms. Senning for collaborating with me on this special project. I am also grateful to Mrs. Ankerson, Mrs. Redford and Mr. Langevin who provided coverage of other classes so that I could work on this project. I am lucky to be part of a school in which staff members value student experiences and are flexible in order to support these sorts of activities.
Looking for more mysteries to solve?
I enjoy the site: http://kids.mysterynet.com/ for quick student challenges!