Mystery Book Clubs
One of the Units of Study in the third grade Readers’ Workshop is Mystery Book Clubs. Of course, I added a few “extras” to the the unit. I just can’t contain myself! I really like to gets the children motivated and excited about what we do in the classroom. I know with the information included in the units of study they will have great instruction and will deepen their knowledge about the mystery genre. I also want to get the children involved in their learning.
I know the children watch many television mystery shows. Some of the ones they watch, I don’t usually watch because they are scary. But, they at least are familiar with the genre. I found this Crime Scene tape that I used the day I introduced the unit. I taped it across the top of my door, so everyone could still walk in. I then staged a crime scene. I knocked over desks, put eaten food wrappers on the floor, hid a significant object, etc. I then gave the children time to observe what they see. They will then need to infer how many people were involved in the crime, what the crime was, and who they think committed the crime. I had them do a written response in their reading notebooks where they needed to show the evidence and proof of the crime. They needed to show their thinking of the crime.
I also made a Top Secret folder for the children to keep all of the handouts for our mystery unit. I found quite a few printables from Scholastic that were easy to download and were free!! I just printed the Top Secret page and had the children glue it to the front of the folder. I included a page on Mystery Vocabulary, fingerprints, graphic organizer for mysteries, mystery reading log, and a bookmark. As I presented the unit of study to the children we would refer back to these pages.
One of the most popular activities was to fingerprint themselves. Without going to the Crime Scene Investigative Store and spending lots of money, there is an easier way to show fingerprints that is way less expensive. All you need is paper, pencils, and transparent tape.
1. Have the children scribble on a small area on paper with their pencils. They will then rub the pad of the finger tip on this area. The finger will become quite black.
2. Take a piece of transparent tape and place the blackened finger tip on the sticky side. Stick the tape onto the fingerprint page for each finger. They will then have an image of their fingerprint to see. This kind of mirrors how they find fingerprints at crime scenes.
3. Compare their fingerprints with the finger print analysis page to see what kind of patterns they have.
Mystery Book Club Series
There are many mystery genre series that the children can read and participate in book clubs, or literature circles. Some of the series are:
There are more, which is such a great thing. When I was little, all I knew were The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew! We have come a long way, baby!
In my district, we use Lexile Levels for the children to choose books. If you can get several copies of the same title, that would be great. If not, get several books in the same series for the mystery book clubs. There are a whole lot of ways to run the book clubs, so you can do some research on the way that works for you.
YouTube has some old mystery shows that you can watch with the children so those children that have never seen a mystery can see one. We actually watched a Hardy Boys episode from the old TV show with Sean Cassidy. It was great! I had them use their “Detective Notebook” and they wrote down clues they found as they were revealed. I stopped it in the middle to have them make a prediction of who they think the suspect is. At the end we talked about the clues they found, evidence in the show, and how they came to the conclusion of their suspect.