Mystery Book Clubs Online Resources

Mystery Book Clubs

As I was preparing for my Mystery Book Clubs Unit of Study, I was searching for resources that I could use in my classroom. There is so much available, most of it free, but great things! So I thought if I could put together a post about links of useful resources of this topic it would be so helpful. So here it is.

Mystery Book Clubs Printalbles

Scholastic-Exploring the Mystery Genre at Scholastic

Scholastic- Investigating the Mystery Genre

What is a Mystery?

Character Traits


Mystery Book Club- Pinterest


Mystery Book Clubs

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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.suspect1

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.

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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. FingerprintRidgePatternsAndCharacteristics mystery book clubs


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:

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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.

Videos- Mystery

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.

Scratch Off Drawings

Scratch Off Drawings

In college, I had to take an art class in which I was given a list of art activities that could be made by children in my class. I had to make them in my dorm room, so I can testify that they are easy enough. One of my favorites is the scratch off drawing. Since I made the one in my dorm room, the World Wide Web has allowed me to find different versions. I will try to post as many versions as I can.

Version 1- Scratch Off Drawings- Etchings

The most simple version is just using crayons. On either white or manila construction paper, have the children color the whole paper. I make smaller squares because the children don’t usually have that much stamina to do a whole sheet. They need to color dark.

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After they complete that stage, they need to color over the whole sheet with black crayon. It needs to be even darker than the colors underneath.

Once the sheet has been colored over with black crayon, the children can begin scratching off the black crayon in any design they want. I suggest they use the tip of their scissors opened. It should be a sharp tool. Have them experiment with different tools- nails, finger nail files, popsicle sticks, pencils, pens, etc.

scratch off drawing- crayon

Scratch Off Drawing Using Crayons


Version 2- Crayons and Paint

This version only changes after the colored crayons have been completed.

Instead of using black crayons black tempera paint is used as the over coat. This is a little messier than the crayons. Make sure the children cover their clothes because I am not sure if the paint will come out in the wash.

Just paint over the crayons and allow to dry before scratching off.

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Scratch Off Paint using Tempera Paint

Version 3- Crayons and Paint Mixture

Instead of using tempera paint, acrylic paint is used along with dish detergent.

Equal amounts of acrylic paint and dish detergent mixed in shallow bowls is painted over the colored crayon drawings. This mixture is similar to the scratch off lottery tickets. You can use any color, even silver or gold.

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Scratch Off Drawings Using Acrylic Paint

Version 4- Pre-Made Scratch Off Paper

You can also purchase sheets of scratch off paper. All of the mess is done for you. Just scratch off and it’s ready to go.

The colors underneath are usually brighter. These papers can be found in arts and crafts stores.

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Have fun!


Lanyard Bookmarks

Lanyard Bookmarks

There are several times in a school year that allows children to create something for ones they love. The winter season holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and others. I know there just isn’t much time to spend on non-curricular activities. So, it is imperative that the time we spend on crafts in the classroom is minimal, the crafts are easy enough to complete quickly, or can possibly be taken home to finish. Also, the cost is not prohibitive. I know I still need to pay my mortgage each month.

These bookmarks are very easy, and have used them while I was teaching first, second, and third grades. It doesn’t matter how careful the children are making sure the lanyard lays flat. Parents usually are not bothered by the details. They love the projects because they are made by their child, and it is a useful gift.

Materials Needed for Lanyard Bookmarks

  • Plastic Canvas (This is the plastic canvas many crafters use for needle point boxes, projects, ornaments, etc.) 3-Colors-1-Lot-3Pcs-7CT-7-Count-Plastic-Canvas-Grid-90-70 for lanyard bookmarksThe canvas comes in many different colors, but I have found that clear works the best. You can see the colors of the lanyard. It comes in many sizes, so pick the size that will work for you. I usually use the largest, because it is cheaper. I will then cut it to the size I want.
  • Plastic lanyard, also called gimp (comes in many colors)

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The plastic canvas and plastic lanyard can both be found in any arts and crafts stores.

How to Make the Lanyard Bookmarks

  1. Cut the plastic canvas to the size you want. I make them, please excuse my non-exactness, but, 12 squares across. 12 is easily divided by however many colors the children choose. Yes, I allow the children to choose their colors! The length is whatever you want. Make sure when you cut the canvas you cut closely to the edges so there are not any jaggedy edges.
  2. Cut the lanyard longer than the canvas. I like to have fringes on both sides of the lanyard bookmarks. The children may want to make a pattern with the colors. I usually allow them to have up to 4 colors.
  3. To begin the weave, string one lanyard strip down the first hole on the edge of the canvas. I hold this with my thumb to make sure it is not pulled through. You could possibly tie the end, but it is difficult for it to stay tied. Trying to keep the lanyard flat, bring the end up through the next hole of the canvas.
  4. Continue going up and down all the way to the end.
  5. The next lanyard string, go up from the back of the first hole of the canvas. Alternating the beginning allows for a different pattern. It does not have to be alternated. The pattern can also be made by alternating the colors of the lanyard strings.
  6. One thing you want to make sure is to try to keep the lanyard flat. It tends to twist as it is pulled through the holes. If you get a twist, the only way to flatten it is to take it back out of the hole, and gently pull the lanyard, guiding it through slowly, making sure it stays flat. Some may want to make a pattern with twists.
  7. Once all of the lanyards are woven in the canvas, there are fringes at both ends. You could put beads on the ends, but I usually don’t. It is a bookmark that needs to be flat. I usually just cut off the excess at however long I want it. The children can do the (9)

These lanyard bookmarks make great gifts. I love that the children are developing small motor skills as they craft. I am not sure how many parents receive these as gifts. I assume the kids keep them! They love doing them.

Some tips

  • I give the children plastic sandwich bags to keep the lanyards contained. It is so easy to loose them.
  • Tell the children to only use one lanyard at a time and keep the rest in the bag.
  • Allow the children to take home whatever they don’t finish in class.
  • You may want to have the children wrap the lanyard bookmarks. They could use construction paper in which they decorate. Tissue paper is good, too.
  • Use straightened out paper clips to help them unweave the lanyard if there are twists.

Good luck and have fun!

Share any successes or other easy craft projects.

jbfsaleblog Although I have been making the lanyard bookmarks for about 20 years, this link is to another blog that I used the picture above.