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Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Parent & Afterschool Resources

ReadWriteThink has a variety of resources for out-of-school use. Visit our Parent & Afterschool Resources section to learn more.

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Activity

Make a Mystery Puzzle

 

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Make a Mystery Puzzle

Grades 5 – 8
Activity Time 30 to 45 minutes (plus additional time to write a mystery story)
Publisher International Reading Association
 

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try

Glossary

 

What You Need

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Here's What To Do

Before beginning this activity, have the child you are working with choose and read a mystery story. For suggestions on age-appropriate mystery stories, check with your local librarian. The Scary Stories Booklist also provides some possible titles. Have the child list the book on the Reading Record chart.

Print a copy of the Mystery Puzzle Instruction Sheet, the Mystery Cube Planning Sheet, and the Mystery Elements sheet, which lists the different elements and the structure of a mystery.

Making a Mystery Puzzle

1. Have the child talk about the mystery book and why he or she liked it, without revealing the solution to you.

2.

Ask the child what some of the parts of a mystery are. Work together to make a list that includes the following:

  • Setting
  • Detective or person who is working to solve the mystery
  • Crime or mystery
  • Victim or person who suffers from the crime
  • Clues
  • Solution
3. Ask the child to fill in the Mystery Cube Planning Sheet using the mystery he or she has read. (Don’t look at the solution.)

4. While the child is working, take a large piece of poster board and draw seven puzzle pieces on it. Number the pieces from 1 to 7.

5. Using the Mystery Puzzle Instruction Sheet, ask the child to fill in the things he or she just wrote on the planning sheet on the puzzle pieces. The child can also draw pictures that illustrate the things he or she is writing. (The pictures can overlap the pieces so that when the puzzle is cut up, the pictures are too.) Have the child write the solution on the back of the piece of poster board and draw a picture there as well—no peeking!

6. Cut the pieces out, and ask the child to mix them up, making sure while doing so that the solution side is down. Put the puzzle together. When it is complete, see if you can guess what the solution is. Flip the puzzle over to see if you are right.

Writing a Mystery Story (You can complete this part of the activity at a different time.)

7. Visit the online Mystery Cube tool together and use it to help the child plan a mystery story. Use characters and the setting from the mystery story read or make them up. Once all of the sides are filled in, print the sheet and cut and fold to form a cube (see sample).

8. Have the child use the information to write a mystery story. Before writing, try exploring Mystery Writing With Joan Lowery Nixon together for tips and strategies for writing a suspenseful mystery.

9. The child can read the mystery story he or she wrote to you, pausing before the end to see if you can guess the solution.

Visit the Mystery Cube page for more information about this tool.

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More Ideas To Try

Have a mystery meeting of the child’s book club. Each child in the group can read a different mystery story, make a Mystery Puzzle, and write his or her own mystery. At the meeting, they can trade puzzles and stories.

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Glossary

Genre

 

A category that is used to group kinds of writing either based on the form (for example, short stories or novels), the technique (for example, fiction or nonfiction), or the content (for example, fairy tales, mysteries, or science fiction).

Character

 

A person, animal, or object represented in a story or play.

Setting

 

The time and place where the actions of a story happen.

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