Graphic Organizer for Reading Mysteries

I love teaching mysteries to my English students. The best mysteries are complicated and involve close reading and holding a lot of details in your head at once. So I designed this mystery reading graphic organizer that students can fill in as they read a mystery or suspense story.

It helps students solve the mystery by finding all the clues and suspects and then analyzing them. At the same time, it teaches important reading skills such as reading for details, evaluating information from different parts of a reading, critical analysis, reading for an unreliable narrator/character and of course reading for fun.

As students read, they fill in the sheet with key details such as clues and suspects. After reading, they share their worksheets with each other. They can consult in groups to add or revise the worksheet. Then, if the mystery is well-written, they should be able to say Who did it? by the end of class!

You can also find short mystery games to read with these mysteries in the Mystery section of my store.

The mystery reading graphic organizer is on my TpT store and comes with complete instructions on how to fill it out.

Clue by Clue: Elevator Routine

Clue by Clue: The Elevator Routine is a puzzle, based on a well-known joke for children. Every day a woman leaves her apartment on the 20th floor. She gets in the elevator and goes to the ground floor. But when she comes home, she gets off at the 15th floor. Then she walks up the 5 remaining floors.

What’s going on?

Is the elevator broken? Does she forget where she lives? Maybe she’s trying to get some exercise. When students go through all the clues and figure out the answer, they’ll probably groan. It’s a pretty silly puzzle, but one that gets students practicing critical thinking and talking about their theories.

What is Clue by Clue?

In pairs or small groups, students analyze each clue to try to decide if it’s relevant or irrelevant and what it means. It’s a great way for students to practice critical thinking skills, such as evaluating evidence, synthesizing information from different clues, and also telling truth from lie and fact from opinion. (Check out my post on Why short mysteries make awesome critical thinking activities for more and a list of all my clue by clue activities).

Previews

Clue by Clue Elevator Routine Preview
The Teacher Sheet with the situation, hints and the solution.
Clue by Clue Elevator Routine Preview
The student sheet with the situation and clues to be handed out to them one by one.

Download Elevator Routine

So, head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase Clue by Clue: Elevator Routine Mystery Activity!

Or check out the other Clue by Clue Mystery Activities.

You can also visit my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources, including a graphic organizer and story cards to help students write their own mysteries.

Clue by Clue: Imprisoned

Clue by Clue: Imprisoned is a sort of puzzle mystery, based on a true News of the Weird item. A woman robs a store and speeds away. Soon a policeman is on her tail, but somehow she ends up in prison before she is even arrested. How could that be?

What happened?

Was she pulled over? Did she get a ticket for speeding or chased from the robbery? You give the students the clues one by one. By the end, they have all the information they need to solve it.

Imprisoned is based on a true story, taken straight from the weird news headlines. Like many of the Clue By Clue mysteries, Imprisoned is actually more of a puzzle. How did she get into prison. When students figure out the answer, they’ll realize they should have known from the start!

What is Clue by Clue?

In pairs or small groups, students analyze each clue to try to decide if it’s relevant or irrelevant and what it means. It’s a great way for students to practice critical thinking skills, such as evaluating evidence, synthesizing information from different clues, and also telling truth from lie and fact from opinion. (Check out my post on Why short mysteries make awesome critical thinking activities for more and a list of all my clue by clue activities).

Previews

Clue by Clue Imprisoned Preview
The Teacher Sheet with the situation, hints and the solution.
Clue by Clue Imprisoned Preview
The student sheet with the situation and the clues to be cut out and shared one by one.

Download Imprisoned

So, head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase Clue by Clue: Imprisoned Mystery Activity!

It’s also available as a Powerpoint presentation game.

Or check out the other Clue by Clue Mystery Activities.

You can also visit my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources, including a graphic organizer and story cards to help students write their own mysteries.

Clue by Clue: Empty Bank

Clue by Clue Empty Bank is one of my favorite critical thinking mystery activities.

Students follow a series of clues to figure out why 10 policemen drove up to a bank in the middle of the night, lights flashing, and sirens blazing, when there was no one inside the bank and nothing was stolen? Based on a true story, this critical thinking activity puts students close reading and speculative skills to the test.

What are Clue by Clues

Clue by Clues are fun mystery games I came up with to share my love of solving mysteries with my classes. Students work in small groups to solve a puzzle. The catch is that they are given each clue one at a time. This slows down the mystery solving process, meaning students spend more time discussing each clue and revising their theories. That means more time using critical thinking skills. It also means more talking time as students discuss the importance of each clue, reevaluate their previous ideas, and try to persuade others of their point of view.

Each Clue by Clue is solvable and the clues are carefully written to lead students down the path to the answer by eliminating alternative theories. There are also hint questions that teachers can give to students.

Why Clue by Clues

Clue by Clues make great warm-up activities, fillers, or time killers for those last minutes of class and early finishers. They can be critical reading activities that teach students to read closely for details, synthesize information from different sources, apply prior knowledge about the world, and to recognize the logic of a claim and evaluate its validity.

They are also a lot of fun!

While students are solving the mysteries they are also developing their spoken language skills, such as:
* Modal verbs of speculation: She must have forgotten her keys, It could have been the butler
* Opinion language: I think…., I’m positive…, I’m not sure…
* Hedging: It’s possible, probably, maybe, it’s not impossible.
* Conclusions: That means that…
* Emphasis: There’s no way that…
* Hypotheticals: What if he didn’t do it, If he was at the movies, he couldn’t have done it.

Where to Get Clue by Clue Critical Thinking Activities

You can download and purchase Clue by Clue Empty Bank at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. And check out my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources!