English Advantage

Opinions, Reflections, and Resources from an ESL Teacher

Tag: critical thinking

Clue by Clue Mysteries: Critical Thinking Activities

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. They also are perfect critical thinking activities! Clue by Clues make great warm-up activities, fillers, or time killers for those last minutes of class and early finishers.

Students work in small groups to solve a puzzle or mystery 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. And that means more time using critical thinking skills. It also means more talk time as students discuss the importance of each clue and reevaluate their previous ideas. And of course, try to persuade others of their point of view.

Each Clue by Clue Activity is available to download and print. Inside you’ll find an introduction to the mystery for students to read, clue cards to distribute to students, hints to help them along, a full solution, and some follow-up discussion questions to extend the lesson. Each activity comes with complete teacher notes on how to use it.

Why Clue by Clues?

Research shows that a good critical thinking activity is one where students evaluate a range of facts and opinions (Moore and Parker, 1986), combine ideas in various ways (Smith, Ward and Finke, 1995), use complex thinking patterns (Feldman, 1997),  and express or defend their opinions with evidence (Lipman, 1988).

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Clue by Clue: Murder of a Millionaire

Clue by Clue: Murder of a Millionaire is one of my favorite mystery activities. It’s an original mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie. A wealthy businessman having a dinner party at his country house is found murdered. The catch? The room was locked from the inside!

Who did it?

His wife, who found out he was cheating on her? The secretive maid? His own business partner? You give the students the clues one by one. By the end, they have all the information they need to solve it.

Murder of a Millionaire is the longest Clue By Clue, with 22 clues. As with all clue by clue mysteries, students are given the situation to analyze. They are then given the clue cards, one at a time. 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 Murder of a Millionaire Preview

The Teacher Sheet with the Situation, Hints and the Solution.

Clue by Clue Murder of a Millionaire Preview

One page of the clues to cut out and give to the students one by one.

Download Murder of a Millionaire

So, head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase Clue by Clue: Murder of a Millionaire 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 Mystery Bundle

The Clue by Clue Mystery Bundle contains 7 of my Clue by Clue Mystery Activities. What is a Clue by Clue Mystery? It’s a great warm-up, filler, or time killer for early finishers. Students are given a mystery to solve–whodunit or how did they do it or why. They have to figure it out by reading a series of clues, one at a time. As they receive each clue, they speculate on its significance and what it tells them about the situation.

Once they have received all the clues, they should have enough information to figure it out!

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.

Teacher Notes are included with hints and the solution along with a students sheet that contains the clues for you to copy and cut-up.

The activities included (with previews for each one) are:
The Break-In

The Elevator Routine Riddle

Imprisoned!

An Unrelated Murder

Murder of a Millionaire

Empty Bank

The Perfect Crime

The Break In

And the Mystery Story Reading Graphic Organizer

Buy the full bundle here. And check out my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources!

Clue by Clue: The Perfect Murder

Clue by Clue: The Perfect Murder asks students to solve the mystery of how a woman killed her husband. Her husband never saw it coming. The police never even investigated her.

How did she do it…and get away?

The Perfect Murder is based on one of my favorite episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. The best part is, once students solve it, you’ve got a great topic of conversation.

Did she even commit a crime?

Like many of the Clue By Clue mysteries, The Perfect Murder gives students all the information they need to figure out how she did it, and got away! There are no tricks or gimmicks here. But what happened is so unbelievable, that students come up with all sorts of great 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 The Perfect Murder Preview

The Teacher Sheet with the situation, hints and the solution.

Clue by Clue The Perfect Murder Preview

Student sheet with the situation and the clues to be cut out and shared with them one by one.

Download The Perfect Murder

So, head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase Clue by Clue: The Perfect Murder 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: The Unrelated Murder

Clue by Clue: Unrelated Murder Critical Thinking Activity asks students to solve a murder mystery with no apparent motive. But there’s more than meets the eye. This mystery, based on a classic premise, requires students to think carefully and put together information from a variety of clues.

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 thinking activities that teach students to look 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: Unrelated Murder Critical Thinking Activity at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. And check out my ever-growing section of mystery activities and lesson plans for other classroom resources!

Also available as a PowerPoint presentation game

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.