So, I posted recently that my sixth graders were writing a mystery that was going to take place in the library. I took two of the best mysteries that were submitted and combined them! Here's how our mystery looked:
Mrs. Svarda got to school on Monday morning and saw the mess. At first she was just mad that all of the books were out, then she saw that all the books were missing their endings. She picked up a book and noticed that the barcode was missing, too. She looked around and found that several books were missing their endings and barcodes. The scanners were also missing so no one could check out books! Then Mrs. Svarda was scared and mad. Who could've done such a thing? What happened here? How could this happen? She needed help.
Starbelly Sneetch Alibi:
It was 5:00 and I heard a knock on my door. It was Fox in Socks. He came in and I turned off my music and put away my IPod. We played at my house until we got bored. We decided it would be fun to go to the movies. We texted Hop On Pop and Yertle the Turtle to see if they wanted to come, too. Everyone came to the movie except Hop on Pop. After the movie we couldn't think of what to do so we walked around. We thought we might stop by the library to visit Hop On Pop. It started to rain as we walked so we stopped at Fox in Sock's house to pick up some blankets to keep dry on our walk.
Hop On Pop Alibi:
It was 5:00 and I was looking at my clock when the doorbell rang. It was Yertle the Turtle. He had brought me some homemade bread. He asked if I wanted to go to the mall. My mom said, "No. I had to work on my homework at the library." Yertle the Turtle got a text right after that asking if we wanted to go and see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. Bummer. I really wanted to see a movie and hated that I had to go to the library instead. Yertle the Turtle left to meet everyone for the movie. I headed to the library with my homework. My animal report was due on Monday and mom said I couldn't do anything fun until I was finished with the report. The fun thing was that everyone came by the library after the movie and told me all about it. They had a great time. At 8:00, everyone had to head home. I had about thirty minutes left of homework, so I told them I'd have to stay around just a bit longer...
Yertle the Turtle Alibi:
It was 4:00 and I was cooking some homemade bread. When it was done I wanted to have some fun so I took some bread over to my friend Hop On Pop. I asked if he wanted to go to the mall, but then I got a text from Fox in Socks and Starbelly Sneetch asking if I wanted to go to the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. My mom said I could go to the movie, but his mom said he had to do homework. He tried not to show it, but boy, was he mad. I had to leave Hop On Pop to make it to the movie on time. I told him if we had time, we'd stop by the library after the movie to hang out with him.
Fox in Socks' Alibi:
I was sitting in my room when my mom came in and said when I finished my chores I could play. I decided to go over to Starbelly Sneetch's house to play. We thought it would be fun to go to see a movie and texted our friends to see if they could come, too. When the movie was over we went by my house to get some blankets because it was raining and we didn't want to get wet. Then, we headed to the library to visit Hop On Pop because he was doing homework there. At the library, I looked for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. I really liked the movie so I thought I would like the book.
What the students do:
When the students entered the library, they each grabbed a clipboard with a pencil, ingredients of a mystery checklist, alibis, map of the crime scene, and suspect list attached to it. They also grabbed a highlighter. I had the problem and alibis typed up on my SMART board including pictures of the characters. I read the problem and each alibi to the students. We walked through the ingredients of a mystery and checked off all of the mystery elements that our mystery had on the list. Then, I separated the students into two groups. One team surveyed the crime scene and drew the map of the evidence in the crime scene first. The second team worked in teams to read through the alibis and highlight evidence they found in the text that made them believe a character or characters might be guilty. After ten minutes, the teams swapped stations. We returned together as a group to discuss all of the evidence the students had found in the crime scene as well as the alibis that led them to believe that specific characters could be guilty of the crime. We completed the suspect list together.
Students work in teams to highlight evidence in the alibis.
Students sketched the crime scene.
We taped off the crime scene with caution tape. The crime scene included Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, barcodes with fur on them (from characters), endings ripped out of the end of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (these were really just copies I ripped), a blanket, movie ticketes (3), and a book about bumblebees (this was the book Hop On Pop was using to do his research for homework).
I found the copies for the ingredients of a mystery checklist and suspect list from Beth Newingham's Scholastic post about the mystery unit she teaches in her classroom.
The students really thought like detectives in this lesson! I did catch a few of them off guard with my red herrings, though. The fuzz on the barcodes made some of them immediately suspect Fox in Socks and the Starbelly Sneetch. One of the kids said, "This is the best lesson we've had in the library all year!" So, you can make whoever you want responsible for the crime. I decided that Hop On Pop was guilty. He was mad that he did not get to go to the movie with his friends. He was working on his report about bumblebees (since bears love honey) and had to stay later than his friends in the library to finish up. All of the other characters visited the library to visit Hop On Pop and they did not say anything about something being wrong in the library. Hop On Pop tore the endings out of the books when his friends left.
To excite the kids about checking out mysteries in our library, we created a mystery display. All of the books were sealed in brown paper bags with the barcodes on the outside so we could check the books out without opening the bags. Each bag had a different mystery inside. This was a fun way for our students to try reading something new in the library and practice their detective skills we learned in our lesson together!
Mystery books in mystery bags!