Archives for : mystery unit

Character Trait Cards and Mystery Graphic Organizer

I have been MIA for a couple of weeks, but back today with a few fun things to share!  We are in the midst of our Mystery Book Club unit (click here to read about how we launched the unit with a real-life mystery).  I wanted to spice it up this year so I made some fun graphic organizers for my students to use while they are reading!  The one I am posting today is a one-pager that includes all the elements of a mystery!  Click here or on the picture to grab it for FREE (for a limited time).

Mystery Graphic Organizer

I explained to my students that detectives have to do a lot of paperwork to complete while on a case.  They are constantly keeping notes, writing down clues, tracking suspects, etc.  It totally hooked them and they are working hard on their “paperwork” as they plow through their mystery books!


Mystery Graphic Organizer

Mystery Graphic OrganizerDuring our Read Aloud time we are also continuing our work with identifying specific character traits and noticing patterns with character behavior.  After talking with my colleague, Kelli over at Tales of a Teacher, I was inspired to try tracking character traits a bit differently than I usually do.  Normally, we have a chart with our characters and keep a traditional list of traits.  Here is what I am trying now and I think it will really help kids to see patterns with characters.  It will also help students see what traits are very strong and evident throughout the book.  This will help when it comes time to write about our characters!

A few months ago, I made some character traits cards (click here or the pictures below to view them in my TPT store) which included the definitions in kid-friendly language and synonyms.  I cut them all out and use them during small groups (for vocab work, matching games, teaching specific traits, teaching synonyms, etc.).  Here is what they look like cut apart:

Character Trait Cards

Then I thought I could also use them without cutting them apart!  The picture below shows what they look like before cutting.  Each page has one main trait (at the top), the definition, and 2-3 synonyms.  I originally left blank boxes to add other synonyms.  Read below to see how I’m using those blank boxes now!

Tracking Character Traits

As we read, we post traits that fit our character (I actually pre-picked the traits I knew would fit so that if the kids didn’t come up with one, we wouldn’t miss it).  If we see them do or say something later in the book that demonstrates that trait again, we put a tally mark!  By the end of the book, we can see what traits are the strongest!  Students are also learning new words to use when describing characters.  The above example is our beginning work for Jigsaw Jones!

Onto other things!  Here are some pics of our Valentine’s Day Celebration!  Can’t you just feel the love?

And look at all of this…as much as I LOVE chocolate, I don’t think I can handle this much!  One little kiddo even made me a super creative Valentine out of pipe cleaners, post-its, googley eyes, paperclips, and binder clips!


All that chocolate is not helping me slim down!  I’m linking up with Gina over at Third Grade TidBits for Slim Down Saturday – even though I am not doing well slimming down :(

Click the pics to join the linky!




I am just starting completely fresh this week!  With my b-day and v-day all in one week, this has been one sugar-filled and workout-less week!  I am still not working out and can’t seem to force myself to do it and now that broomball is over, I am getting zero activity!  So, I am setting a very simple goal of working out JUST ONCE!!!!  Mexico is less than a month away!!!  Must focus!!!

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Country Commercials & Mysteries Kick-Off

I am linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Linky!  Click the pic to join in the fun!  She has some cute scratch-off cards for incentives!

saturday spark linky

I did two things this past week that were EXTREMELY motivating and FUN!!  Students wrote “commercials” for their countries they have been studying and we had a real-life mystery to solve as a way to kick-off our Mystery Unit in Reading!

Country Commercials

We had ANOTHER 2 days off this week because of the bitter cold.  Due to the missed days, I tried to cram the end of our Country Study Unit into 3 days!  Each group has been reading all about a certain country and to share their information, they had to write a commercial!  To do this, they had to determine the most important information and think about how to persuade people to visit their country!  Here they are hard at work!

Country Commercials

County Commercials

Now keep in mind that because of the missed school days, they did not get much time to practice!  Had we actually had school, I probably would have given them a little more guidance and help editing…but oh well…they are truly authentic!!

You can listen to each group’s commercial below – they are so cute (and almost all are under 1 minute)!  If you are thinking of doing something similar, you could use these as examples of what to do (or what not do to!).

There is even a blooper commercial at the bottom for your enjoyment!






Japan (different group):


Mexico (different group):


Okay – so this commercial is considered a blooper!!  Click to listen and when you get about 45 seconds in, you’ll hear the blooper!

Mystery Unit Kick-Off

The next exciting part of our week was our Mystery Unit Kick-Off!  We actually had a real-life mystery to solve!

Mrs. McDonald’s powdered sugar donuts went missing!!!


We had a hot case on our hands….The Case of the Missing Donuts!  To help solve the mystery, we made detective journals.  I left it completely up to them how to organize their information!  First, we made a list on the board of things we should probably keep track of (clues, suspects, motive, alibis, etc.).  This was a great time to discuss some Mystery vocab!  Then they went to town setting up their journals!

Throughout the day, we gathered more and more clues (all very strategically planned by me), eliminated some suspects, added some suspects, questioned the suspects, and noticed any suspicious behavior!  They carried their journals with them all day!

Detective Journals

Here is how someone organized the inside:

Detective Journals
And here is the back of someone’s journal:

Detective Journals
Throughout the day, we kept noticing more and more staff had remnants of powdered sugar on them!  After we questioned everyone, all evidence pointed to the teacher’s lounge!

Sure enough, when we went down to investigate, we found more powdered sugar on the table!  After the detectives questioned me further, they learned that I had gone into the lounge with my donuts while they were at specialists earlier in the morning.

The clue that cracked the case was the secretary’s announcement over the intercom (she really just beeped into my room but made it sound like it was to the whole staff) reminding the staff that it was treat day in the lounge and the lounge needed to be cleaned up.  Of course, after that announcement, the kids asked, “what’s treat day?”  I explained it’s when staff members leave treats in the lounge for all to share…and then the lightbulbs when off!

They solved the mystery….I had left my donuts in the lounge earlier in the day and that is why so many staff members had traces of powdered sugar on them!  People thought they were part of the treats for treat day!

I think this was THE MOST fun we’ve had in awhile and it was the perfect start to our Mystery Unit in Reader’s Workshop!!

Finally, I am linking up with Gina over at Third Grade Tidbits for Slim Down Saturdays!  Click the pic to join the fun!



This week was meh…it was wonky again because of the 2 “cold” days so my sleep schedule is just horrible!  Husband and I also went out to eat Friday night and pigged out….hence the large gain Saturday morning.  On the bright side, I played 2 broomball games today and burned 1500 calories!  Today is the start of a new week!

Have a good one ya’ll!

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