Sleuth School

Your lesson will take place in the mystery section of the Reading Adventureland exhibit. Step into a gigantic pop-up book as you follow the Yellow Brick Road into five literary landscapes from children’s books: Adventure Island, Mystery Mansion, Fairy Tale Forest, the Upside-Down Nonsense House, and the Wizard’s Workshop. Students will have lots of hands-on fun that inspires them to laugh, play, learn, and READ!

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich your museum experience.

Mystery parade

Mystery characters use mysterious behaviors. Increase your students’ mystery vocabulary and provide a physical experience that helps them remember new words.

Brainstorm a list of adjectives and adverbs that describe mysteries they have read. Ask students to stand in a snake-like line. Play mystery music and lead the parade by calling out the first word on the list. Everyone in the parade must walk according to the word that is called out. Examples include walking stealthily or threateningly, or walking like a suspected criminal in action.

Crack the code

Most mystery writers use the same formula over and over in their books. For example, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mysteries were written by the Stratemeyer Syndicate using a formula that was farmed out to various ghost writers. Ask students to read at least two stories from their favorite mystery series. Challenge them to crack the code the writer uses in the series. Are the plots of the stories presented similarly? How about the characters? Have students compare the formulas of various writers. For a further challenge ask if they can write the formula as a mathematical expression. For example: seeing + thinking = solving.

Headline news

The daily newspaper provides enough mystery story ideas for any aspiring writer. Select an array of newspaper articles that you feel are appropriate for your students. Have students select an article to turn into a mystery story. They can either role-play the mystery they invent, or write it for others to read. In any case, they should include a detective character that uses the skills the students used in the Sleuth School experience.

Story Magic

Direct students to the museum's Story Magic webpage. Have students work in pairs to illustrate a story based on one of the five genres in Reading Adventureland.

Suggested reading

Familiarity with some, or all, of the following books is helpful:

  • The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Nancy Drew: The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
  • Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
  • Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds by David Adler

For other ideas visit:
http://www.omsi.edu/tech/teachers/secretcodes.pdf http://forensics.rice.edu/pdfs/csi_spread.pdf
www.fffbi.com (radio dramas for non-readers)