Mystery/Detective Unit Study

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We are about finished with our Beyond Five in a Row unit on Helen Keller. So I asked the boys what they were interested in studying. Noah said, "Animals", which is what we are doing for science next year. Zach said he wanted to study mysteries or detectives. So I decided that for the rest of the school year we would do a unit on mysteries! This is going to be so much fun!
Here is what I have in store for the boys. First of all, our read aloud is going to be The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Here is a brief summary from Wikipedia:
Sixteen individuals, of all ages, races, and socioeconomic classes, most of whom live or work in the Sunset Towers apartment building, are summoned to the reading of the will of wealthy industrialist Samuel W. Westing. The will is in the form of a puzzle, dividing up the sixteen heirs into eight pairs, giving each pair a unique set of clues, and challenging the heirs to solve the mystery of which of the sixteen of them killed Westing; whoever solves the mystery will inherit Westing's $200,000,000 fortune. Friendships between the sixteen heirs are made, broken, and mended as each pair attempts to pursue the solution in their own way. To add to the mayhem, there are occasional bombs set by an unidentified heir. As the participants' wild accusations fly, only one heir keeps a cool head and solves the puzzle.
I have heard a lot of great things about this book. I can't wait to read it. We will keep a detective's log to try to figure out who committed the crime.We are also going to read about some mysteries in history using a book from National Geographic (see below). I don't think we will read all of them. My goal is to focus on Stonehenge, El Dorado, the lost colony of Roanoke, and maybe the shooting of JFK.
Another fun book that we are going to use is Art Fraud Detective by Anna Nilsen. In this book you have to look at original paintings by great artist like Van Gogh and then examine the paintings in the fictional art museum in the book to see if you can spot the forged paintings. I have been looking through this book and love it! It gets kids to really look at great art and the details of famous paintings. There are two other books in the series, The Great Art Scandal and Art Auction Mystery. I am going to try to get my hands on those if I can. One of the fun activities we are going to do is a mystery meal! I am really excited about this! Have you ever done a mystery meal? Basically you are given a menu and all the foods are given a different name. The new name has clues to what the items are. You are then required to write down what items you want for each course (we will probably do three courses). The items are then served to you according to your choices that you wrote down. Because you really don't know what all the items are you may come up with some interesting courses! For example, you may get dessert first. You may not have any utensils to eat with (the utensils are on the menu too.). It should be fun. Check back later...I will be posting our mystery meal menu! But, shhhh, don't tell the kids!


Julie said...

Debbie, this looks like so much fun! I know my kids would love it. I can't wait to see all that you do. :)

susan4him said...

Thanks for sharing your unit, we plan to do Detectives this next year. Happy Homeschooling!