Mysteries to support critical thinking

mystery detective Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun

Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal.  I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and  I shared with them a few mysteries to solve.  It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.

The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious.  The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.

Steps to Solve:

  1. Read the story slowly.
  2. If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
  3. Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
    • Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
    • What tricks could be in the story?
    • Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
    • Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
    • Something about the setting? (weather, time)

Mystery Stories

  1. In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
  2. A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
  3. Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested.  How could that be?
  4. There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
  5. Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.

Clues:

  1. Friday is not a day of the week
  2. Some careers have both men and women employed
  3. Howard is not a man
  4. Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
  5. The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.

Answers:  (You asked for it, here they are) 

  1. Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
  2. The surgeon is the boys mother.
  3. Howard is a fish.  He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
  4. The items were the remains of a melted snowman.
  5. The man with a mask is a catcher at home plate.

Other posts related to this topic

Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

Highly-abled students need attention too!

magnigying glass Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled.  At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area.  At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability.  Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.

  1. has an excellent memory
  2. has a large vocabulary
  3. Uses complex sentence structure for their age
  4. reads earlier than peers
  5. enjoys problem-solving
  6. demonstrates logical thinking
  7. concerned with social and political issues
  8. asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
  9. has original ideas
  10. enjoys and initiates own learning
  11. is organized
  12. can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
  13. tends to be persistent and motivated
  14. can be impatient and intolerant
  15. has a wide range of interests
  16. may have an extreme focus in one interest
  17. has a deep knowledge base
  18. often highly sensitive
  19. has sophisticated sense of humor
  20. transfers learning to new situations
  21. makes connections between different activities and ideas
  22. works well independently
  23. enjoys spending time with  older students or adults

(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)

Support for Special Education and ELL’s

Support is essential for every child but especially for students with special needs. Because teachers have classrooms filled with students that have many different needs, information is valuable to the learning process.  Parents can help teachers by providing information about their child  that supports their child’s learning.  This communication helps to build a good parent-teacher relationship.

Understood.org- FREE Special Education Resource

Understood.org  provides parents of kids ages 3–20  with learning  issues a free, secure access to personalized information.  Supports are included from experts as well as other parents to help ELL students in the classroom. As a result the site supports a common language for parent/teacher conversations.

https://www.understood.org/en 

Colorín Colorado- FREE ELL Resource

A website that supports teachers and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado has been providing free information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country for more than a decade.

http://www.colorincolorado.org/about

What sites do you use as a resource to help support parent/teacher partnerships? Please share your websites in the comments section!

FREE Pet for Pre-K -Grade 9 Classrooms

free pets for classroomDo you want to know how to get a free pet for your classroom!

This grant provides financial support to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. Established by the Pet Care Trust it helps provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets.  Caring for a pet gives students an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come.

How to Apply:

Pet Care is currently accepting applications from teachers in grades Pre-K through Grade 9 for the 2018-19 school year. Private and public schools may apply for the grant any time between August 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. The classroom grant program is ongoing throughout the year. Prior to applying for the grant, teachers should investigate the school district’s regulations as to which pets are allowed in the classroom.

Grant Detailshttps://www.petsintheclassroom.org/.