If you’re looking for an engaging and rigorous way to check your students’ understanding of genre, you’ve come to the right place! I created the Genre Mix-Up Mystery as a fun way to check my students' understanding of genre. I once again set the stage to engage and watched them have fun learning!
This activity is a great follow up to a study of genres or a quick brush up to review. This format can be used with any level because you will be choosing the books that students will be investigating and classifying. Anything from picture books to chapter books works!
At my school, we used this as a culminating activity and as an informal assessment of their knowledge they had gained through our genre study. We used my teammate's genre study, which can be found in her Teachers Pay Teacher store: Miss Brandt- Elementary Escapades.
To begin, I gathered approximately 4-6 books of each genre that we had studied. We had a variety of levels in each group so student could select a book at their level. I then made copies of the Genre Mix-Up Mystery booklets for students, which can be found here for FREE! On the inside of the booklet you will find “Detective Evidence Based Terms” sentence frames that the students used for quick reference to be sure they were not only naming the genre, but providing evidence to support their answer as well.
I then posted the clues around the school and left a pile of books (all of the same genre) at each clue. At every clue, I once again set the stage and left the books thrown around with yellow caution tape all over the area. If you're looking for caution tape, click here.
In my classroom, I went a step further and really tried to play up the crime scene. I threw the books around the floor, used the caution tape to barricade off the library area, and even turned off the lights and used black lights to make it look as if we were searching for evidence. You can put out hats for students and even little magnifying glasses so that they can become detectives and fully immerse themselves in the experience.
The Main Event:
After my room had been turned into a crime scene, I grabbed an outfit that made me look like a detective (a black hat and a black jacket) and got ready for the kids! I turned on mystery music from YouTube, turned off the lights and sat at my desk with my back toward the students when they walked. I then let the excitement build! It was so much fun to hear them come in and have no idea what was going on, but start looking around and trying to figure out what we were doing.
Once the students were in the classroom, I let them know that while they were gone someone came in and messed up all the books in our classroom library. It was up to them, the detectives in our class, to solve the mystery! They had to follow the clues around the school and identify the genres of books that the culprit had left at each crime scene. For each correct genre they identified, I gave them a letter. They then had to unscramble the letters to determine who the culprit was. Next to each clue number students had to write a complete sentence using the “Evidence Based Terms” to identify the genre.
For those students that finished early, I put out a variety of books from all different genres on the floor and desks (as part of the original crime scene) and let them sort them back into correct genres for our library.
We had a great time and really caused a buzz around the school. The students were having so much fun and were so determined to figure out the mastery, that they didn't even realize they were reading book summaries and writing.
If you're interested in trying this in your own classroom, please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Mrs Dessert- Sweetest Teacher for a free download. Be sure to click on the star and follow my store for all the latest freebies and resources to keep your students engaged and having fun while they are learning!
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