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Novel Unit - Westing Game

Compiled By: Mrs. G

These are activities you can use when teaching the Westing Game.

Westing Game
Posted by: Jan Moore

I taught The Westing Game this year with my 6th grade Pre-AP class. I had exactly as many students as "Westing heirs" in the book. The students drew names to find "their" character and took notes as we read on traits of their character. They also wrote down the clues on slips of paper so they could rearrange them. (These were kept in an envelope which doubled as bookmark.) At the end of the book, each student drew a "Wanted for Murder" poster of their character and had to include as many physical and other traits that they had gleaned along the way. Before the "murderer" was revealed, I had them pretend that they were the defense attorney for whoever they thought was the murderer. They had to write a closing argument to the "jury" (the class) and present it orally. The "jury" voted on who they thought was the murderer based on the summations. Several very good points were brought out during these. They enjoyed the book and the unit immensely.

The Westing Game
Posted by: CQ

Since The Westing Game is a whodunit book, my class became really involved with it. It can be difficult reading for nonreaders unless you do daily activities about the book. Some of the things I used was t-charts, sociograms, the hot seat. Since the mystery continually evolves it was important for me to make predictions and return to them over and over so students could revise them (as their found new evidence). I used a fraction hunt to get them into the book. I hid a candy bar in the room and gave clues to its location. This set the stage for the mystery.

Westing Game
Posted by: jennifer

This was my students' absolute favorite book last year! I teach 5th. I did have some lower readers that would've had trouble with it, so I had them read something else. I would say that anyone who reads one year below grade level or more would have some difficulty reading this independently, perhaps with a whole class, they would be ok. Here are some ideas for this book:

---Keep a detective journal, where you write down all the clues and predictions about what you think will happen. Tell them they have to thoroughly explain in complete sentences who they think the "killer" is. ( journal after every chapter)I did not have them do questions after every chapter, because it would've killed the spirit of the kids...I am telling you this is a GOOD BOOK!!!

---Have them do character sketches of the characters and draw pictures and hang them on a Bulletin Board. These characters are VERY interesting and the kids liked this activity.

---Quizzes after every 5 chapters--Hey have to assess comprehension some time, right?

-- Try to get multiple copies of the game CLUE. I had the kids play this game in groups of four when we finished reading. THEY LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Westing Game
Posted by: SusanTeach

Yes, I taught this book with my high 5th graders and both the boys and girls loved it. I did something similar to SC - each child kept a "detective's notebook" to write down clues, characters, etc... Also, each day at the end of the reading they'd write a short paragraph of who they thought "dunit" and why.

Some other things we did:
*Before reading the book, I'd read a "5 min. mystery" (book I found) and let them try to solve it.
*After reading the book I let them bring in their Clue games and we broke them into groups to play.
*We watched the movie Get a Clue and did some comparing/contrasting.
*I gave groups of students a "puzzle piece" (piece of construction paper shaped like a jigsaw puzzle piece) and they put a character's name and clues about him/her. We put all the pieces randomly around on a bulletin board that said "Whodunit?" at the top.
*I gave groups of students a baggie with 3-5 objects in it (such as a paperclip, paper with a number written on it, pen, eraser, etc...). They had to use those clues to write their own mystery. They were allowed to include a "red herring" if they wanted to.

That's all I can remember, other than the typical summarizing, predicting, comprehension questions, etc... The book is a wonderful mystery! I wish I could use it with my 3rd graders, but there's no way they'd follow it! :D

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Westing Game
Posted by: Steff

I use this with my 7th graders. I let students draw for parts so all characters, then I add storyteller parts. Small parts are grouped with other parts. I skim ahead to help students decide if it is their turn to read. They read any paragraph that they speak in or do the major activity in. We set up the desks as tables and receive clues in envelopes on the days that heirs meet. The students come dressed as character for the 2nd meeting of the heirs. I us Holes with my 8th grade.

Posted by: Newbie

My students read The Westing Game last semester, and most of them liked it. Some of them thought it was confusing, so we made graphic organizers and had a lot of discussion so that we could keep the characters and twists straight. I did have a couple of students say that they thought it dragged on, but almost all of them liked the ending. While it may not be a great adult book, it is entertaining, and it's good for kids.

I used the book to help teach elements of a mystery, and I incorporated that into lessons about genre. They also had to use higher level thinking skills while reading the book, and we used those to write essays, do vocabulary, summaries, etc.

In general, I think it went well. The kids surprised me with their memories of detail and ability to think on a higher plane.

pizza boxes
Posted by: kidsrmybiz

I went and got empty pizza boxes and the kids made their own "Clue" type game but with the characters and settings of the book. They absolutely loved this. The day we introduced the games and the kids played them was so fun!

I'll check my file at school and see if there is anything else I can share with you.

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We had a blast
Posted by: Chris G

with The Westing Game in my fifth grade class...about half of them "got it", but the other half had to be spoon fed. Each student became an heir, and were paired up the same as the book. This was done randomly, and really worked. Friday everyone dressed up as their character and we had a party. I still have middle schoolers come back and ask if I'm still doing the Westing Game with my class, and many of those are boys. I wouldn't hesitate doing it with 8th graders.

You'll come up with all sorts of ideas as you read and reread the story....

Have fun!

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read it with 5th grade
Posted by: mytwocents

We read this when I taught 5th grade. I broke the class up into detective 'groups'. They read together and discussed. I worked with those lower readers; the advanced readers were more on their own except for group discussion times. Each group kept 'detective files' where they took notes about each character. This helped them remember a lot! We also made cards with all the 'clue words' we found as we read. It was fun to watch the groups lay all the word cards out and try to figure out what it said...took a while, but finally groups started putting the words together in the song. I tied a lot into the book. To go along with the 'chess theme' I recruited another teacher in the building to play us in a game of chess...the students didn't know who the 'mystery player' was. We made a move a day. They really got into it. It was fun to have a 'revealing' at the end of the game. As a technology link, we made a graphic organizer web on the computer...Sam Westing was in the middle. THey had to link each character to him with a description of how that character 'related' to him.

It was really a fun book. The kids all loved it. We also watched the movie. It is corny and not nearly as good as the book, but it was a great springboard to compare/contrast. We made Venn diagrams comparing the movie to the book. The kids were very surprised how different they were.

I think 8th graders would love the book. The nice thing about it is that not many of the kids seemed to have read it before!

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loved the book
Posted by: kristeacher

I used the Westing Game in sixth grade and the kids and I absolutely loved it. THis was part of the mystery genre study. We listened to Sherlock Holmes on audio, read Poe, did quick who done its, and wrote mysteries. We created clue books, the students listed the clues and made deductions about who did it. Since there are so many characters, I assigned one character to each child and they were responsible for listing traits and actions of their characters to the class. We made a giant board with all of their characters listed and illustrated. We continued to add things as we found out about each person. The predictions made using this book are great and we charted these on a bulletin board. After reading this, we watched Murder on the Orient Express and created venn diagrams on the two. The students then wrote Compare / contrast essays on the two.
I forget the other things we did. I now teach second. I am thinking of doing a mystery unit this year.

Good luck and enjoy.

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Posted by: Tatum

I do not still have my test, but I remember what I did. I had it be a matching test. I put all the characters and their descriptions and had them match. I also had quotes they had to match to the person.

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Westing Game ideas
Posted by: katabanata

I used this website to find some of the lesson plans and ideas that I currently use for The Westing Game. I start the unit by introducing the mystery genre and teaching them the vocabulary (red herring, sleuth, etc.). You can find some great picture books to read as an intro. also.

I have the kids pick the names of the characters out of a hat, and then have them draw the person using the description in the book. There are 16 characters involved in the will, but there are also many minor characters, and I want each kid to be able to pick a name. Since there is barely a description of the minor characters, I have the kids that choose these characters draw based on what they imagine the character to look like. I hang these pictures up on the board (suspect chart) and we take notes and write down the clues for each character, and talk about their relationships to each other as well. The drawings and the notes help the kids keep track of all the characters.

This is a great book to have the kids make predictions with. It can definitely be done after every few chapters also.

There are a few websites that are good also. This book can be confusing for some kids to read on their own. I'm thinking of doing it as a read-aloud and doing small reading groups with other mystery novels. Do you have any recommendations of mysteries?

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Westing Game Project
Posted by: FischerTeach

I posted this on another thread, but here is the project that I use with my 6th graders. I also have chapter questions, vocabulary, and character descriptions that I compiled from various websites. If you are interested, send me a message with your email address and I will send those to you, too. You might also want to check out the following website.

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a few ideas...
Posted by: klperry

I did this with a group of sixth graders several years back and they loved it!

As an above poster said, there aren't very precise descriptions of the minor characters. I had the kids look through magazines and find pictures of what they think the characters looked like and write the descriptions next to them, they created a detective's clue book with the descriptions.

Next, they took a huge sheet of bulletin board paper and created a map of Sunset Towers, who lives where, etc. They really got into this activity.

I also used this book as an opportunity to use predicting, but elaborated to explain how to check and correct predictions if your initial predictions were incorrect, simple T chart is what I used.

Long ago in the mailbox magazine was a matrix of all the characters and you had to write clues for each character, I can check and see if I have that at school.

You picked an excellent book, good luck!!

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