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?
I read this with my 5th graders and we had a great time with it. I love the book! Here are a few things we did:
1. Start off reading a 2 or 5 minute mystery to get their minds thinking (there are several books with those titles).
2. As you're reading the book, each child creates a "detective notebook" where they take notes as each character or clue is discussed. They also enjoy drawing a picture of the characters.
3. Discuss vocabulary like the other poster said.
4. Make predictions at the end of each reading. They write down their prediction and check it each day.
5. At the end of the book, let them create their own mysteries. Put them into groups of 2-3. Give each group a baggie with 3 clues in it. The clues have to be used in the story, even if they're just red herrings. I give them things pulled from my desk (paper clip, rubber band, etc...) and a small piece of paper with a few letters and numbers written on it. They make great stories!
6. Rent or buy the movie Get a Clue. It's based on the book, but has many differences in it. We did comparing and contrasting.
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.
I am a middle school reading teacher in WA state. I am just beginning The Westing Game with my 6th graders. I would really appreciate if you could send me any files that you mentioned tha you are open to sharing! Thanks you so much!
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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