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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Detectives

What a difference a day makes! After feeling discouraged about the picture inferencing lesson from yesterday, I racked my brain (and the internet) for a better way to teach this strategy. I found a first grade blog that shared an inferencing lesson that involved detective work. I took this idea, ran with it, and created my own little mystery for the kids to solve today! Warning: This takes a lot of prep and organization, but the end result is SO worth it.

So, to start things off, I wrote a quick little story on the Smartboard about a boy named Tim who had a snow day and was watched by his Grandma while his parents went to work. When his mother arrived home at 5:00, Tim and  Grandma were no where to be found! Worried, the mother started collecting clues from the house to try and figure out what Tim and Grandma did all day and why they weren't home...

The students job: Use the evidence his mother found around the house to solve the mystery. Where are Tim and Grandma?

I collected all sorts of things to put in the evidence envelopes. For example,  an empty hot cocoa packet, a Hershey wrapper, empty mac and cheese box, a book, game pieces, a blueberry muffin recipe and a muffin pan (note: I did not put the recipe and the pan together. This way some kids saw the pan first and thought cupcakes, but their inference changed when they saw the muffin recipe.)

The main clues that pieced it all together were: a pet adoption poster, a Petco receipt for dog food, and dog paw prints in the snow.  All of these clues were in separate envelopes.

The desired result was that the kids would infer Tim and Grandma adopted a puppy and were walking the dog when Tim's mother came home.

One of my favorite clues was this note. 

It really required them to think. Why would they be meeting someone at a big hill during a snow storm? To go sledding, of course! 

The kids had a blast playing detective! The magnifying glasses really helped them get into character. (Thanks, Kristen!)

The kids recorded all the evidence and their inferences on this graphic organizer. 

After they collected all the clues, the real detective work started. They had to create a timeline of events based on their evidence in order to infer where they thought Tim and Grandma were at 5:00. The only event they had a time for was sledding at 2:00.  The conversations they had during this time were priceless. They truly sounded like little detectives, piecing all the evidence together. They were making inferences left and right without even realizing it. Teamwork was a must and they really worked hard together to solve the mystery!

Each group was able to work together to correctly solve the mystery. I was thrilled! The best part about this lesson was that each group started with a different evidence packet. Therefore, the groups received the same information, but at different times. This meant the kids were making different inferences based on their schema. However, they all came to the same conclusion when they put the pieces together.  

The kids had a blast! It was refreshing to hear "This is so fun!" and " Wow,  how cool is this?"

If your kids struggle with inferencing, I would definitely recommend this activity!

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