This fun and engaging “Whodunnit” read aloud is the perfect Christmas activity for your students! In this activity, students will learn to become detectives, and then use their sleuthing skills to figure out who stole Santa’s List! With lots of suspects and circumstantial evidence, the students will have to take good notes, make lots of inferences, and think like a real detective in order to solve the mystery! This product was created with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in mind, but it can definitely be scaled to work with other grade levels as well. So how does it work?
The students will take part in a 3-act reader’s theater. There are 19 characters which can be shared or doubled up in order to give every student a part. As the story unfolds, so do the clues. After each act, the students will stop, take notes, and discuss any suspicious activities. The final act reveals whether each character was the thief or not.
How Long will this activity take?
Plan on at least an hour. Reading the script will take at least 45 minutes or so depending on the fluency of your readers and how well they are paying attention for their lines. Using the additional resources that are included will lengthen the amount of time. The more discussion and detective work the students do, the more fun the activity will be. This activity was designed to take up an entire ELA block of time, however, it can be spread out over a week’s time by completing one act a day. It’s great for that last day (or week) before Christmas break!
~ Reader’s Theater script in 3 versions (printable, PowerPoint, or Google Slides)
~ Lesson in motive, means, opportunity, and circumstantial evidence
~ 20 vocabulary words are sprinkled throughout the script
~ Sheets to take notes and narrow down the suspects (plus a Google Slides Version)
~ Pictures of evidence that can help solve the crime
~ Writing activity to create the perfect ending to the story
Why Should You Use This?
I was inspired to create my first mystery product after hosting a murder mystery party for my own 16 year old daughter, who is very much into theater. It was said to be the best party ever! I wondered how I could create something similar for students! I modified the format of the clue delivery system to ensure that every clue was revealed to every student, and voila, The Thanksgiving Turkey Theft was born.
So many teachers loved the Thanksgiving mystery that I decided to make one for Christmas too! Your students will love hanging out in the North Pole while they search for clues that will get Santa’s list back!
Having the Reader’s Theater is the perfect platform for integrating real academic skills. This activity will feel like a fun day, but not a moment of the day will be wasted!
This product is great because:
~ It’s super engaging
~ It targets real skills to help students grow in reading and writing
~ It helps students get into the holiday spirit
~ There’s very little prep!
~ If you choose the digital script, along with your projector, you do not have to make a copy for each student. The font is very large so that students can read their lines from across the room.
Looking for other easy-to-use Christmas, Hanukkah, or winter activities?
“My fifth graders have been engaged in this activity this week and are having so much fun! They ask everyday if we are going to continue the play. Listening to them talk and share their thoughts and ideas on “whodunnit” has been so enlightening. Tomorrow is the big reveal and I overheard several students mention they hope they aren’t sick so they can find out who stole the list! Definitely recommend this activity, especially right before Christmas!” -Nancy D.
Happily brought to you by Rachel Lynette and Cassi Noack of Minds in Bloom.