Lesson Plan

Primary Source Murder Mystery

Solve a mystery using primary sources as evidence
Avery B.
Media specialist/librarian
The Pinnacle Charter School (Elementary)
Federal Heights, United States
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Students will be able to...

Investigate primary sources as a source of information

English Language Arts
Grades 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduce the activity

Activity: Presenting

I describe that there has been a murder mystery and that it is up to them to help me solve it. I ask for volunteers to play the suspects and witnesses and hand them their character sheets and their pieces of evidence. Each suspect and witness is introduced to the class. 

2 Witness interviews

Activity: Investigating

I bring up the witnesses and interview them one by one. The students will read their testimony off of their character sheet and use their piece of evidence to try to prove their story. 

3 Organizing the evidence

Activity: Investigating

As the witnesses are being interviewed, we will determine if their piece of evidence is a primary or secondary source. Each witness's piece of evidence will be put up on the board in the correct category after they are interviewed.

4 Suspect interviews

Activity: Investigating

Each suspect is interviewed and their pieces of evidence are put up on the board. 

5 Solve the murder

Activity: Investigating

The class works together to use the evidence to solve the murder. I will go over a review of each piece of evidence and whether it is a primary or secondary source. We will discuss the difference between the quality of the sources and how each person's relationship to the victim changes the quality of their information.