Saturday, October 18, 2014

Drawing Conclusions: CSI Style!


This week, we did one of my favorite activities of all time with the 2nd graders on my campus.  The skill for this week in reading was drawing conclusions, so a few of the 2nd grade teachers asked me to help them come up with a CSI style mystery for students to solve by drawing conclusions.  So, we teamed up with our wonderful, go-with-the-flow, music teacher, Mrs. Brassard, and created a fun mystery for our students to solve.  

Making our Case
First, we had to come up with a case.  Since Mrs. Brassard is currently busy getting ready for the 2nd grade choir concert next week, we decided to make our case revolve around that.  Here was our case:
"Mrs. Brassard was getting ready for her upcoming concert, "Hats the Musical."  All of the kids were singing their songs all the time, and all they could talk about was, "Mrs. Brassard, Mrs. Brassard, Mrs. Brassard!"  Someone on campus (me - the librarian) didn't like that Mrs. Brassard was getting all of the attention.  In an act of jealousy, they poured black paint all over her sign!  Help Mrs. Brassard find out who ruined her sign.  Follow the clues that lead back to the jealous vandal, and solve The Case of the Black Paint Mystery!"

Creating the Crime Scene
Next, we had to make the crime scene.  We spilled black "paint" (really just black paper) on her beautiful sign and marked it off with very authentic looking CSI crime scene tape (although regular caution tape would work just fine).  

Mrs. Brassard is such a good sport that she also agreed to film a short video of herself discovering the sign and pleading with the students to use the clues and help her solve the case (in true "Blues Clues" fashion, I might add...haha). Click the image below to view the video.

Creating Clues/Evidence
Next, we had to come up with evidence/clues to give our students to help them solve the mystery.  Because these are 2nd graders, we couldn't make them too easy or too difficult.  Here's what we came up with:
Black footsteps that led down the hall in the direction of the library (I wore high heels on this day to hopefully help students eliminate the male suspects on campus).

Black paint and a "Read" apron stashed on a shelf in the hallway leading to the library.

An earring (that I wear all the time) and a strand of long brown hair found on the floor in the hallway leading to the library.

Black paint found in the girls' bathroom in the hallway leading to the library (thus eliminating all male suspects - hopefully).

Our final piece of evidence was a black thumbprint found on a library book on a shelf right outside the library.
Once we took photos of all of the evidence, I uploaded the photos to Flickr and created a QR code for each photo.  Then, we inserted the QR codes into a cool, CSI-style, caution tape task card, along with a written clue.  Here's an example:
Making Evidence Files
After making all of the clue cards, we placed them into CSI-style evidence files to distribute to student groups.

Solving the Crime
Then, we passed out an iPad to each group, reviewed how to use QR codes, and discussed the case with students.  And boy, oh boy, is Mrs. Brassard a good actress because the kids believed this case was very real (corny as it was)!!  

First, they scanned a QR code to watch her video, and afterward, they read the case description on the back of the card.  Next, students read each clue card and scanned the QR code to view the photos of the evidence.  The groups had to work together to draw conclusions and solve the crime.  They recorded their evidence, possible suspects, and final verdict on their Evidence Recording Sheet, and then reported it to the class at the end of the lesson.
I wish we could show you the video of the students at the end solving the mystery because it truly is priceless.  One little girl wanted to go tell Mrs. Brassard right that minute!  But, since we can't share it, here are a few photos of the kids enjoying the activity.

The girl in the green at the front of the class was literally jumping up and down, flailing her arms about, begging to go tell Mrs. Brassard.  SO FUNNY!!

If you're interested in doing a CSI style activity in your class, we did upload the products we used to complete this activity to our TpT store.  It truly was so much fun that we're planning to solve another mystery every time our skill in reading for the week is drawing conclusions.  The kids loved it so much that our math teachers are even brainstorming creative ways to use the activity in their math classes, too.  The sky's really the limit with this one.  Yes, it does practice drawing conclusions, but it uses higher order thinking skills and is so versatile!  It can be used in numerous grade levels and in any subject area.  Determining the difficulty level and subject area are up to you.  

Your crime could be a mystery involving someone on your campus like ours or even a celebrity students easily recognize so that they're instantly engaged in the activity; it could also involve a case where students are given clues to discover a certain number, letter, vocabulary word, mathematical concept, historical figure/event, scientific term, etc.  Be as creative as you want to be! 

If you do a CSI style activity in your class, we'd love to hear your ideas, and we hope your students enjoy it as much as ours did! :)

Watson Works



  1. How many classroom iPads did you have to complete this activity?

    1. Hi Hannah!

      We divided the kids into groups of 4-5 and used 1 iPad per group, so we used 5 iPads all together. Let us know if you have any other questions! :)


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