Friday, January 27, 2012

What Are We Doing Today? It's A Mystery!

Buenas Tardes Amigo,

I love the literature at the upper elementary level. There are a lot of great authors and a lot of great books. But I love the mystery genre just a little bit more because the introduction to the genre that I do is just a lot of fun.

I start by telling the class that we are here today to catch a murderer. This murderer killed a man in Mexico, and now has come to Kathmandu to steal Lincoln's beard. What's more, the murderer is partially identified in this song, Buenas Tades Amigo (by Ween):

(I realize this is the wrong album cover for the song. The actual album is "Chocolate and Cheese," but this cover is more appropriate to the song, and to the sensibilities of younger viewers)

 I split the song into four parts. At the end of each part each detective team has to guess who the murderer is. 

Part I

Buenas tardes amigo.

Hola, my good friend.

Cinco de Mayo's on Tuesday,
And I hoped we'd see each other again.

You killed my brother last winter.
You shot him three times in the back.
In the night I still hear mama weeping.
Oh mama still dresses in black.

Part II

I looked at every fiesta
For you I wanted to greet.
Maybe I'd sell you a chicken
With poison interlaced with the meat.

You... you look like my brother.
Mama loved him the best.
He was head honcho with the ladies.
Mama always said he was blessed.

Part III

The village all gathered around him.
They couldn't believe what they saw.
I said it was you that had killed him,
And that I'd find you and up stand the law.

The people of the village believed me.
Mama... she wanted revenge.
I told her that I'd see that she was honored.
I'd find you and put you to death.

Part IV

So now... now that I've found you

On this- such a joyous day!
I tell you it was me who killed him,
But the truth I'll never have to say.

Buenas tardes amigo.
Hola, my good friend.
Cinco de Mayo's on Tuesday,
And I hoped we'd see each other again.

Yes, I hoped we'd see each other again. 

By part 3, I usually have one or two teams guess correctly. Their reward is to skip the first clue of the manhunt, and go straight to the second. The next step then is to begin our manhunt. The goal is not only discover who among the faculty is the murderer / potential thief of Lincoln's beard, but each clue also has mystery vocabulary that the groups must collect. After the children search all over Lincoln School, jumping from one riddle to the next, we finally meet back up in class and discuss the vocabulary from the manhunt. The clues change from year to year, as do the suspects. Here are the clues from this year:

 Clue #1 (The music/multi-purpose room):

In this noisy space where some act like a goof,

It’s okay because it’s somewhat sound proof.

The walls have eyes! Or, more accurately, holes.

The next clue lays here… the first of your goals.

Clue #2 (The auditorium):

The next clue isn’t easy. It might not make sense.

But it’s there where you’ll find your evidence.

Where to find it? You ask. It’s in a fabulous place where we sit single file.

A place where we saw magic, story-telling, and Operation Smile.

Clue #3 (The I.T. Director):

Finally! A suspect to this mystery! No time to waste! None!

He’s new to school and speaks the Spanish tongue!

I’m afraid for my life if I tell the name of he.

I can only say that he’s head of I.T.

What’s I.T. you ask? I can’t rightly say.

Only that he keeps computer users at bay.

Find the room where he plots his evil scheme.

And whisper, “You’re my suspect!” in a voice not obscene.

Clue #4 (Lunch Area):

Message from the I.T. Director:

I have an alibi, you meddling sleuth!

Be a proper detective, not so uncouth.

Check out the place where you eat a meal.

There you’ll find I’m no big deal.

Clue #5 (Library, picture-book section):

It’s true that Mr. Aleman has an alibi.

At the time of the murder, he was with this guy. (I include a random picture).

 We were wrong detectives! And the reward for our daring,

Was to discover this mystery’s only red herring.

No matter. The trail is not cold. Onto the next clue.

Catching this murderer is long OVERDUE.

In this hallowed cavern where the worms find peace,

Where the researching and reading never cease,

The next clue resides in the little-ones’ room,

Find it! Before Lincoln’s beard’s doom!

Clue #6 (the roof):

The next clue will test your courage- it’s where the monkeys lie.

Where the floor is made of rubber, and the abandoned sandbox cries. 

The furniture is circle, and the wind is raw.

On clear days you see mountains. On gray days- the crows caw.

Clue #7 (Saraswati Statue):

Detectives! New evidence has now come to light,

That will surely help us in our dangerous plight.

I’ve looked at a list of new hires and where they’re from.

And found no one from Mexico. Not a soul! None!

But then I checked “Languages spoken” on each person's resume,

And there is a few others who speaks Spanish like Jose.

But to say a name now would not be best,

If our deductions were wrong again in this quest.

So instead of a name, I’ll give you the next clue.

Search behind and around the Saraswati statue.

Where is that? You ask. Between lunch and the building of books.

Find it quickly, I implore you. We must catch this crook! 

Clue #8 (My counterpart's husband):

Okay my brave detectives. Please do not cower.

The guilty one does not reside in a position of power.

He is new, he speaks Spanish, it can only be him,

The man who committed that murderous sin,

And he plans to steal Lincoln’s beard, then slip through the night,

But we’ll catch him before his theft and his flight.

The catch- he’s married! To one we all know.

Follow this map to the man with no soul.

Find this man! You needn’t go far.

Then say these words: “Guilty you are!”


You did it detectives! You followed the clues.

Without too much sweat, sore feet, or worn shoes.

You found the man who would steal Lincoln’s beard.

The the man the whole of Mexico feared. 

Now see how quickly… how speedy… how fast

You can hasten your report back to the class.

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