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Third Grade Solves Holleman Elementary Mystery

Mystery Celebration Holleman Elementary third-grade students recently had a mystery on their hands. Who stole all of the pencil sharpeners? At the end of their Mystery Unit, as part of a Mystery Celebration, students had to work together to find the thief. Throughout the Mystery Unit, students learned how to read and analyze mystery books. As part of the reading and writing curriculum, each unit ends with a way to celebrate students for completing the unit. The idea for the celebration was introduced by Reading Coach Nicole Donaldson after learning about it through her professional learning network.

“We want to create engaging and memorable experiences to help celebrate the hard work students have been doing throughout their reading unit,” Donaldson said. “The third grade worked on a fiction reading unit that sent them on secret missions and allowed them to practice their close reading skills as detectives. What better way to recognize their new skills than to solve a mystery at their own school!”

Students were introduced to the mystery when their teachers announced that all pencil sharpeners were missing. They were given four suspects and through the process of elimination, students had to discover who was the culprit. The suspects were Principal Ashley Abke, Assistant Principal Michelle Sciba, Teacher Shannon Smith, and Donaldson. Students were randomly picked from each class to ask each suspect questions to narrow down the list. As questions were asked students filled a worksheet with their theories on why each person was innocent or guilty. The Mystery Celebration was led by Teacher Amanda Rosemond who portrayed the character of ‘Detective Rosemond’ to help kids through the mystery. Many students doubted Abke, Sciba, and Donaldson but agreed that Smith was innocent.

“This is something new and different that students can enjoy,” Abke said. “They get really into it and it is fun watching them ask questions and try to figureNicole Donaldson out who did it.”

At the end of the day, Donaldson revealed herself as the thief by returning the sharpeners to each class. Students were thrilled to have their predictions proven correct after many suspected Donaldson to be the culprit.

“I have had the honor of being a suspect two years in a row now with the missing pencil-sharpeners,” Donaldson said. “I'm not sure how long I can keep the secret going, but I hope the tradition continues with new suspects and missing items for each upcoming third-grade class.”