Cape Breton’s Magazine Curriculum Units 

Grade 5/6/7

Topic: Folklore/Mystery

Focus: Literacy and the Writing Process

GCO 8 Students will be expected to use writing and other forms of representation to explore, clarify, and reflect on their thoughts and feelings, experiences and learning; and to use their imaginations.

Lesson Plan:

Magazine Volume Issues: 56

Pages 9-16

Ghost Stories Told by Students at the former

St. Joseph’s Elementary

Front Loading Activity:

Mystery stories make popular reading for elementary-age students; teachers can take advantage of this interest to help students engage in a genre study. This lesson teaches students about plot structure, character, and setting. Students identify the characteristics of folklore/mystery writing in class discussions, outline a mystery story using a graphic organizer, write and revise a mystery story on their own, and edit each other's work. Students are then given opportunities to share their mysteries and to evaluate how clues are laid out to come to conclusions.

Teachers can use the stories found in the Cape Breton’s Magazine Issue number 56 as a starting point to use with their students. Have students read these short stories on their own, with the entire class or as a jigsaw activity. (See strategy appendix)



The location where the mystery takes place.


The plot is the story of the mystery. Usually there is:

A problem or puzzle to solve

Something that is missing

A secret

An event that is not explained

Clues are hints that help the detectives and reader solve the mystery.

They can be things people say or do or objects that are found.

Plot Clues

Most mystery plots use suspense. This means that the reader does not

know the solution while he or she is reading the mystery.

Distractions are things that lead an investigator off the path, including

clues that do not add up to a solution but make the search longer.


Structure refers to the way the story is set up. Most mysteries have a

structure like this:

Introduction: learn about the problem, meet characters

Body of story: someone is working to solve the mystery

Conclusion: mystery is solved

To Do

Suspects are characters who may have caused the problem the mystery is

trying to solve. Detectives or investigators try to solve the mystery.




Alibi: An excuse that an accused person uses to show that he or she was not at

the scene of the crime

Breakthrough: A discovery that helps solve the crime

Clue: A fact or object that gives information toward solving the crime

Crime: An action that breaks the law

Deduction: Drawing a conclusion

Detective: An investigator looking for and gathering clues

Evidence: A thing or statement that helps to prove who committed the crime

Hunch: A guess or feeling not based on facts

Motive: A reason that a person does something — can include anger, hatred, love, or greed

Mystery: Something that is unknown

Red herring: A false clue that throws the investigator off track

Sleuth: An investigator

Suspect: Person who has a motive to have committed a crime

Witness: Person who has knowledge about a crime



Place a check next to each box in the self-checker after the organizer has been filled in.

This is to double check to be sure each element has been included.









Set up the beginning of your mystery.

Decide on a crime and who has done it.

Who are the suspects (characters)?

Who will work to solve it?

How do the other characters respond to the crime?

Where did the crime take place?

List the clues. Who reveals them? Who discovers them?

What are the distractions for the person trying to solve the mystery?

List the order of the plot — when does each clue or distraction appear?

What is the conclusion of the mystery?



Author’s name:___________________________________

Peer editor’s name: __________________Date:_______________

It’s time for you to play detective with your partner’s story. Read the story through once, checking off the mystery elements on the left as you go. Then read the story a second time and record the evidence (examples) of these elements on the right. Once you are done, brainstorm with your partner to figure out how he or she could make the story better.

Mystery Elements

Place a check next to each characteristic as you locate it in your partner’s story.


Give examples of each mystery element





List the characters in the story and what their roles are:


Where the story takes place

List the ways the writer describes the setting(s):


Action that keeps the reader searching to solve the mystery

Explain what is happening / the mystery that you are trying to solve:


Hints that help the reader and detective solve the mystery

Identify the clues given in the story:


Clues that throw the reader off of the trail

Name any clues that threw you off the trail:


The solution to the mystery

Summarize the ending:


Extension Activity:

There are many ghost, treasure hunting and other strange stories throughout Cape Breton’s Magazine. We would encourage the students to hunt for these stories using the search tool or the guide/index to the magazine.

This activity could be further extended into a scavenger hunt which could be shared amongst the class after researching their findings.

Here is a further resource to use in your classrooms as a starting point:

“The Cape Breton Book of the Night- Tales of Tenderness and Terror”

Edited by Ronald Caplan

Teacher Info:

The following Issues contain such story topics:

Issue #’s- 9- 12-51 (forerunners)

Issue #’s- 17-57 (treasures)

Issue #’s- 1-22-30 (sorcery)

Issue #’s- 5 (evil eye)

Issue #’s- 10-47-48-55-59-61-84(supernatural)

Jigsaw Appendix

What is Jigsaw?

Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy that enables each student of a “home” group to specialize in one aspect of a learning unit. Students meet with members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect, and after mastering the material, return to the “home” group and teach the material to their group members.

Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. If each student's part is essential, then each student is essential. That is what makes the Jigsaw instructional strategy so effective.

What is its purpose?

Jigsaw learning allows students to be introduced to material and yet maintain a high level of personal responsibility.

The purpose of Jigsaw is to develop teamwork and cooperative learning skills within all students. In addition it helps develop a depth of knowledge not possible if the students were to try and learn all of the material on their own. Finally, because students are required to present their findings to the home group, Jigsaw learning will often disclose a student’s own understanding of a concept as well as reveal any misunderstandings.

How can I do it?

In its simplest form, the Jigsaw instructional strategy is when:

1. Each student receives a portion of the materials to be introduced;
2. Students leave their "home" groups and meet in "expert" groups;
3. Expert groups discuss the material and brainstorm ways in which to present their understandings to the other members of their “home” group;
4. The experts return to their “home” groups to teach their portion of the materials and to learn from the other members of their “home” group

In more detail, and written from a teacher’s perspective, to conduct a Jigsaw in your classroom:

1. Assign students to “home” teams of 4 or 5 students (generally their regular cooperative learning teams). Have students number off within their teams.
2. Assign study topics to “home” team members by giving them an assignment sheet or by listing their numbers and corresponding roles on the board.
3. Have students move to “expert” groups where everyone in the group has the same topic as themselves.
4. Students work with members of their “expert” group to read about and/or research their topic. They prepare a short presentation and decide how they will teach their topic to their “home” team. You may want students to prepare mini-posters while in their “expert” Groups. These posters can contain important facts, information, and diagrams related to the study topic.
5. Students return to their “home” teams and take turns teaching their team members the material. I find it helpful to have team members take notes or record the information in their journals in some way. You may want them to complete a graphic organizer or chart with the new information.
6. Involve the class in a whole-group review of all the content you expect them to master on the assessment. Administer an individual assessment to arrive at individual grades.