Mystery Genre Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Help students define the mystery genre and learn its characteristics and elements with this lesson plan. Students will watch an engaging video lesson, participate in discussions, and apply concepts to a fun activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define the mystery genre
  • list characteristics and elements of the mystery genre


1 hour


  • Board game 'Clue'

Key Vocabulary

  • Mystery genre
  • Detective or crime novels
  • Plot
  • Protagonist
  • Detective
  • Suspects
  • Foreshadowing
  • Alibi
  • Tropes
  • Suspense
  • Inference gaps
  • Hidden evidence
  • Red herring

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5

Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


NOTE: The night before this lesson, have students read a short mystery story such as Devil's Island for homework.

  • Engage students with the topic by allowing them to play 'Clue.' As they play, introduce the topic of mystery novels and ask students to share prior knowledge. Record on board.
  • After the game, preview vocabulary words, then start the lesson Mystery Genre: Definition, Characteristics & Elements.
  • Pause at 1:15. With students, define terms, then discuss:
    • What forms can the mystery genre take?
    • What else can the mystery genre be called?
    • What is the purpose of many mystery novels?
  • With students, draw a plot diagram (see related lesson below for details) outlining the literary elements of plot, insightful action, etc. for the story they read for homework.
  • Resume the lesson, pausing again at 2:20. Define terms used in this section, then identify how each of these elements was used in the story that students read for homework.
  • Play the Lesson Summary, have students complete the quiz, and answer any remaining questions.

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