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April 28

Author Lois Duncan was born on this date in 1934.

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Author Lois Duncan was born on this date in 1934.

Grades 3 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Lois Duncan is a popular author of young adult mysteries. Duncan received the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, jointly sponsored by the School Library Journal and the Young Adult Library Services Association, for her lifetime contributions to the field of young adult literature.




Share with students some of the mysteries from Ken Weber's Five Minute Mysteries series and test their sleuthing abilities. After students have had a chance to solve a handful of mysteries (the solutions are in the back of the books), ask them to brainstorm the critical attributes of a good mystery. What elements do mysteries share? What do authors need to do to write a compelling mystery for readers?

Once the class has completed this part of the activity, place them in small groups and ask them to compose some short mysteries themselves. They can plan their stories using the interactive Mystery Cube. Groups can then exchange and attempt to solve one another's mysteries. The mysteries from each group can also be compiled and shared with other classes as well.



  • Lois Duncan

    Duncan's homepage is periodically updated with information about her life, her family, and her books. Teacher Guides, designed by Duncan, are also included for each of her books.


  • The Deep Bottom Drawer: An Interview with Lois Duncan

    In this interview, Duncan discusses her fiction and nonfiction and her influences.


  • Kids Mysteries

    MysteryNet's Kids Mysteries features mysteries to solve, scary stories, and magic tricks for kids.


  • Mystery Writing with Joan Lowery Nixon

    This online workshop helps students learn to write original mysteries. Included are writing tips, challenges designed to help students develop skills, and detailed revision guidelines.



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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

What's in a Mystery? Exploring and Identifying Mystery Elements

Students identify the characteristics of mystery writing, outline a mystery story using a graphic organizer, write and revise their own mystery story, edit each other's work, and share their mysteries.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Expository Escapade—Detective's Handbook

Students create a Detective's Handbook based on a detective mystery they have read. The handbooks include expository and descriptive writing, as well as a letter.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Everyone Loves a Mystery: A Genre Study

Students track the elements of mystery stories through Directed Learning-Thinking Activities, story maps, and puzzles. Then they offer clues for other readers as they plan and write original mystery stories.


Grades   5 – 9  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick: Using Illustrations to Guide Writing

Students use illustrations from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a guide to write mysteries
and then present their stories to the class for students to discuss to which illustration each
story corresponds.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach

Students explore multiple genres through genre studies. They record evidence of genre characteristics on bookmarks as they read, and finish by giving a book review for their classmates.