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The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Westing Game Include:

Ellen Raskin’s 1978 novel The Westing Game remains quite popular with today’s students. As the book’s characters race to inherit Westing’s estate by figuring out his murderer, students are swept up by the engaging mystery. Readers discover the clues along with the novel’s quirky characters, and are thus given an equal opportunity to solve the mystery themselves. This Newbery winner is a great way to teach young readers about plot structure, point of view, and the elements of mystery.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Mystery

The most compelling aspect of The Westing Game is its mystery: who killed Sam Westing and why were all the heirs lured to Sunset Towers? The thrill of solving the crime keeps students reading and often makes them attentive to small details and clues. For this reason, The Westing Game can be an effective novel with which to teach about the mystery genre. Pre-teaching common mystery elements from the list below will help students identify them as they appear in the novel.


Elements of Mystery

  • Mysterious death or crime to be solved
  • Main character who is a detective and sorts out the mystery
  • Group of suspects and their motives that must be weighed and evaluated
  • Clues
  • Hidden evidence
  • Suspense
  • Foreshadowing
  • Red herrings

Essential Questions for The Westing Game

  1. How do friendships improve a person’s life?
  2. How does Westing’s game end up helping the heirs?
  3. Is Sam Westing a good person?
  4. What does it mean to make amends? Why is this important?
  5. How important is money to a person’s happiness?
  6. What is more important to the Westing heirs: friendship or money?

The Westing Game Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Westing Game Characters

The trickiest part of The Westing Game is its long list of characters. Students may struggle with the many names and identities. Providing activities to reinforce character understanding will be helpful. As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters.


The Westing Game Heirs

  • Turtle Wexler
  • Jake Wexler
  • Grace Wexler
  • Angela Wexler
  • Doug Hoo
  • Sun Lin Hoo
  • James Shin Hoo
  • Sandy McSouthers
  • Judge J. J. Ford
  • Theo Theodorakis
  • Chris Theodorakis
  • Sydelle Pulaski
  • Otis Amber
  • Berthe Erica Crow
  • Flora Baumbach
  • Dr. Denton Deere

The Westing Heirs Chart
Create your own at Storyboard That TURTLE WEXLER JAKE WEXLER GRACE WEXLER ANGELA WEXLER DOUG HOO SUN LIN HOO JAMES SHIN HOO SANDY MCSOUTHERS JUDGE J. J. FORD THEO THEODORAKIS CHRIS THEODORAKIS SYDELLE PULASKI OTIS AMBER BERTHE ERICA CROW FLORA BAUMBACH DR. DENTON DEERE Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: Clues given by Westing: Age and physical description: Connection to Sam Westing: Personality: