Activity Overview

Taking the time to create a visual representation helps students remember literary concepts. Use storyboards to help them identify and remember important elements of the mystery genre. Students should depict a scene that contains a common mystery element and explain their depiction in the text box below. Ask students to provide examples from a variety of different mystery elements (such as foreshadowing, red herrings, and clues) or restrict the storyboard to a single element (such as three instances of foreshadowing).

Example Elements of Mystery in The Westing Game

Main Character as Detective

Although all the sixteen heirs are important to the story, Turtle takes on the role of protagonist. All the heirs attempt to win Westing’s game, but the novel focuses heavily on Turtle, the youngest and most endearing character. In the end, Turtle’s precocious wit enables her to solve the mystery that none of the adult heirs could decipher.


Westing provides his heirs (and the reader) with a variety of clues. The official clues that each pair receives are certainly important, but the most helpful clues might be in Westing’s newspaper obituary!


Foreshadowing in the novel includes Westing's will, his obituary, and many comments from the omniscient narrator. From the very beginning, the smoke rising from the chimney of the Westing house is foreshadowing that the long-absent Westing will make an appearance in the lives of the Sunset Tower residents.

Red Herring

The lyrics to “America the Beautiful” and the missing letters spelling “Berthe Erica Crow” are all an elaborate red herring. This puzzle distracts from the real object of the Westing game, which is to identify Westing’s fourth identity. This red herring prevents the heirs from solving the mystery too quickly, providing them with the time to build relationships and improve their lives.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard illustrating different elements of mystery in The Westing Game.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Identify elements of mystery used in the novel.
  3. Describe how the elements contribute to the story.
  4. Illustrate each example with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/3] Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/5] Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/3] Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/5] Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/3] Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision

More Storyboard That Activities

The Westing Game

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