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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Discover and Solve an Ecological Mystery

Project and Problem Based  Eco Mystery Unit.

How can you inspire kids—of all ages—to embark on a lifelong adventure that will motivate them to become wise stewards of nature? In my presentation to Mrs. Geri Evan's fourth grade students at Bluff Park Elementary School, I began by inviting kids to hunt for ecological mysteries in their outdoor classroom.

Monarch Butterflies Kids make connections
DISCOVER AND SOLVE AN ECOLOGICAL MYSTERY

Eco Connections _0012
MAKE ECO MYSTERY CONNECTIONS

1.
Make Connections: 
To get started—to get creative juices flowing—I dress up as Mrs. Mariposa, a character in
The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (Book 6 of the eco mystery series). I ask, “Can you figure out the connection between monarch butterflies and this mask?”
Hands shoot up, and students eagerly share their connections:

*The mask has yellow and orange flowers on it that monarch butterflies like.
*The mask has butterflies on it.
  • The mask celebrates the Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos.

“Bingo!” I say. “Now, can you think of a
connection between the Day of the Dead and monarch butterflies?”
We keep drilling down. Usually, students make the
connection between the monarch butterfly migrations from North America to Mexico and back. 

Figuring it out eco mystery
FIGURING OUT ECO MYSTERIES
2. Find out What is Harming the Species.
Next, I ask, “Do you know if the monarch butterflies are being harmed in some way?”
Students eagerly came up with speculations to
solve the ecological mystery. Rather than solve it for them, I encourage them to read The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries to discover the answer for themselves. In other words, to Become Eco Detectives.

Monarch eco mystery reading pg
PLAYING READING FROM THE ADVENTURES OF THE SIZZLING SIX

Role playing eco mysteries
ACTING OUT A SCENE FROM THE ECO MYSTERY SERIES

3. Find out How You can Help Save a Species. Take Action! 

Again, I encourage them to read
Monarch Mysteries in order to discover the answer for themselves.
In conclusion, I encourage students to find ways to help save monarch butterflies. 
I share other examples from my
eco mystery series, and encourage them to read at them.

4. Outdoor Classroom Investigation
To followup, students should spend time in the outdoors to find an ecological mysteries. Using their five senses, they should ask questions—what, why, how. And who is harming that species—in other words making connections
.  Example: What is this spider doing? Why is the spider making a web? What could harm this particular spider: pollution of the air, the water? Another species that eats it (a predator)? Human activity (using pesticides, cutting down trees? Disappearance of its source of food? 

5. Do the Research to Answer the Questions. Use the Internet, read fiction and non fiction books, conduct interviews. Take pictures, make drawings, make notes in your journal, make videos.

6. Write An Ecological Mystery. Weave what you have discovered into an exciting adventure story in which the characters have to solve an ecological mystery to save a species.
7. Enter the Eco Mystery Contest.

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