Solving Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-up

Students explore the characteristics of a mystery, and how an author uses those characteristics to develop the plot, while reading about the American pastime of baseball in the text The Fenway Foul-Up.



Unit 6

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, 2nd graders explore the genre of mystery—in conjunction with exploring the American pastime of baseball—by reading the mentor text The Fenway Foul-Up. Over the course of the unit, students will be challenged to think about and notice the characteristics of a mystery and how an author uses the characteristics of mystery to develop the plot. Students will also be challenged to think about what makes a good detective and how much information detectives need before they can be confident enough in their decisions to avoid unfairly or unjustly accusing someone of committing a crime. Students will also discover that being a good detective involves teamwork; teamwork makes everything easier because people are able to play off of each other’s strengths and differing perspectives. While the main focus of this unit is on understanding the mystery genre, students will also be learning a great deal about baseball and content-specific vocabulary associated with baseball.

At this point in the year, it is assumed that students are inquisitive consumers of a text and are able to identify and describe characters and plot events in a text Read Aloud  or silently. Therefore, this unit focuses on pushing students to describe the overall structure of a story, particularly identifying and explaining how the characteristics of a mystery support the plot of a story. Students will also be pushed to go beyond just describing characters and will instead be pushed to explain how characters respond to major events and challenges, and how different characters have different perspectives on events and why. If there are other spiraling skills from Units 1 through 5 that have not been mastered, they should continue to be included in daily lessons to ensure that students are fully able to access and comprehend the text.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.

Essential Questions

  • What makes a good detective?
  • What makes a good team?

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple and complex sentences
  • Write different types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations, and commands)

Throughout the year, students have focused on a variety of sentence-level writing strategies that have focused on making their sentences stronger and clearer. In this unit, students will practice using a variety of sentence types, in particular to help them improve their topic and concluding sentences in a paragraph. Practicing different sentence types enables students to vary their sentence structure when writing, as well as reinforcing the use of correct punctuation as they write.

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Generating a topic sentence from given details written as key words and phrases, using the sentence-type strategy.

Students have had practice brainstorming details for a given topic sentence and filling in a Single Paragraph Outline, as well as distinguishing a topic sentence from given details. Students will use their new knowledge of sentence types to help them generate a strong topic and concluding sentences when writing their newspaper articles.

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm and outline before writing.
  • Develop a focused narrative that ends with a cliffhanger that explains the mystery and makes the reader want to keep reading.
  • Use descriptive language to show, not tell, character feelings and traits.

At the end of the unit, students will use their knowledge of a mystery story to write their own mystery. They will brainstorm and outline their story, and then write a first chapter that introduces the characters, setting, and problem. When describing characters, they will use descriptive language to show and not tell how a character is feeling and what they are like. Additionally, students will include a “cliffhanger” to build suspense and encourage the reader to keep reading.

Foundational Skills

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the text.
  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.

Like in the two previous units, the main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In the core text, the character dialogue reveals a lot about a character’s motivation, feelings, and perspective; therefore, a large focus of this unit should be on including opportunities for students to practice rereading dialogue with intonation, expression, and volume to match interpretation of the passage.



MVP bullpen clumsy clue crime declared detective decoy dugout eavesdrop expert grand slam home run hustle interrupted infield motive mumbled obvious replica red herring rivalry rummage scamper shifty sifted snooped squinted startled stash suspicious suspects vanish witness

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 6, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • Explain that mystery stories normally include one of the following:
    • A problem that needs to be solved
    • An event that cannot be explained
    • A secret
    • Something that is lost or missing
    • A crime that has been committed
  • Explain that mystery stories are full of clues that can help the reader and the detective solve the mystery. They can be things people say or do, or objects that they find that provide important information.
  • Traditional mysteries include the following characters:
    • Suspects: Characters who are believed to have committed the crime; must have a strong motive to do so
    • Detectives: Characters trying to solve the mystery
    • Witnesses: Characters who saw the crime being committed
  • Traditional mysteries include the following characteristics:
    • Straightforward clues about the crime
    • Hidden evidence (essential details presented in a way that may seem unimportant)
    • Inference gaps: Mysteries never tell the full story! Readers must notice the gaps in the story and try to fill in the details by connecting the details.
    • Red herring: A clue that leads the reader to the wrong suspect
  • A reader’s job is to put the pieces of the puzzle together on their own and try to solve the mystery. To do this, readers must notice the various forms of evidence and evaluate them; they must also notice inference gaps and try to fill them.
  • Explain the rules and components of the game of baseball. (See baseball-specific vocabulary as a guide for which rules and components to teach students.)

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 5

Cinderella Around the World