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.



Alternate Unit 5

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students 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 to them or read independently. 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 instead 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 previous units 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

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

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

Reading Focus Areas

  • To understand why characters respond to events in a certain way, readers notice a character’s perspective.

  • To understand what happens and why it happens in a mystery, readers connect earlier parts of the text to later parts.

Writing Focus Areas

Narrative 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.



MVP bullpen clumsy clue crime detective declared 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 5, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

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.

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.)

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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