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A Mystery Message
By Lois Lewis

Grade Level: 3-6

Story Preview: An old box contains a century-old mystery message!

Roles: Narrators 1-3, Mrs. Diaz, Dr. Harold Brown, Mr. Wade, city workers Betty and Tom, Erica, Greg, Maria, and Tony, all students

Setting: Present day; a school in a small city

Theme: 100th day of school


  • presentation: demonstration or lecture before an audience
  • professor: university or college teacher
  • filmmaker: person who creates movies
  • time capsule: a container for saving items from the past that will be opened at a future time
  • fountain pen: a writing instrument that is filled with ink from an outside source or container

Additional Resources

* Want to construct a time capsule with your students? The lesson How to Create a Time Capsule provides detailed instruction for making one, and offers suggestions for items that might be included in the container. Kids Domain's Time Capsule craft activity is an easy project for younger students.

* For more fun with codes, try Send Secret Messages Using Codes and Ciphers from National Geographic Kids. This site offers numerous activities in which students can create and decipher coded messages.

Props: (Optional) classroom desks, teacher-provided or student-decorated box (cardboard or other available material), glass jar, sheet of notebook or writing paper, pencil, fountain pen, several plastic or student-made "hard hats" for city workers

Follow-Up Questions:

  • Why is this year an important year for Elm Street School?
  • What two careers did Dr. Brown have?
  • What was Dr. Brown's connection to the school?
  • How did the city workers find the box?
  • What was the box?
  • What steps did the students take to figure out what the message said?

Follow-Up Activity:Have students work in small groups or individually to decode the message. Encourage them to use the clues in the play to crack the code. You might want to give students a time limit for the activity.

Mystery Code Answer Key: When students match the numbers with letters of the alphabet, the code should look like this:
When unscrambled, the message should read:

Additional Notes: The "100" theme in this play could supplement plans you might have for recognizing the 100th day of school. Check out Education World's Celebrate the 100th Day of School page for a host of activities, ideas, and links for celebrating that special day.

Click here for a printable script.

Article by Lois Lewis
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World