Mysteries A to Z
As parents, we are our children's primary teachers, which is why they ask us so many darn questions. The blurred, the obscured, the ambiguous fascinates children; their drive to discover answers is powerful. This is why mysterious books, movies, TV shows, magic tricks, and tales by the campfire hold kids rooted to their seats while their mental wheels turn to find out what's behind the curtain.
So, as we guide our children through life's mystery, together, look up mystery in a dictionary or thesaurus and find out all the synonyms that describe it, such as secret, puzzle, problem, twister, whodunit, and thriller. Where do the synonyms lead you in terms of activities you can try? An effort to learn the secrets of Grandma or Grandpa's childhood, a math problem that holds a complex answer, a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand pieces that must be assembled. All of these endeavors exercise the mind and engage the imagination.
Among the finest games that tickle a child's early interest in mystery is I Spy. The basic premise involves looking for objects in complex scenes and the benefits are great for a young mind. Today, I Spy offers picture books, board games, and amazing CD-ROMs to tantalize and reward the finest junior detectives out there.
- I Spy: An Alphabet in Art (Ages 5-8 Years)
- I Spy Fantasy (Ages 6-10 Years)
- I Spy Junior: Puppet Playhouse (Ages 3-5 Years)
- I Spy Mystery (Ages 6-10 Years)
- I Spy School Days (Ages 5-9 Years)
- I Spy Spooky Mansion Deluxe (Software, Ages 6-10 Years)
- I Spy Spooky Mansion (DVD Game, Ages 6 & Up)
- I Spy Treasure Hunt (Ages 6-10 Years)
- I Spy Bingo (Ages 4 & Up)
- I Spy In Common Game (Ages 5 & Up)
- I Spy Memory Game (Ages 4-9 Years)
- I Spy Word Scramble (Ages 7-12 Years)
The Harry Potter books are magical for the nine and older set (though some younger children can be read the earlier volumes, with careful editing when the story gets too frightening). However, just going through the library or bookstore for books that contain the word mystery can be a fun quest. You can find contemporary favorites, including The A to Z Mysteries, by Ron Roy and John Steven Gurney; Two-Minute Mysteries, by Donald J. Sobol, and Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery, by John Feinstein. More classic mysteries range from the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series to the timeless standards about Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Generation X parents might be uniquely suited to appreciate the cartoon detective work of the Scooby-Doo characters, particularly when Scooby and the gang hit the road in their Mystery Machine van. DVDs are aplenty for the series, such as Scooby Doo's Greatest Mysteries, which is suitable for kids ages 5 and up. For young children, try Go Diego Go!: Underwater Mystery. For the DVDs of big-screen movies that feature kids solving the mysteries, you might want to sample Young Sherlock Holmes (which skews for the older kids) and Harriet the Spy.
Additional delight can be found online at http://kids.mysterynet.com/, which presents games, magic tricks, and original mysteries written by kids. For that matter, one of the best activities is to create your own tales with your children. Start with a kid character who is the hero and figure out what mystery he/she must solve. You can even title each yarn, "The Mystery of the ... ," where you fill in the blank.
A word, especially one as rich as mystery, can lead to so many surprising opportunities to teach and entertain a child. The next time your son or daughter asks what a word means, join them in the detective work to uncover all it has to offer.
Gregory Keer is a writer, teacher, and father of three boys. He can be reached at www.familymanonline.com.
Was is Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory? What does that secret code mean? What lurks inside your DNA? Mysteries abound for curious minds.