Reading between the lines… putting clues together to solve a mystery… whatever you may call it, I’m sure you will agree, students need a lot of practice with inferring! A great mentor text to use for this very skill is The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg! The Stranger is the story of a mystery man who stays with the Baileys after he was accidentally hit by Farmer Bailey’s truck. The accident has caused him to lose his memory. While he stays with the Baileys, very strange things are happening with the weather… it doesn’t seem like fall will ever come! Finally, the stranger seems to remember who he is, and with his departure, cold air comes in and green leaves turn red and gold!
Tell students that as you read the book, The Stranger, they are going to try to solve a mystery. A man loses his memory and you are going to try to figure out who he is!
Working with the Text
Use this freebie to work with the text!
I suggest reading the book first. Some of the “clues” won’t be obvious right away on the first read, but after you’ve read the book, you can go back through the book and see if there is anything that helps prove his identity. This also helps reaffirm to students the importance of returning to the text to find evidence! (You might even want to read the book one day, and do the activity the next day since it requires a re-read.)
As you re-read, have students give you a signal (maybe thumbs up or snapping) when they hear something that seems like it could be a clue to identifying the stranger’s identity. Of course, you will want to start off the activity by doing a think-aloud or two…
Mrs. Bailey stopped the doctor as he left the house. He’d forgotten his thermometer. “Oh, you can throw that out,” he answered. “It’s broken, the mercury is stuck at the bottom.” Oh! That seems important! I know that the mercury in a thermometer rises with heat but if it’s stuck at the bottom, that must mean it’s very cold. That must mean that the stranger’s temperature is very cold!
He watched Katy take a spoonful of soup and blow gently across it. Then he did exactly the same. Mrs. Bailey shivered. “Brrr,” she said. “There’s a draft in here tonight.” Another clue about the stranger being cold! He blew on his soup, and it seems that when Mrs. Bailey felt his breath, it made her cold!
Complete the activity during the second read to show the evidence you find to prove the stranger’s identity:
Next Step Options…
Of course, I can’t pass up an opportunity to use an awesome text for a mentor sentence!! (Not familiar with mentor sentences? Click here to read more about them!) You can grab this FREE bonus mentor sentence lesson to go along with your inferring activity!