Today I am having my first ever guest blog post! I am so excited to have my friend Jenn from Books and Bytes join us to discuss Mystery Skype and how she has used it with kindergarten students. I have already learned so much from Jenn while working with her these past few months, and I am so glad she has agreed to share her knowledge on my blog!
I was fortunate enough to meet Amanda of Creative Kindergarten in September, when I moved to her school as the new Teacher-Librarian. Each week I enjoy sharing my love of literacy and technology with four Kindergarten classes, especially her amazing students! We both share a love of technology, and creating exciting opportunities for our students. Everyday I am inspired by her creativity and proficiency with technology, so I was happy I could share something new with her!
So you might be thinking, “I know what Skype is, but what is Mystery Skype?” Mystery Skype is a an interactive questioning game between two classes using Skype as a connection tool. The original version includes two classes going back and forth asking questions (with yes and no answers) to try and guess where each other are located around the world.
Mystery Skype in Kindergarten
The original version has branched out into Mystery Skype and Mystery Number, which are both perfect for our younger learners. Mystery Animal – each class picks a “secret” animal, and classes go back and forth asking questions about habitat, appearance, abilities, etc. with yes or no answers. Mystery Number – each class picks a number between 1 and 20, 1 and 50, etc. and classes go back and forth asking questions.
Before you’re ready to Skype, I’ve found it extremely helpful to practice with my students. A questioning activity like this is usually new for Kindergarten students, and they need some time to learn and refine these skills. Here are some ideas:
- Brainstorm a list of questioning words that lead to yes and no answers
- Have them practice guessing a secret animal or number that you pick
- Divide the class in half to play against each other, or practice in small groups
- Practice with another Kindergarten class
Click below to access Mystery Skype Toolkits from my TPT store. I created these resources to enhance sessions, and ensure things go as smoothly as possible!
Next you need to set up a standard Skype account. (Skype for Business doesn’t work for all Skype opportunities) If you already have one for personal use, I suggest setting up a new one to use just for school use. After you’ve done that, you can create a free account in the Microsoft Educator Community. In this online portal, you can find Mystery Skype connections around the world, and other amazing Virtual Field Trips and Skype lessons. If you’re not ready to find partners in the Community, you can find Mystery Skype partners through Facebook groups, and especially on Twitter. Simply search #mysteryskype or #mysteryanimal and you can find matches, or create a tweet of your own with these hashtags. Before your first session, test your audio and video to make sure things will go smoothly! I’ve learned this lesson the hard way!
I have had so much fun introducing Amanda and her students to Mystery Animal and Mystery Number so far this year, and they even participated in the annual global “Skype-a-thon” in November! We have also enjoyed playing Mystery Animal with an English Kindergarten class in South Korea, by leaving video message clues to compensate for the opposite time difference. This was my first experience with using Skype video messages, and the students and I loved the anticipation of hearing back from our new friends from across the world.
Mystery Skype in all its versions is an incredibly fun way to practice Literacy and Math skills, learn new things, connect with students around the world, and have fun! After animal and number, why not try out Mystery colour, letter, sport, community helper…the list is never ending! When you’re ready to go, reach out via Twitter or email to set up a session with one of our classes. We’re always excited to meet new friends!
@Jenn_Montgomery * firstname.lastname@example.org * Books and Bytes