Mystery Skype: Inject Some Excitement Into Your Book Club!

Mystery Skypes are one of my favourite things to do. I’ve been hosting them off and on in the school library I manage for a few years now.

If you haven’t tried a Mystery Skype before, or you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, settle in! They are fun, easy and an awesome way to bring some excitement to your classroom, library or book club.

How to start a Mystery Skype:

Reach out via social media. If you’re in an education setting, follow #tlchat #edchat #libchat or of course #mysteryskype. There are tons of teachers and librarians out there that love to take part in these.

Mystery Skype

The purpose of a Mystery Skype is to have your group guess where in the world the other group is and vice versa using only “Yes” or “No” questions.

For example, last week I had 30 eleven year old students here in London, UK trying find where a group of other eleven year olds and their teacher were.

Using iPads and good old fashioned atlases, the students worked together to figure out their location.

Once we narrowed it down to the U.S.A our students were asking questions like “Does your state start with a vowel” “Do you border Canada?” and “Does your state flag have an animal on it?”

They in turn were asking us questions like “Are you near the New Forest?” “Do you border the North Sea?” and are you “South of London?” which were all great questions.

Mystery Skype

It turns out they were near Lancaster, Pennsylvania although we only guessed the correct state, not the actual city.

They in turn guessed Brighton and other places near us but not exactly where we were, which is the London Borough of Sutton.

Their group had the amazing idea (that I will be stealing) of holding up cards in between questions. These cards said things like “Your Turn” and “Our Turn” and “Yes” & “No” and also “Please Wait”. These cards are the perfect remedy for any sound quality issues that can often be accompanied from using Skype.

When the event was over, we talked a little about our schools and home towns and shared our love of reading. If you have class or book club that you think would be excited to take part in something like this, I can’t recommend it enough!

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Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, and Robin Sloan recommend their favorite books in our newest podcast, Recommended. Download it for free from Apple Podcasts or Google Play.
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