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Mystery Calls – Making Geography Real for Kids

Mystery Calls

Connecting Classrooms through Mystery Calls

Video conferencing is a powerful way to make connections and expand the reach of your classroom with minimal equipment and effort.  One popular classroom use of video conferencing is the “Mystery Call”, AKA “Mystery Skype” or “Mystery Hangout”.  This activity can be done with any age level, but its focus on reinforcing geography skills makes it a great fit for middle grades where students are learning about US geography in their study of states and capitals.  Beyond geography skills, the mystery call can be used to reinforce math skills by adding in tools like MapFight which compare the relative size of states in a ratio.  Take a look at this example:



Engaging Students in Geography

The Mystery Call also relies on students’ knowledge of history, for example, “Is your state one of the original thirteen colonies”.  Students must also be aware of the location of major land forms such as major mountain chains as well waterways and oceans.  Creative questions such as “Does your state name have three or more syllables, bring in language arts skills during the Mystery Call.   Some classrooms challenge students to identify the city, not just the state of their partner classroom.  In our Mystery Calls with Mrs. Robert’s (@mmmlrobert) Grade 4 students, we only tasked students with identifying the state.  For reference, these calls typically took approximately 30 minutes.  I would imagine narrowing down to the city would take much longer and it was beyond the scope of the learning standards we were targeting.  The students were very engaged in the process which I’ve tried to capture in this short video summary:

There are tons of amazing resources online, from which I drew upon to create this lesson plan.  Feel free to make your own copy and modify as needed!

Mystery Call Lesson Plan


  1. Thanks for your amazing sharing Jenn! I have added your tips to a “best practices” document I am developing for my global connections group and have submitted your lesson plan to our collection of globally inspired lesson plans we are collecting for GD. You are an amazing resource!

    • So happy to hear you you found the post helpful and that you will be including it in your collection of resources!

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