Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, April Fools’ Day (L3U3L3), someone has been playing tricks on Ben and his friends, but who is it? Ben plays detective and follows the clues to solve the mystery. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students engage in activities using the present perfect progressive tense in the context of the mystery theme.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Use the present perfect progressive tense to discuss and write captions for images. (Language Objective)
  2. Complete brainstormed story starters that require the present perfect progressive tense. (Language Objective)
  3. Use the new vocabulary words in a Story Impression activity, and compare their stories to the movie. (Content Objective)
  4. Compose and illustrate a shared mini mystery using a storyboard. (Content Objective)


Present perfect progressive signal words: how long, for, since, lately, recently
Mystery, mysterious, detective, clue, fingerprint, suspect, suspicion, suspicious


Make copies for the class of the image What Has Been Happening Here?
Make copies for the class of the Comic Strip Template and Blank Storyboard Activity Page.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. How Long Have I Been ...? To introduce the concept of a continuing past action, begin the lesson by asking the students what time it is and write the time on the board. Then, without speaking, begin doing something, such as walking around the room. Then look at your watch, and ask, “How long have I been walking around the room?”
  2. It's a Mystery. The movie April Fools' Day (L3U3L3) is about a mystery that Ben solves. Before watching the movie, create a web on the board with the word "mystery," to generate vocabulary and concepts about the theme.
    You can then have pairs of students write a Story Impression with either the words from the brainstorming web or the new vocabulary words from the lesson. Ask volunteers to share their Story Impressions with the class. As they tell their stories, pay attention to ways that you, or the other students, can tie in a question using the present prefect progressive. After watching the movie, students can compare it to the Story Impressions they wrote. They can record similarities and differences on a Venn Diagram, and then relate their comparisons to the class.
  3. What Has Been Happening Here? Distribute or display the image What Has Been Happening Here? Tell the students that in this scene, Ben is playing the part of detective, and is asking them , “What has been happening here? Who has been making this mess?” Instruct students to look at the clues in the image and answer Ben’s question in the present perfect progressive. When they have finished, students can roundrobin reasons that they suspect Moby.
  4. Create Your Own Mystery. Working in pairs, have students create their own mysteries. They can use the Comic Strip Template or the Blank Storyboard Activity Page to illustrate a comic strip or write a mini mystery story. To incorporate use of the present perfect progressive tense, brainstorm sentence starter ideas with the class about possible mysteries. For example:
    The teacher has been acting strangely lately.
    The teacher hasn't been giving us homework this week.
    Patti has only been wearing the color red this week.
    Jon hasn't been talking very much lately.
    Tom has been arriving late to school recently.
    Jen has been eating a lot of apples recently.
    My pencils have been disappearing all week.

Extension Activities

Ask if students know any mysteries or detectives from books, comics, television, or movies. Discuss and compare them.

Discuss April Fools' Day. Have students research the holiday and the custom of playing tricks. If students know similar holidays in other cultures, they can share the information and compare the holidays.


BrainPOP ELL Movies
Have They Forgotten?
Mount Everest
I Had Overslept
History of Trains