Curriculum Guide ~ Mystery on Pine Lake

Click below for a detailed Teacher’s Guide for Cooper and Packrat; Mystery on Pine Lake, created by Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year, Shannon Shanning.

Included are Pre-, During and Post Reading Strategies, the Common Core Standards they target, and additional project ideas for other content areas.

Mystery On Pine Lake ~ Teaching Guide

I always enjoy hearing from teachers about the projects inspired by Cooper and Packrat.  Please, tell me yours!



What do your students already know about the subject?  Before launching into the book, read Cooper and Packrat’s synopsis aloud.  As a class, or individually, ask students to think about what they already know about camping, friendships, loons, bullying ect., using past personal and learning experiences.   Then ask them to complete a list of their knowledge, following the letters of the alphabet from A through Z.  They would write one word or a phrase for each letter.

For example:

A =  Aunt Martha had a camp on a lake

B = black (loons are black and white)

C= canoeing on Range Pond with my Dad

Afterward, ask your students to share their knowledge with each other.



Research loons with your students.  Ask them what they already know, then dig into some loon research.    The Maine Audubon, Maine Loon Project website has some wonderful information, as does New Hampshire’s Loon Preservation Committee.

*  Once endangered, these amazing birds are making a comeback. Make a list of all the dangers to loons. Make another list of the ways humans are helping them. Compare and contrast your lists.

*  Play the four different loon calls – explain their meanings.   Replay them: Can the students tell them apart?

*  In the spring, you can watch nesting loons live on a loon cam!  Minnesota Bound: Larry’s Live Loon Cam is one I frequently used in my research.  It isn’t springtime?  No worries!  They have videos of past nesting loons on their site.


Watch a loon cam real time with your students over several days.  Or choose a specific  snippet of time from a past loon cam airing, such as the loons building their nest, the chicks being born or the pair defending their territory.  Ask the students to write a narrative piece based on the material they’ve watched.


Here is a video of me, talking about Cooper and Packrat, the series and the inspiration behind it all. What I love most about it, is the footage of the lake.


One of my favorite things to do with my students in the classroom is to read aloud.  If you don’t mind my homemade video, I’d love to read to your students, too. Below are the last three chapters of MYSTERY ON PINE LAKE, with a tiny bit of commentary thrown in before or after each one.   If your students have any questions after finishing the book, please feel free to send me an e-mail!  Or perhaps we could set up a google classroom chat, or they could send their questions through FlipGrid.

You’ll find more read-alouds on my Read With Tamra page, under Teacher Resources.