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For Readers Age 9 - 12
Grades 4th - 8th

The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle - Suggested Activities
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Suggested Activities

Book 5 returns to rich descriptions of people and places that are so intriguing we cannot resist investigating them!

Sites to get you started learning about Russian history include Alexander Palace and US News' "History's Mysteries."

Informacy and planning skills:

Amy and Dan are successful due in great part to their pre-planning and researching of important facts, floor plans, maps and other information they need to expediently hunt for clues. This puts them at a more equal level with their competitors, who are adults and often know the territory. Consider having your student pre-plan as they read along in the book: what information and supplies do they need once they arrive in Volgograd from Cairo? To find the Shuvalov palace? To find Alexei’s playroom?

Amy and Dan also successfully collaborate with the Holts, benefiting both families to the detriment of their enemies in the Lucian branch. What are some of Amy and Dan’s behaviours and choices that resulted in this success? What would have happened if Amy and Dan acted differently?

Important places and things:

P. 22 provides a list of Russian cities that Amy, Dan and the Holts visit to collect clues leading to THE clue. You can investigate this too! To start with, did Volgograd really have multiple names? Why? What can you find about the other cities?

The Motherland Calls monument: Did a million people really die there?

What about the royal village, Tsarkoye Selo (p. 84), the Tsars village where Romanovs supposedly holidayed. Catherine’s Palace, Alexei’s Palace, and much more to investigate in these historical landmarks!

Follow Amy and Dan’s path. Use a large map or draw your own. Start in Egypt and land in Volgograd, Russia. Keep a running list of landmarks and add these to your map as you read. For example, find the Moika river in St. Petersburg, its Nevsky Prospekt freeway and St. Peter and St. Paul. In the meantime, find the Holts in Omsk, Siberia (trans-Siberian railway), Then there is the “road of bones” and Magadan, Siberia (p. 101) for the Hamiltons, while Amy/Dan are back to the royal village and Catherine Palace. And when our heroes are left to decide where to train next, find the train path from St. Petersburg to Moscow and to Yekaterinburg (don’t forget The Church on the Blood where the Romanovs were executed). While in Moscow, the Kremlin, State Kremlin Palace can be located too.

Important people:

Lots of historical figures to learn about! To start with, Lennon, Stalin, the royal Romanov family with famed Anastasia, and Rasputin.

  • As for Rasputin, Prince Felix Yusupov tried to poison Rasputin then shot him in the back but he didn’t die until he was tied up and dropped into ice hole in river. Or so says Amy in our story. Did Rasputin really have supernatural healing powers? And did he somehow assist Anastasia in escaping execution? Solve the mystery!

  • The book says Anastasia was raised like a normal child and was naughty and fun (p.85). There is a tale that her body was missing six years after execution. Is this myth or mystery? Check it out!

  • Before the royal Yusupov’s owned the palace, Amy says it was owned by Count Pyotr Shuvalov. (In St. Petersburg). Is that true? What happened to them?

  • Russian authors have added much to classical literature. One is mentioned in this book, Dostoevsky’s classic novel Crime and Punishment p. 67. Who was this author?


You can probably come up with more ideas for science and technology, but to get started...

  • In old mysteries, we had “bugs” which were receivers that permitted listening in on conversations. More recently, tracking devices were invented and made their way into fiction. Now we have GPS trackers. The Lucians certainly are experts in tracking their prey! Consider a science experiment making a “bug” or gps tracker.

  • The remote control Shark is pivotal in this story. What remote control devices are really in use today? How do they work?

  • And that super vehicle, the Kamaz, find pictures of it in action! What are its features and capabilities? What makes it so tough?


(For more suggested reading, visit our bookstore.)




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