Mona Lisa Mystery

A relay-based mystery game to practice past continuous

Hey guys! This is a remake of another past continuous mystery game I made, now with more structure and less prep work! (I truly think everything can be a relay activity if I try hard and believe in myself.) This game can go by pretty quickly, especially if your class is really genki. I usually do it after my JTE has explained the grammar point, or else do a shorter review activity of present continuous beforehand.


  • Print the "Detective Notes" sheet, one for each group

  • Print the suspect cards, laminate if you like

  • Print two copies of the answer key, one for you and your JTE

  • Mark a place on the board to keep track of who finishes first

  • Lay out the suspect cards face down on a desk in the front of the room


  1. Divide students into groups of 5-6, have them assign roles A, B, C, etc. Pass out the detective notes sheet.

  2. Explain the backstory of the game. I use slides to do this, but they aren't strictly necessary. Explain that someone has stolen the Mona Lisa (or any important item you find amusing). The students are now detectives and must interview suspects to find the thieves. You will likely need to check vocabulary like "steal", "suspect", "thief," and "detective." Using Detective Conan as an example was very helpful.

  3. Student A goes to the desk and picks a suspect card. They must then ask the JTE or ALT: "What was [character] doing last night?" You will answer from the answer key. (Ex: What was Sakura doing last night? / Sakura was baking a cake with Takeshi.)

  4. Student A returns to their group and repeats the sentence. The group works together to write the sentence on their note sheet.

  5. Student B goes to the desk for a new card. Repeat like so. As the game continues, teams will be able to mark suspects on their sheet with O (safe) or X (thief).

  6. Students must fill out ALL characters and write the names of the thieves before submitting their paper for review. If they are correct, they can write their team in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. place on the board.


  • I've included my powerpoint slides that I use to explain the backstory. You can do the game without it, but it's helpful for checking suspect names and showing an example of a good vs bad alibi.

  • The suspects are all pop-culture characters, but I've also included the ALT and JTE for laughs. In the current version, Mickey and Harry Potter are the thieves. Please alter any of the materials as you see fit!

Medium files (requires an account to download) -
  • MonaLisaMystery_Materials.pptx (2.9 MB)
  • MonaLisaMystery_Slides.pptx (4.36 MB)
  • 41
    Submitted by mssamansa April 26, 2023 Estimated time: 20-30min
    1. Angela May 9, 2023

      Thanks for this activity. I`m excited to use it for my lesson next week. It looks fun.

    2. HolliAnderson May 10, 2023

      Thank you! This is exactly what my students will be learning next. I hope I'll get the chance to use it!

    3. ohnoko May 11, 2023

      Just used this in class, and my kids loved it! Thank you for posting!

    4. mangomomon April 17, 2024

      how did you make your students come to you? is it just like, 1st students please come up and ask?

    5. mssamansa May 8, 2024

      @mangomomon Sorry that wasn't clear! It's a relay system, the students should decide their own relay order as a team. Student 1 goes to the card table first, then straight to you or the JTE for the answer. Repeat with student 2, and so on!

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