This is a game using was, was not, were and were not. It's a variation of a classic ALT activity which has been kicking around for decades. All the versions I've found elsewhere look like they were designed on a 1980s word processor, so I've completely remade it from scratch. The game is called Hello Kitty Murder.

This can be played with any number of students above 10, and works best with 2nd grade junior high.

First, ham up a terrible story of Hello Kitty being kidnapped/murdered. Next, give out one character card to every student.

Here are 40 character cards for that.

Students stand up and find a partner, janken, and the winner must ask each a series of questions:
  1. Where were you yesterday?
  2. What time were you there?
  3. What were you doing there?
Students respond with
  1. I was (at Kappa Sushi).
  2. I was there (at 12pm).
  3. I was (reading a newspaper)
There are answers using both the positive and negative ("was not eating sushi" etc).
The responses are taken down as memos on the answer sheet.


Students cannot deduce who did the kidnapping with the hints alone, so during or at the end of the game announce that you have heard more from the police - the location, time etc. You can increase the tension by making the hints broader, such as "it happened between 1 and 3pm", "it was in a sushi place" (there are several different sushi places on the cards.

I make the criminals two characters working together, and abuse them with "why???"s at the end. Ham it up before and after for best results.

You might be left with a damp finish after that (doesn't feel right to just end it there). If that's the case, award the students one point for each interview they conducted, and five points if the interviewed the murderer. Give stickers or something.


If you want to speed it up a bit, make the questions more specific - instead of asking the time and place, students choose one time (of two) and ask what the interviewee was doing then: "what were you doing yesterday at 12". This way they can ask more people in the same time.

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