Detective / Mystery Themed Classroom

Throughout the month of June, I am going to run a Classroom Theme Series and feature a different popular classroom theme each day. Themes are a great way to tie everything
in your classroom just have to be careful not to let them clutter your classroom :) Today we are going to get out our magnifying glasses
and take a closer look at a Detective/Mystery Theme!

My 20+ Page Mystery Themed Classroom Kit is now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. It includes all of the following items shown in the sample pictures below, plus more!Click here to view the kit.

The first photos are from my classroom when I used a mystery/detective theme for open house. Many of them could be adapted to a classroom theme.

WANTED POSTERS: Each student created a character for himself and wrote a story explaining their alibi and why they were innocent. The alleged crime was: Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar.

CRIME SCENE TRIORAMA: After writing their own mysteries based on a Nursery Rhyme (i.e. Was Humpty Dumpty Pushed? Who really scared Miss Muffett?) we made trioramas based on their writing.

MYSTERY NUMBER: There are clues written on the front of the page with the question mark. You can lift the page to reveal the mystery number.

MAGNIFICENT ME: LOVED THESE!!! Each child painted a self portrait and wrote a bio poem about themself. I printed their poems on an overhead transparency and attached it to the magnifying class cutout. So stinking cute!

JUST THE FACTS: This was another favorite. I took a picture of each friend wearing a detective hat and a trenchcoat with a badge. The printed page read, "Just the Facts About (insert student name)." The children then wrote interesting facts about themselves on the paper. I mounted each onto brown cardstock, rounded the corners and used aluminum foil to make them look like clipboards.

I SPY: Each student wrote a descriptive paragraph about an object. I took a picture of each with the magnifying glass held up close so that it magnified one eye. They were lots of fun.

HANDWRITING ANALYSIS: Third graders learn to write in cursive. They each wrote the alphabet in cursive and then wrote clues about themselves in cursive on a separate card. The parents tried to match the clues to the "handwriting sample."SCAVENGER HUNT: When each child arrived, I had a badge (came in packs of 4 from The Dollar Tree) anda clipboard waiting for each of them. The clipboard held a scavenger hunt for the night to complete with their families. This encourages them to show off all of their work. The hunt included things like, "What is the third word in the third sentence of your I Spy paragraph?"


Investigating _______
I Spy ______
Undercover _____
The Case of the Amazing Class
Searching for ______
Taking a Closer Look at _____ (magnifying glass)
Suspected of Great Work
Focused on _______ (magnifying glass)
Caught in the Act
Top Secret!
It’s No Mystery Who’s in Our Class
Mr./Ms. ___’s Super Sleuths
Create a focus wall titled, “Current Investigations”
Have each student make a handprint using red paint. When it dries, write his/her name on it and cut them out. Use them to create a yearlong display board titled, “Caught Red-Handed Doing Great Work.” Then you just need to change out the work periodically.
Staple a gallon sized ziploc bag for each student onto the bulletin board. Label each with a student’s name. Title the board, “Evidence of Hard Working Students.” Slide their work into the bags to easily change up the board and display their products.
Library: Investigate a Good Book
Science: Investigation Statiion
Math: Make Calculations and Solve Puzzles
Colorful footprints
Fingerprint Clipart
Magnifying Glasses
Detective Hats *plastic ones are available cheap at party stores)
Question Marks
Color Copies of Mystery Book Covers
Detective Badges
Buy solid color border and use an ink pad to make fingerprints all over it.
Use crime scene tape as bulletin board border
Trace your foot onto black cardstock, cut it out and hang them all around the room in a line.
For classroom management, students get a clue card. Using a checkmark scrapbook diecut, they get “clues” (checkmark punches) for being caught being good. When the whole class gets a set number of clues, they get a Friday afternoon game session where we play Clue (both regular and if I feel really ambitious, a modified educational version). When a student is misbehaving, they get a question mark for “questionable behavior.” Too many question marks and “I suspect you owe me recess” or “I suspect you will have to fill out a behavior form” or “I suspect …” etc. Haven’t narrowed this all part down yet.
At the beginning of the school year, before school actually began, I sent home a welcome letter to all of my students. I started the letter with "Dear Future Special Agent and family, Welcome to 4th grade where you will be investigating our world by asking questions and seeking answers! You are about to enter a training force of student special agents where your mission will be to try your best in all that you do. Your term of membership lasts one year. Your hard work and dedication will add to the success of the special agent task force. Welcome and good luck!" I then went on to invite them to a "Recruitment Briefing" before school began at the "Special Agent Headquarters." I provided a cipher card where I used wingdings font and matched the symbols with the letters of the alphabet and provided them with a password that needed to be decoded before they came to see me. I also signed the letter "Special Agent 0024" (which was my badge number.) (source)
Create an “Eye Witness Jar”: Provide slips of paper that read, “I witnessed ____ showing good character by _____.”
Name your groups: detectives, investigators, agents and private eyes.
Other classroom photos:

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