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Theme - Detective/Mystery Theme

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Great ideas to use with your Detective or Mystery theme.

detective theme
Posted by: chris

Just a few notes from the top of my head...

1. For behavior, you could have them move different levels of detectives - for example from novice to super sleuth! Super sleuths would earn more money. Or they could get different numbers of stars on a badge to show how high up in rank they are.

2. I just bought a bulletin board border with a detective theme. I can let you know the company if you want.

3. Start the year with autobiographies and leave the names off and have them solve the mystery of who is being described. You could have them secretly bring in baby pictures to add a clue to the puzzle.

4. My second graders love the Bailey School Kids, Cam Jansen, and Jigsaw Jones mysteries also.

5. They could come up with detective agency names for the groups that they are seated in. You could use these names to give small group rewards , calling them to line up, etc.

6. You could have a class mascot (a bloodhound maybe?)who disappears and the students follow clues to find him. You could either have him with another classroom or tie this into your curriculum by having him visit parts of the world that you study, etc.

7. Their name tags on their desks could be a badge that says Lt. and then their name.

8.You could have a part of the room where you rate the books that you read. They could be measured by how many "magnifying glasses" they get, like how many stars a movie gets.

I hope that some of this helps. I'll keep on thinking. Good idea!

Classroom Preparations
Posted by: Jacki

In my 3rd grade classroom, I always use a theme, too. This year, my main slogan is "Be Like a Detective in School!" I made a large Sherlock Holmes style detective with "mini" posters to go around it..each with graphics and phrases such as: Be observant! Take Notes! Build your skills! Make calculations! Solve Puzzles! Look for clues! Search for answers!, etc. On the hallway door, I have printed a large magnifying glass that reads "Welcome to our 3rd Grade Class...Our mission is to conquer new knowledge!". On the first day of school, I take each child's picture and print it on a desk tag. This year, the desk tags will say: This is the desk of Detective "John Doe", with a badge showing their student number (I always number my kids!), and their pictures. I put these on the desks with clear contact paper and leave them there for the entire year! (This has helped my subs be able to easily put a face with a name!). On my birthday board, I have printed a banner that reads "The evidence is clear! Your birthday is a time to cheer!" These are just some of the ways I am incorporating my theme. (I use a different theme every year!)

Mystery Theme
Posted by: christine

I am also going with this theme. Since I am a new teacher to the school, I have been referred to as the mystery teacher, and in my summer letter I have asked the kids to make mystery bags (the idea was on this site) to bring to school the first day. I am going to call the bb with rules, procedures, etc "Classroom Clues". Where did you get the door display, or did you make it yourself. Unfortunately I am not that artistic. For a library, you could call it "Searching For a Good Book" or "Reading Slueths". Do you have a jobs chart? I am thinking of either only having 2 helpers a week and calling them Lil slueths, or coming up with some sort of magnifying glass, etc to use as the job chart. Please share any other ideas you may have for this theme, as I haven't been able to find much out there already!

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when I did
Posted by: Nat

my mystery unit I had traced my foot on black bristol board like 100 times. I cut them out and placed them in the room it looked cool =o)

I had some do not cross police tape... that you buy at halloween.


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Be Like A Detective...
Posted by: JKB

Through the course of my teaching years, I have used a variety of themes, but my all time favorite was "Be Like A Detective In School". I made a huge Detective with a magnifying glass. Then, I had signs around him such as: Observe, Take Notes, Listen, Research, Think, Look for Clues, READ-READ-READ, etc.

Hope this is helpful! JKB:s)

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Posted by: jose

Have your kids make their own finger prints with pencil and tape on white paper. This is done by taking a pencil and makinf a 1 inch square and color it in with a pencil, making it dark. Them have them to rub one finger at a time to get the pencil led on their finger. Then take a piece of tape, put on the finger making the print (be sure not to move around on finger) and remove and place on a piece of paper. They can do one finger or all fingers depending on what you want to use it for. I teach high school spec ed and my kids have difficulty reading but they love finding patterns and they loved this. I then made a weekly game where each one won something. I would take a finger print and place it on the most wanted for good behavior poster and they could then check their finger prints with the one chosen. They learned how to check for swirls, hills, and circles in the prints. Then as it went on we would get in groups to try to find out who did it (like made a 100 on a timed math test, spelling test, maybe who has a birthday) They loved it. Let them use the mag. glasses to check prints. We also used this to classify, identify details, and to make eliminations. The kids also understood how the police used fingerprints to catch criminals. I dont think this was exactly what you was looking for but it was fun and your post brought back some fun memories.

creative sleuths
Posted by: Heather

The fingerprinting program that Jose referred to is from GEMS Guides. There is a whodunnit type unit with fingerprinting, chromatography, and other crime lab activities. GEMS Guides are really great resources for science and math units. I'm not sure of the website, but you can search for GEMS Guides and it should come up. They are put together by Lawrence Hall of Science at Univ. of Cali. at Berkeley.

For your management system, you could have a detective (Scotland Yard style). The students earn footprints to make their way toward the reward or clue (whatever you did this year). You could have detective dollars to reward them. You could also make them collect a certain number of clues to earn the detective dollars (reward money). They could collect fingerprints, evidence, magnifying glass, ransom letter, etc (like from the game CLUE).

I hope this helps!

Mystery Bags
Posted by: RamonaQ

We give students Mystery Bags to fill with 3 items that tell us about themselves. We give the Mystery Bags out at Open House, which is before the first day of school, and the students bring them back on the first day or sometime during the first week. During the first week, students share one item with the whole group and the other two items in groups. Then I clear off space on a long rectangular table and we make a Me Museum. The students write about their items on an index card put them on display on the table for the whole first week.

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Clue Theme
Posted by: Krissy4th

What a fun theme idea! How about...

*Ceiling Decorations: Make giant questions marks of different color to hang from the ceiling. Student could each decorate them the first few days of school all about themselves.

*Nametags: Make student nametags that are magnifying glasses, cut out a circular photo of students and glue in the center of the magnifying glass.

*Star of the Week: Have students fill out a questionairre the first week of school. Choose a different "Mystery Person" star of the week every week. Each day, reveal one clue about the person. On Friday, reveal who it was.

*AR Goals: If you do AR reading, you could make a large bulletin board for goals with the title "Hot on the case toward on goals!" Give each student a detective to color and move throughout the board. You could do a green background with trees and such. It might even be cute to glue student photos as heads for the detectives.

*Job Chart: A title "Helping Out Is No Mystery!" with students names on small cardstock. If you glue a paper magnifying glass to a library pocket, you could cut it out and then when you slide the cardstock names in, they would show through the glass. Jobs could be written on each handle.

*Reading Incentive: Let students sign their name to a "Super Sleuth" log everytime they read any type of mystery book. Just take a regular notebook and make a fancy cover with detective clip-art.

*Classroom Journals: If your students write in journals everyday, you could call them "Detective Logs"

*Locker Tags: Make little badges for each student that say their names like "Detective Sally"

*Beginning of year activities: Make a word search of detective words and student names

*Welcome board: "It's no mystery who's in our class!" Put students names on a big list with a detective holding them or under a giant magnifying glass. You could laminate the magnifying glass with the center already cut out so it would look like glass.

*Class Library: "Investigate a Good Book Today" Put up a giant magnifying glass to feature various great books on. Let students write reviews to put on the magnifying glass each week. Some small stools painted dark with question marks all over would be cute. Add a couple of plants and you have a cozy little library area!

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Detective theme
Posted by: Mrs. G

You could have a welcoming board that says "Search and See Who is in Mrs. G's Class. Put all of their names on fingerprints, detective hats, or magnifying glasses.

Another bulletin board title could be "Who Dunit?" This could be used to display student work.

"Seeking Good Behavior" could be used for your classroom management system.

Classroom Library could have "Clues for Finding a Good Book" or "Inspect a Good Book"

Posted by: Suzanne

I bought little Magnifying glasses from the party store. I give my students a check list spelling, capitals, punctuation, etc. They need to use their Magnifying glass and be detectives checking only one item at a time. They really love doing this and it was amazing to see how much it really helped them to focus on the task. Hope it helps!

Posted by: 1956BD

I teach the mystery genre at the beginning of the year to my third graders. I got a lot of ideas from Beth Newingham's website. I discuss with my students how many times a detective looks at the clues to sove the crime or mystery. I use this analogy with the students all year when teaching them to read for information. It drives home the point of reading and rereading until you find the information you need in the text to answer the question. I say, "Remember to be a good detective! Keep searching for all the clues until you find them."

This year we ordered plastict fedora hats for the kids.(one class set to share among 5 classes) We are going to allow them to use the science magnifying glasses and wear the hats during reading in the mystery unit. We also bought two used trench coats so we can take their pictures dressed as detectives for a BB. Hopefully a little drama will add to their excitment about reading.

Maybe you could make a dective dummy to sit and observe in your classroom with a fedora and trench coat. The kids could name him.

Footprints or fingerprints could be a cute BB border. There are actually four basic types of thumbprints. They each have a different name. Maybe you could use that to divide the class into groups. Or you call them by different detective agency names.

A Sherlock Holmes hat and pipe would be cute to use for your theme as well. You can usually find those hats around Halloween.

Maybe everyone needs a TOP SECRET file or notebook for some reason. You could get a TOP SECRET stamp to use.

Be sure to read them The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups by David Wiseniewski. It fits your theme and kids always love the humor. He has written a sequel as well. Try some non-fiction mysteries as well. Mary Celeste: The Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen is one that comes to mind. Also The Mysteries of Harris Burdick picture book has great mysterious pictures to use as writing prompts. It is by Chris Van Allsburg. It used to be available in a big book of posters that you could use to decorate your room.

Hope some of these ideas are useful. Good luck!

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Special Agent Theme
Posted by: book lover

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.)

When students came to see me on the designated day before school began they told me their password and then got to choose a locker and desk and had to pose for their special agent badge photo. I got magnifying glasses and black fidora hats from Oriental Trading Company and each child got one to pose with. They had to pose and then I provided badge name tags that were made out of construction paper with a big circle in the middle for their picture to be placed.

Students also chose special agent numbers. The numbers were used for Homeworkopoly and when they wrote letters to me at the end of each week they could sign them Special Agent and their number instead of writing their name.

On the first day of school all of the kids got their hats and magnifying glasses and went out and posed together for the Special Agent Task Force photo. I then posted it outside of my classroom for the entire year for all to see.

On the outside of my classroom I had a sign that I drew that had a detective following footprints with a magnifying glass and it had on it "Special Agent Headquarters" and "Hot on the trail of learning."

I used the MOOSE notebooks but called mine C.S.I. Binder which was short for Curious Students Investigating 4th grade.

I also utilized Mrs. Renz's Mastery Club but called mine the Special Agent Challenge. If they earned 10 or more stars they became a part of the permament Special Agent Hall of Fame.

This year I may incorporate the GEMS fingerprint lessons into my first few weeks or in the middle of the year to add some flavor. I am moving to a new school this year and they have a school-wide theme of "Red, White, and Blue" so I am incorporating that with my special agent theme. I went to a scrapbooking store today and found some cute stickers of stick figure kids that are holding flags and have the red, white and blue colors. I was thinking about blowing them up on an opaque projector and drawing them on butcher paper and using them for some decorations around the room and then adding some fidora hats and magnifying glasses and badges to some to tie in both themes.

I would like to come up with a cute idea for my reading area. I like the idea having a stuffed dummy dressed as a special agent, that may work. Well, hopefully this gave you some ideas. I would love to hear any other ideas anybody else may have.

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mystery theme
Posted by: muss15

I teach fourth grade and I've done a mystery theme and it always lasted all year. I place the students into cooperative groups of four (Detectives, Witnesses, Policemen, Inspectors). They design a logo for the group and I display it on a bulletin board, which accompanies my cooperative group behavior plan. I cut up each letter of the word cooperate and if groups are working together I add points to the group, if they are not cooperating I take a letter(s) away. Each letter is worth 10 points. I tally points at the end of each week.

We read the mystery book The Westing Game (the kids absolutely love this book) and finish the year with studying a mystery unit, which includes writing a mystery.

My math mystery bulletin board read "Super Sleuths" and all year we talked about solving the mystery of word problems.

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