Thursday, June 9, 2011

Whodunnit Day

I teach first grade now (insert "hallelujah chorus" here), but last year I taught 4th grade and I had SO much fun doing a "Whodunnit Day" as a culminating event for our mystery unit!  I'm going to keep this post simple, but it was too fun not to share!  Maybe it will inspire someone else in cyberspace (insert "Somewhere Out There" here) : )

In a nutshell, I started out by creating a mystery/detective themed classroom to make the day feel special.  We had been working on writing our own mysteries and we had just finished publishing them.  We had been studying mysteries in reading, and I even created special "top secret" stamped manilla folders for their guided reading mystery books for the unit.  They loved it!  It had special papers, which I found HERE, to record all of their thinking along the way!
I contacted the local police department, and a detective was willing to come and tell us all about his job.  He even took some students' fingerprints and showed us various tools he used.  Very cool!

Then, I told them that I was going to reward them with brownies for working so hard on their mystery unit.  But when I went to open the Tupperware, they were missing!  (Of course, this is all planned) I tell them to get their notebooks and pencils and get ready to help me solve the case of the missing brownies.  I had come up with THIS basic "script" as an outline ahead of time, and I coordinated it with the various teachers, lunch ladies, and our principal all beforehand.  They were such good sports!  The students had a blast, and were able to identify the appropriate clues, red herrings, alibis, etc. which really showed me they learned something!  Woo hoo!  It turned out WONDERFULLY and was my favorite part of the day!

Later, parents showed up!  We divided them into groups and gave them CLUES (click there to see the clues I made) which took them on a scavenger hunt all around the school (coordinated this beforehand).  I had groups of my students stationed QUIETLY at each location so those teachers would not have to be bothered.  The final clue led each parent to the cafeteria where we put on a small program. Pairs of students shared their illustrations of mystery vocabulary words on stage as the parents "oohed" and "awwwed" over how adorable they all were.  Then they spread out around the cafeteria and read their mysteries in small groups to the parents that were in attendance (one parent would have their own child and another child's stories to listen to, so everyone had an audience!)

Last, I gave each "detective" a little reward (I found these super cute certificates made for a spy themed birthday party at a local cheapo dollar store!) and a "CLUE" game themed activity which happened to be in the Wendy's kid's meals at that time (I told them it was for my class and they gave me 50% off so I could buy enough for the whole class!)

Oh! I almost forgot!  To invite the parents to the "Whodunnit Day," I created these super cool invitations.  I used a free stamp font I found on line to make a "Top Secret" stamp.  Then I also found a font that typed the letters BACKWARDS!  I figured out how to type the words themselves backwards, too.  In order to "crack the code" of the invitation,  they had to look at it in the mirror.  I can't find the old file.  Must be in a black hole somewhere in cyberspace.  But at least I've shared the idea!  They were so easy to make once I figured out that I needed to type the words backwards!

Anyway, it was SUCH a great day.  Below are some pictures to help you visualize, although I didn't include the cutest ones because of privacy issues!  I hope this gives someone inspiration to create a fun day for their kiddos next year!  You won't regret it!

Footsteps leading to the classroom on Whodunnit Day set the tone.  The kiddos in my class were SO stinkin' excited (and not gonna lie, the kiddos in the other classes were a wee bit jealous!)  Amazing what some paper cut in the shape of a shoe can do!

 The kiddos dressed up as detectives...sunglasses, trench coats/hats, magnifying glasses, etc.  Since this is not my current class, I did not get permission to post their pictures on line so I will just show you me!  I gave every child a dollar store notebook and badge at the beginning of the day.  I told them it might come in handy later!
A 4th grader's dad was a police officer, so he brought me some "caution tape" to line my door!  Too cool!
We had so much fun showing off our attire!
A local detective came and showed us how he captures fingerprints and gave us some sticker badges!  I love when the community jumps on board!

Here are some parents reading clues for their scavenger hunt around the school.  I had a group of students stationed at each location.  All parents ended up in the cafeteria where we put on a small program showing off everything we learned about mysteries!

Each pair of students used a poster to illustrate one of our mystery vocabulary words.  They stood on stage and read their definitions aloud to the parents.

 Lastly, each student got to take a turn reading the mysteries that they wrote to the parents that were in attendance.  I spread them out in the cafeteria in small groups and everyone got to read to an adult.  Fun was had by all!

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