Kids love to use imaginative play to explore the world and express themselves. They like to try to figure things out the way a detective does by hunting for clues, real or pretend. Detective crafts will encourage their creative side and make items they can use for imaginative play while they are on the hunt for clues to solve a riddle or crime.
Use inexpensive wood, metal or plastic magnifying glasses. Paint the rim around the glass and the handles in different designs using acrylic paints or paint pens. Paint the child's name on the magnifying glass frame so he knows which one is his.
For a less expensive version, cut magnifying glasses out of cardboard, heavy paper, poster board or stiff card stock, two matching pieces per magnifying glass. Cut out the center of the glass on both pieces and replace the cut-out part with clear cellophane glued or taped in place between the two pieces. Try an alternate lens option by leaving a slot open at the top of the two joined pieces of paper magnifying lenses. Instead of gluing the clear cellophane in place, make interchangeable round insert pieces with different colored cellophane lenses. Add pictures of clues to some of the alternate lenses. Fingerprints, footprints or missing words from a written story make good clue pictures.
Clue Notebooks and Briefcases
Every good detective has to keep track of the clues she finds. Use small spiral bound notebooks that fit in the palm of the child's hand or have the child create his own notebook. Bind the pages by stapling or by punching holes and adding string to keep the pages together. Use acrylic or poster paints to have the child add her name, paint pictures that remind her of detective play on the front and back of the clue notebook, or use stickers and old postage stamps on the covers.
Make a briefcase using thin cardboard, poster board or manila folders. Add a handle so the child can carry his briefcase. Make it big enough to put important papers in. Seal the two sides but leave the top where the handle is open. Color, paint or decorate the briefcase. Be sure to add initials on the handle or on the side of the briefcase and write "Top Secret" on the briefcase. Make a paper chain and fabric or paper wrist cuff so he can attach the briefcase to his wrist like a courier carrying important documents.
Help each child make her own fingerprint kit. Get a small black ink pad with washable ink for each child. Make fingerprint cards with plain white 3 x 5-inch cards, with boxes for five fingers on the front of the card and five on the back, one for each hand. Give the child extra cards to get fingerprints from suspects.
Identification Badges and Driver's Licenses
Make detective identification cards and driver's licenses using a photocopy or drawing of the child on each card. Cut plain white 3 x 5-inch cards in half to make a driver's license on one and a detective card on the other. The child can make up a name for his detective character or use his real name. Add details such as his detective class or grade and license number, even the name of his precinct or detective agency.
Make a detective badge using paper cut in a badge shape, and use metallic pens or white craft clue and glitter to add the detective number and name to the badge. Use a safety pin on the back so she can really wear the badge or stick it on her with tape. You can use sticky backed paper to make the badges if the badges are only for one-time play.