Top Secret/Detectives/CSI

Top Secret Letters- This idea has grown through brainstorming sessions with my former team teacher, Maureen Isenegger.  I've always wanted to send my students mail during the summer, before having them in the fall.  This summer, they will be receiving 'Top Secret' mail.  Each letter will be written in a different code, with the key enclosed.  I bough Top Secret computer paper on the Scholastic Teacher's Store site (type 'Top Secret' in the search engine).  When the students decode the message, they will see a riddle that needs to be solved.  If they wish, they can go to a web site we've created, type in the answer to the riddle and see a 'secret' website.  When they come back to school, we will spend the first week in Detective mode, with our classroom name being Mrs. Uppman's Undercover Agents.  I'll post the letters, directions for the web sites and the first week activities here.  Keep checking back for additions, as we've only gotten started with our ideas!

Letters to be sent out:
First Letter (change parts in red to your personal information, space around edges meant for bordered paper.)

First Week Activities
Case of the Snack Shack- Great for introducing reading comprehension.  Copy enough strips of each story section for the number of groups in your class.  I would copy each part on a different color piece of paper for clarity.  Have students hunt for all four parts to the story, place in order and then solve the mystery.  Emphasize order (first, next, then, last), comprehension skills and searching for clues within the text.  Ask students to illustrate a visual representation of the crime. 

Fingerprint Art Project- Cut a bunch of scrap paper into the same size squares/rectangles.  Students can make fingerprint pictures in the corners of the paper (one picture per page).  Shuffle the pages into a neat stack, run some rubber cement down the top seam and let dry-cute notepad for mom and dad!  For further pictures and ideas, check out Ed Emberley's Complete Funprint Drawing Book

Mystery Reader- Ask a representative from your local police investigation unit to come in and read a picture book to your students.

Readers Theatre
Fairy Tale Mystery Theatre Presents Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Cute radio broadcast script of the popular fairy tale, with a mystery twist.  Found at The Teacher's Place.

Case of the Ringing Doorbell- Readers Theatre for five students.  Found from this site.

Acting Can Be Murder- A murder mystery game for older students.

Mystery plays for older students- act out a play, and then ask students to solve the mystery!

Carry it through for the entire year!
Create a fun name for your classroom.  Maureen's students will be Isenegger's Investigators.  Brainstorm words that have to with mysteries-detectives, crime scene investigators, undercover agents, agents, officers, examiners, etc.  Let us know what you're going to call your class!

Communication Folders- Great way to keep in touch with parents and help students stay organized.
       Labels (Avery 5161)
       Cover and Explanation Letter (to be put in the front)

Desktags- Create top secret nametags for your students' desks with this template.

Locker Signs- Perfect for labeling lockers.

Locker Signs II- Smaller size for smaller lockers or cubbies.

ID Badges- Perfect for wearing when Subs are in the room-keep in your sub tub.

I purchased the Top Secret bulletin boarder from Scholastic's site and plan on using it for our Mastery Club (I'm toying with Detective's Club, but may change it).  Students will have to hunt down the answers to Mrs. Renz's awesome questions. Possible levels for the MC: Gumshoes, Sergeant, Detective, Lieutenant, Inspector (one level for every 20 questions). (added: I used 'Super Sleuths-the kids loved it!)

If you do a mini-economy, you can have students spend their Detective Dollars at the Spy Store.

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.

Communication Binders:
CLUE: Communication and Learning Used Everyday
CLUE: Children Learning and Understanding Everyday
CLUE: Children Learning Useful Efficiency
I Spy: Informing Students and Parents Yearlong

Bulletin Board Ideas
Investigating Math
Counting on Clues (Math)
Spotlight on Science
Investigation Station (Science)
Dig it Up: Mysteries from the past (History, Social Studies)
Great Capers in Great Places (History, Social Studies)
Secret code of writers (Writing Process)
Author's Clues (Author's Craft)
National Treasure (Core Democratic Values)
Get a Clue Club/Super Sleuths (Mastery Club)
Spy a Good Book (Book Recommendations)
Mission Possible (Student work board, or rethink/effort rubric/Group Norms)
Reading Between the Lines (Classroom Library)
Deciphering the Language Code (Language Arts/Grammar/Foreign Language)
Hot on the Trail of Learning (perhaps a door board?)
Keys to Uncovering Clues

Guess Who?: List 10 clues about different book characters on a bulletin board or poster board. Display the books containing these characters scattered beside the clues. Ask your summer readers to solve the mysteries. Here is an example:  This young detective has a mind that works like an encyclopedia. Who is he?  Answer: Encyclopedia Brown. (Could also be used for historical figures)

Print, cut-out, laminate, and trail these footprints all over your room, or around your boards.

10 Keys to Uncovering Clues- Use these keys to help your students unlock the clues to learning. (2 sets in one PDF, pick your favorite design)

Library Clip Art- Print these pictures onto a transparency, trace onto posterboard, color, laminate and decorate your library!

Get Caught Reading- Order 12 posters for $5 shipping and handling-fantastic fun.  I'm going to change out 'caught' poster each month.  For further fun, use this template and catch your own students reading.  Put magnifying glass clip art all around the posters.

Sponge Activities
Code Maker- The children sit in a circle, facing each other. The librarian chooses a child to be the "Code Breaker" and places a blindfold over his/her eyes. The librarian then silently points to another child who becomes the "Code Maker". The Code Maker performs an action and claps in a rhythm. The group repeats it several times. Then the Code Breaker removes the blindfold. The children continue to perform the action and clap in rhythm. The Code Breaker must guess the identity of the Code Maker while the group repeats the code. When the Code Breaker successfully guesses the identity of the Code Maker, that child becomes the new Code Breaker. The former Code Breaker chooses a child to be the new Code Maker.

Teach students the rules to 20 Questions and use as a sponge activity.

Spy Handshake Game- The goal of this game is to guess which child is the spy. One child is selected as the "Host" of the party who begins the game. Everyone else sits down and closes their eyes. The Host selects the Spy by patting one child on the head. The game begins when the Host announces, "Welcome to my (tea, slumber, rock & roll, birthday, dance) party." Everyone gets up and pretends to be at the kind of party named. They walk around and shake hands with the other guests. The Spy must remove guests from the party by gently scratching or tickling the inside of their hands when shaking it. The Spy does not have to eliminate everyone whose hand they shake. A victim waits ten seconds before leaving the party very dramatically. It is very important for the victim to wait ten seconds and shake other children's hands so as not to give away the identity of the Spy. A child may guess who the Spy is at any time after at least one person has left the party. If the guess is wrong, he or she must leave the party, too. A child cannot refuse to shake another's hand. The person who correctly guesses the identity of the Spy becomes the Host of the next party.

Songs to sing at Morning Meeting

Mission Possible songs- instructions to download are at the bottom of the page.

Ten on a Case
(Adapted by Rose Treviño)
There were ten on a case
And the sergeant said, "Get moving, get moving."
So one started moving and went out the door.

There were nine on a case
And the sergeant said, "Get moving, get moving."
So one started moving and went out the door.

There were eight on a case
And the sergeant said, "Get moving, get moving."
So one started moving and went out the door.

* There were seven…
* There were six…
* There were five…
* There were four…
* There were three…
* There were two…

There was one on a case
Who shouted out loud, "I solved it! I solved it!"

Here We Go Round the Mystery Trail
(Sing to Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.)
Here we go round the mystery trail, mystery trail, mystery trail,
Here we go round the mystery trail, so early in the morning.

This is the way we wear our hats, wear our hats, wear our hats,
This is the way we wear our hats, while we walk on our mystery trail.

This is the way we hold our spy glass, hold our spy glass, hold our spy glass,
This is the way we hold our spy glass, as we walk on our mystery trail.

This is the way we search for clues, search for clues, search for clues,
This is the way we search for clues, as we walk on our mystery trail.

This is the way we close the case, close the case, close the case,
This is the way we close the case, cause a mystery we have solved!

Classroom Cheer
Now here's a tip
Our spies are top
We always win
We never stop,
Tip top spies! (substitute agents, detectives, investigators, etc.)