Kids often are fascinated by such fictional detectives as Sherlock Holmes, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Frank and Joe Hardy. Use these characters as inspiration for play time, costumes and theme parties. Creative kids can use their beloved characters as a launching point for detective craft ideas. Detective-themed crafts need not be expensive. Kids often can "sleuth" for items around the house or buy inexpensive supplies at a craft or home improvement store.
Detectives often use a magnifying glass to examine evidence. Crafty kids can build their own tools with common household supplies.
Boil water and pour it into a small, heat-safe bowl--this step requires adult supervision. Place the bowl in the freezer. Create a list of investigation options while the water freezes. Turn the bowl upside down and tap the ice to free this "magnifying glass."
Kids with sensitive hands can wear "investigator gloves" to hold the ice magnifying glass. Use the ice to examine newspapers, cracks in the ground and other potential mysteries.
Detectives usually carry a small notebook to write down their observations. Kids stepping into the detective role can make their own notebooks, adding a bit of flair to reflect their personalities and interests.
Give each child a thick piece of craft foam--this will serve as the notebook cover. Provide the kids with such items as stickers, pom-poms, foam shapes, ribbon and felt, plus white school glue. Have children decorate the notebook cover. Use stickers to spell out such phrases as "Private Eye" or "Special Detective."
Collect lined pages from discarded school notebooks or diaries. Help the children cut the notebook pages to just slightly smaller than the foam cover. Line up the pages. Use a hole punch on the cover and pages--three holes down the side should be sufficient. Thread a ribbon, cable tie or twisty tie from a bread sack through the holes.
Let your kids communicate with secret messages. Teach them how to make a batch of homemade invisible ink. Junior detectives can keep track of clues, sketch out composites and note information to follow up on a hot lead.
Prepare invisible ink with such common kitchen supplies as lemon juice; water mixed with salt; water mixed with sugar; or milk diluted with a small bit of water. Fill a small bottle--a clean soda or juice bottle works well--with one of these four invisible ink solutions. Give kids a toothpick, paintbrush or dull pencil to dip into the liquid, which becomes invisible after it dries on a piece of white paper.
To read the secret message, help kids hold the paper, writing-side down, over a flame on a gas range, campfire or pillar candle.
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