Set up a fun detective game for kids with just a few simple items. Create an invitation to play with a basic story prompt, and then let your child’s imagination do the rest.
It has been raining here for days now. We’ve played our way through our usual indoor games like treasure hunts and games with paper cups, but we needed something new to try. R loves to dress up, so I raided his box full of dress up clothes, grabbed a few items from his toy box and pulled together possibly the simplest game we’ve ever played – a secret spy/detective game. He loved it and another rainy day was salvaged with hours of dramatic play. Hooray! Here’s what we did.
I set the scene with a few simple items like:
*his magnifying glass (every self-respecting sleuth needs a magnifying glass, right?)
* a torch (to search for clues in all those dark corners, and every kid loves to play with a torch)
* walkie talkie (for all those secret communications with fellow spies)
* a folder containing a secret mission (more on this later)
* a jacket from his dress up box (a detective needs to look savvy after all)
I left the dramatic play props sitting on our dining table and when he discovered them, R was pretty excited. He immediately dressed himself in the jacket and got to work, looking for clues.
The fabulous thing about this game, is that you can make it as structured, or as open ended as you like. I honestly did nothing more than lay out the props and R just ran with it and made up his own scenarios and got right to work investigating a very important “case”. There are however, MANY other options if you have a bit more time to set it up.
Here are just a few ways you could extend this play:
* Set out clues for your kids, perhaps turning it into a treasure hunt of some kind. Really the possibilities for that are endless – find 10 green items, 10 things that begin with the letter B, 10 things that are square…
* For a variation on the treasure hunt idea, try writing out a series of clues, each one leading to a different room. A new clue can be discovered in each room, until at last a prize is discovered with the final clue.
* Create secret messages using invisible ink – there are many ways to do this. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Remember writing secret messages in milk or lemon juice when we were back in school? Let the “ink” dry, hold the paper over a light bulb and voila. A secret message is revealed.
Do your kids love pretend play games? What are your favourite items from the dress up drawer?