Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mystery Party: Clues & Evidence

Today's post is all about the clues and evidence which, if you remember, were the main point of the party, at least according to Jenna.

We laid out 3 clues:

1 Footprints (or, more accurately, shoeprints)

These were just drawn and photocopied on different colored paper, with each color representing a different shoeprint.

This made it easy to just say, "Make sure you get one of each color!" when they were strewn  over the crime scene floor 

and there were 10 + kids rushing about trying to gather them all up.

The kids had to determine if any of the suspects' prints were among the ones they found, either with their dossiers 

or the facts poster. The prints were sufficiently distinct that the pattern of the sole would distinguish them. However, for the die-hard investigators among us, we also included a measuring tape in the Detection Kits so they could measure the prints. The size of the shoe (e.g. 9) was the length of the print in inches (in this case 9"). 

2 Fingerprints
Jenna wanted them all over the walls and floor and objects and everything, so that people could "dust for them with talcum powder". Whoa. Thrilling, but not really practical.

I took her concept and kid-friendly-fied it as follows:
  • Took a circle of cardstock.
  • Made a thumbprint on it.
  • Covered it with contact paper.
  • Painted over it with silver acrylic paint.

To "dust for fingerprints", we simply scratched off the silver layer to reveal the fingerprint underneath.

Then I made them in different colors, with each color representing a different suspect's prints. Like the color-coded shoeprints, this sorta defeats the purpose of an objective fingerprint investigation, but it much easier to tell the kids, "Collect one circle of each color!" And to compensate for the loss of suspense, we left out one suspect's prints and the kids had to figure out which one was absent from the crime scene. 

2 Handwriting and Ink Pigment Analysis
Again, another of Jenna's ideas. She once saw an episode of Fetch in which the contestants did this to solve a crime and she wanted this included in her party. 

So I gathered some of the black markers in our house, and found four

whose ink compositions were significantly distinct,

and used them to prepare four separate ink samples on coffee filter papers (no reason other than we had lots of them at home). These were the reference samples 

to which the kids could compare the chromatogram of the ink on the note found at the crime scene.

There was also an invisible message between the lines. However, it wasn't an actual clue to the mystery, and we'll explain that in the final post.


  1. So brilliant! Wish I could've been a mouse in the corner when all this investigating was going on! :)

  2. Wow, you did it again, what a wonderful, original and fun party!! I'm eager to read the final post. Thank you so much for sharing every little detail, our birthdays wouldn't be the same without your great ideas!

  3. Can you post the actually plan of party? It is gorgeous! I would like to do something like that with my children

  4. What did you use for the invisible ink?

    1. lizrey63: the invisible ink is from a UV pen. More information can be found in this earlier post:

  5. Where did you get the layout for the dossiers? I would love to have that template for a Breakout activity.

    1. Hi Dona,

      You can buy the PDF file containing the layout and other materials for the Mystery Party here:


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