On another page here on this site you will find everything you need to make a detective school and a treasure hunt, see the links below (at the bottom of this page), and I think for smaller kids either of those will be enough for a whole birthday.
The detective games described here below are best for older children, kids aged 6 and up.
Who Stole the Treasure?
You decorate a box with gold paper or silver, or anything else that will make it look “expensive” as if it has been the container of a treasure.
Make it look as if it has been wrenched open, maybe some colored tape has been forced apart.
Also you take the fingerprints of yourself or another person at the birthday party, the one person who will later be revealed as the thief.
Ways to lift fingerprints:
Method 1: This is a great way to have the fingerprints take, especially for the kids later, but also a bit difficult.
Place the “thief”s fingerprints on a clean glass or cup. Sprinkle with talcum, and then brush carefully with a very soft brush until only the lines in the fingerprint are visible.
Place a piece of clear tape on the fingerprint, lift it and place the tape on black cardboard.
Method 2: Use an ink pad/stamp pad, and save the fingerprints on white cardboard.
Method 3: Use a lipstick or other kinds of color that can easily be washed off.
Now you bring it to the birthday guests, telling a story about how this box contained a priceless item, or maybe you just tell it contained the candy bags for the birthday guests.
But – it has been stolen, and you don’t know who took it! It was there when the birthday party started, so it will have to be someone at the party!
Depending on the age of the birthday guest either you help them make a little black card with their fingerprints and name, or you let them do it themselves. If they are old enough to do it, even with a little help, they will just love it.
After all the kids have a piece of cardboard with their fingerprints, you all should compare the fingerprints to find the thief. It is actually quite difficult to make the fingerprints clear enough to make a real comparison, so you will have to lead here. If done right, none of the guests have a fingerprint that matches, so now the big question is: “Who else has been here at the party all the time??”
If the kids don’t come up with the guess that it could be you or another adult, then you will have to help them to think of it.
Next your fingerprints should be lifted from a glass or using color or lipstick, with all the kids monitoring you doing it – and finally you will have to admit that you are the thief!!
Now you can end the game by admitting what you did, and telling them that you just love candy so much that you simply had to take it, and showing the kids where you have hidden the candy bags.
Or you can continue the game by giving the kids one or more clues to where to find the candy.
Interrogation of a Suspected Criminal
As detectives the guests must be able to distinguish lies from truth, so this is one of the games kids can play to become better detectives.
So you present to them a suspected criminal, someone who is your helper, disguised with false hair and glasses and so on.
This suspect shall now tell his/her story about what happened, with some evident false statements. The kids must be placed in front of the suspect and then they can raise an arm every time they notice a lie. If you don’t have a helper, you can read or tell this statement from a suspect and ask them to react when they notice a something wrong.
The younger the kids, the more emphasis you will have to put on the false statement.
Here are two stories you can use, or use as models:
Story number 1: It Wasn’t Me Who Took The Bike!
It really wasn’t me who took the bike, it was this little girl with red hair and a blue dress.
Here is how it all happened, the truth and only the truth.
It was a loveIy summer morning so I got up very early, because the sun shone in through my window. There wasn’t any milk in the refrigerator so I went to buy some. I dressed and took my umbrella with me because it was raining, and I was wearing my rubber boots.
I had to go to the supermarket to get bread, but the bus was stuck in a snowdrift and I started walking. Suddenly this big dog jumped right at me and tried to bite my leg, but fortunately I was wearing my cowboy boots made of thick leather, and the dog only managed to get his teeth stuck in the boot.
So I went on with this dog’s teeth fixed into my umbrella, which actually was rather heavy with the dog and all, and finally I left the dog and the walking stick in a garbage container.
Now I was really hungry and when I arrived at the supermarket I bought my vegetables and my clothes, and when I came out this little girl in at dress as yellow as the sun was looking at a black bike. She looked really nice with blue eyes and yellow curly hair, and I asked if it was her bike? She looked at me with her big innocent brown eyes and told me yes, this was her bike, but sadly she had forgotten the code to the lock. She was crying so much that her red dress was all soaked.
I thought I’d better help this little boy so I took the nipper I had in my pocket and cut the lock of the bike open. Just wanted to help the little old woman to have her green bike back. She thanked me many times for helping her with her beautiful red bike, but then suddenly she was gone and two policemen said I was stealing the silver-colored bike, but I wasn’t, I was just helping!
So now you see, I am quite innocent, I didn’t do it!
Story number 2: The Man Who Didn’t Steal the Valuables, as True as His Name Was Irving
I DO know that the police caught me in the middle of the night with a bag full of silver plates and jewelry, but I am innocent, and now I’m going to tell you all about what happened!. When you hear my story I am sure you will agree with me that I am totally innocent and that I have been terribly mistreated by being arrested.
My name is Jack the Cat, and I have this awful illness that means I can only go out during nighttime.
So the other night I went for a walk. It was a beautiful night, the moon was full and the stars were shining from a cloudless sky. But as I peacefully strolled down the street I suddenly heard a woman calling for help! It sounded like it came from the top floor, maybe the seventh or eights floor of this huge, tall building to the left.
As true as my name is John the Piper I cannot resist helping a woman in need of help, so I went into this garden to see what was happening. It was very dark because it was cloudy and drizzling, but I finally managed to find this teeny-tiny small cottage with a brown door. I rang the bell, but it was broken, so instead I opened the white door and went in.
The hall I came into was huge, with a huge staircase leading up to the upper floor. I called “Hello” several times but nobody answered.
As I hadn’t made a sound since passing the doorstep I didn’t know if there was anybody in the house. Now I thought about going home again, because I knew it wouldn’t look good if somebody suddenly saw me there, but as true as my name is Peter Blackbeard I couldn’t leave a damsel in distress, so I went up the staircase without looking into any of the rooms downstairs.
I knew there wasn’t anybody in the library on the ground floor because the curtains were drawn and the moon shone in. Totally empty, so the man who had cried for help had to be upstairs.
I searched all the rooms but I certainly didn’t steal anything, as true as my name is Jack the Cat, and I simply don’t understand how all the jewelry and the silver plates happened to be in my bag when the police caught me in the hall.
I would not make these stories as a competition, but just see how many of the false statements the kid detective can find, as a learning in becoming a detective.