Pull out a magnifying glass and a notebook, because you need to find the thief in the Detective Classroom Transformation! Students will complete academic challenges and discover who the culprit is. They will become detectives for the day as they solve math activities while figuring out who the thief is! This detective classroom transformation aligns with multiple common core math standards. Here it is for grades K-5.
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STEP 1: SETTING THE STAGE FOR YOUR DETECTIVE CLASSROOM TRANSFORMATION
Tell your class they are going to become detectives solving a mystery right in your classroom!! Students will be reviewing different skills around the room at each station. The challenges can be completed in any order.
And the best part? You as the teacher are able to easily choose how many challenges students complete / what time frame they have to meet YOUR needs.
Setting up is really easy. Simply print the posters, challenges, and a recording sheet for each student. Place them around your room and you’re ready to begin! You can decorate as much or as little as you want to. Everything is included for you so it’s easy to pick and choose what you want to put up on this special day.
I print out the included posters and put them up around the room. It can also be a lot of fun to decorate the door with the detective posters so students see this as soon as they enter the school.
I also like to buy a few items from Amazon to display around the room like these detective notebooks, magnifying glasses, and mustaches for them to wear while they work! Students loved seeing them when they walked in.
I also put these footprints on the floor (included) for students to see leading into our room.
“Extras” certainly aren’t needed for room transformations, but they can be super fun if you want to include them! If you want to add any additional decorations, you may like some of these ideas:
Looking for even more ideas? I’ve got you covered right here with my Classroom Transformation Decoration Lists!
STEP 2: PREPARE FOR STUDENTS TO ARRIVE
On each student’s desk, I put an admission ticket that really gets them excited for our day together. Many of my students enjoy using the admission ticket as a bookmark for the rest of the week too.
Putting a name tag on their desk for them to wear while working can add in some extra pizzazz too. I let them tape it to their shirt with a piece of masking tape so it’s no extra work for me.
Another important thing to do is add directions to your whiteboard or Smart TV for students to see when they enter. This lets students know what to expect and sets the scene right from the beginning. You can actually grab this slide for FREE along with 40 Free Room Transformation Slides! Scroll up a bit and you’ll see the link. It’s completely customizable so you can edit it to say whatever you prefer. There are plenty options included in the free download for many room transformation themes.
I print out the station posters and challenges. These get placed around the room. Students will travel around the room during the detective classroom transformation and complete a challenge at each poster. I set this up in the morning before my students come in so everything’s ready to go. Set-up is quick and easy.
STEP 3: HOW TO COMPLETE THE DETECTIVE CLASSROOM TRANSFORMATION
When all students have arrived, set your expectations for the day. Make sure students know that this is a learning experience and a privilege. If you put behavior expectations in place before starting, the room transformation will run much more smoothly and set you up to have a GREAT day.
There are a few things to consider discussing with your class before beginning…how will they be working? In groups? Partners? Independently? Do they get to choose? How many challenges will they need to complete before they finish? How much time will they have to complete the activities? Do they need to show their work? What will they do when they’re done? Decide the answers to these questions beforehand so you can prepare students for a wonderful experience.
When you’re ready to begin, explain to students they will receive a recording sheet and will be going around the room to complete different challenges! Each time they finish a challenge, they need to bring you both the challenge they completed and their recording sheet for you to mark.
You can see in this example that the student finished the “Diego Challenge”, so I initialed that box on their recording sheet.
Another awesome part of this room transformation is the clues students get to solve! When students finish each challenge, they’re given a clue that helps them figure out the mystery of which high school student stole the missing candy! You can see in this picture that the clues are kept in buckets across the table. When students finish the first challenge, they go to bucket #1. When they finish another challenge, they go to bucket #2 (and so on).
There are multiple versions of the clues. Clues that are easy, medium, and hard. The clues with no words are great for kindergartners to help them solve the mystery. Then, there are basic clues like (the person who did it is not wearing red) and hard clues (the person who did it has no vowels in their name). Choose the version of clues that works best for you!
My FAVORITE way to use the clues is to write the clues I want to use in invisible ink on a piece of paper. Then, students use their invisible ink pens I give them to read each clue. This makes it incredibly engaging!
When students finish a challenge, they get to choose another one to complete. Sometimes I have my class do all 10 challenges, and sometimes I only have them complete 5 or 6. It just depends on the class, the day, and what skill we’re working on. Do what works best for your class. These room transformations are meant to be flexible and are also 100% editable! If there’s a skill your students haven’t learned yet, or you live in a state where that standard doesn’t apply, simply edit the content to what you need instead.
- Kindergarten Detective Classroom Transformation
- 1st Grade Detective Classroom Transformation
- 2nd Grade Detective Classroom Transformation
- 3rd Grade Detective Classroom Transformation
- 4th Grade Detective Classroom Transformation
- 5th Grade Detective Classroom Transformation
- Reading Detective Room Transformation
- Reading Detective Add On Pack
While students are working, I find it’s best to either circle the room to “touch base” with how students are doing or stay in one central location where students can come to you to be checked. This is also a perfect opportunity to invite parent volunteers into the classroom so they can help you check student papers.
I like to have students work in partners or table groups so kids can help each other while working. This means there are less students coming over to me frequently with papers needing to be checked and allows me to help struggling students who may get stuck.
STEP 4: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE DONE?
When students finish all of their work, I like to reward them with a small prize. It can be something simple like a pencil, a dojo point, a HW pass, or something detective themed! My favorite choice is letting them keep their invisible ink pen! It’s a great way to motivate them to keep going till the end since they REALLY want to keep it!
My students always get a certificate to take home with them too. This creates a great talking point for students with parents when they see it. Parents will ask what the certificate is for and students always really enjoy explaining what we did in class that day. I’ve gotten many happy emails from parents thanking me for doing activities like this with their child–and they found out about it through the certificate in their child’s backpack!
When students start to finish, they’re going to start saying “now what?”. Make sure to have an activity ready to go for those fast finishers so everyone else can continue working. I like to have students learn fun facts about detectives during this time. This is included for you in 3 formats so you can choose the one that works best for you.
- You can print out the posters and hang them around the room. Then, students travel around the room and copy down the fun facts.
- Print out the QR codes and hide them around your room. Students scan the QR codes with a tablet and write down the fun facts on a sheet of paper.
- Let them use the Google Slides version! Students click on detective items to “hunt down” the fun facts.
Do you have younger-aged students? Or maybe you would like your students to do something independently at their seats after they finish? A coloring page can be a great activity for students who finish early too. Let students relax those brains with some artwork in the coloring page provided for you. When I choose this option, I let students decide between hanging the picture on the side of their desk for the rest of the week or taking it home to show their parents.
And that’s it! That’s the step by step guide on how to complete a Detective Classroom Transformation! Keep reading for some additional tips to make your day even more fun!
DIGITAL CLASSROOM TRANSFORMATIONS
I also offer all room transformations in a DIGITAL format! This means students can complete the challenges on Google Slides if you’d like to save on paper. The QR codes/fun facts also come in a digital game format that students can complete and copy down online. You can learn more about how to do a digital room transformation here.
Things to Consider Before Doing a Detective Room Transformation
What will students do while waiting for the fun to begin?
If your class is anything like mine, they all come in at different times in the morning. Arrival is a 30 minute long period. I can’t have students start to complete activities right away or half of my class would miss the instructions. To keep students busy while they wait for everyone to arrive, I like to make them put together a hat that they can wear during the room transformation!
Or, choose a hat and add a nametag to the front!
And the kids who come in later can have a friend help them put one together quickly or opt out of the hat. Remember, making a hat certainly isn’t necessary but having something in place for your students when they come in is! Other ideas include reading a book or completing a morning work activity of your choosing while they wait for the room transformation activity to begin.
Make sure you know where student work will go when students finish.
Let students help you when the day’s over.
You may also find this post on Classroom Transformation Tips helpful. It lists my top 10 tips for making your classroom transformation easy and stress-free.