St. Patrick's Day Mystery- Welcome to the Shamrock Detective Agency!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Welcome to the Shamrock Detective Agency! Our detectives were highly engaged as they solved the Case of the Tricky Leprechaun through math, literacy, science, STEM, art, and more!

Creating the Magic: The students walked into a crime scene where Finnegan O'Malley, the leprechaun, had ransacked the classroom. They had to uncover clues that would hopefully lead them to the capture of that tricky leprechaun.  Our students 
received their detective badges and became part of the Shamrock Detective Agency. The "detectives" immediately began working through different investigations to uncover clues in order to lead them to the tricky leprechaun.  

Building the Excitement: We read several leprechaun books in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, so that the students would be familiar with how mischievous and tricky leprechauns can be.  Our favorite book to read on the day before St. Patrick’s Day is How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace.  It’s the perfect set up for what is going to happen the following day.  We also sent the students home  with a “Breaking News” note for their parents to read to them the day before St. Patrick’s Day
The scene of the crime

Classroom Set Up: You can go as crazy as you want with this or keep it simple!  We hung crime scene tape (you could also use caution tape) outside of our classroom door and near the "crime" scene.  To keep costs down, you could also make your own crime scene or caution tape by cutting long strips of yellow butcher paper and writing CRIME SCENE or CAUTION on them.  Outside of the classroom door, we created a “mess” (dumped out math manipulatives and added little green footprints).   Inside of the classroom, we turned some chairs upside down, wrote on the white board with green marker, dumped some containers, turned items around or upside down, and spread gold coins and three and four leave clovers around. Let your inner leprechaun out!  To add to the authenticity of the crime scene, we made evidence markers and placed them around the room next to different pieces of “evidence” (the footprints, a turned over chair, a green crayon on the floor, etc.). We also created red evidence tape that we taped on boxes and paper lunch sacks. We spread these boxes and bags throughout the room to add an extra touch.

We also made leprechaun footprints by making a fist with our hand and painting the side of it with green paint.  We made “footprints” all over the classroom by pressing the side of our hand down and using our fingertip dipped in paint (we used tempera) to create the toes.  Soooooo cute and fun! We had them going up walls, walking across counters, and even a few in the bathroom!  

Remember, you can also keep this very simple. Especially if the idea of cleaning up leprechaun footprints and leprechaun messes, isn't your idea of a good time.  The day will still be very magical and fun with a few or even no extra touches.

Painting footprints

The Big Day: When the students arrived at school on St. Patrick’s Day, they walked inside to discover the classroom had been ransacked and there were little green footprints all around the classroom on counters, floors, tables, etc.  We looked around for clues to try to infer what happened.  We had the students come to our carpet area and discuss what happened, and who could have done it. Many of them said that they thought it was the tricky leprechaun!  

We asked them if they wanted to become detectives and join the Shamrock Detective Agency, so that we could try and catch the mischievous leprechaun.  Of course, it was a resounding YES! Students were given detective badges, plastic fedoras (Amazon, of course!  They are pretty cheap, and we use them for all kinds of things.  We just "Lysoled" them after use), case file folders (with all of their recording sheets stapled inside), and were sworn in.

Finnegan O’Malley, the leprechaun,  left them a note explaining that they could gather clues by completing investigations which would hopefully lead them to him at the end of the day.  After students finished an “investigation” or completed a “protocol procedure” (center), they got to see the clue from inside of the envelope at their center spot.  At the end of the center time, we gathered all of the envelopes, pulled out the clues, and unscrambled the sentence.  It said…"To find my gold, go take a look where you can find a ____.At this point, they saw that one clue is missing.  They found the envelope that had the final riddle from Finnegan glued to the front.  Once they figured out it was “book”, we went to our school library.  There, students found a note from Finnegan that said that they didn’t catch him this time but he left a little treat for all of their work and effort.  You can make treat bags using the topper included (we put Rolos or Lucky Charms inside) or you can leave a little pencil, sticker, or anything fun!  We also had small, green cupcakes waiting for them in the library!  You could also just leave a note without the treats.  They would be just as excited.

Students had all of their recording sheets in a case file folder

Protocol envelopes were at each center with directions and a clue inside

We had "investigations" where the students had to complete an academic task, and "Protocols" where the students were creating different leprechaun catching tools.  We did all of these tasks, but if time is an issue, just do a few.  We allowed about 15 minutes for each "investigation/protocol."

At this station, students completed a directed drawing of the leprechaun.  They also wrote the poster details.  They brainstormed the crimes he committed and wrote about one or more of them.  You could also split the drawing and writing into two different centers.

Direct drawing the leprechaun

Don't panic!  This is our sample, not one of our TK/kinder friends' wanted poster.  

Our students used these "Leprechaun Lookers" when they went in search of the leprechaun at the end of the day.  We printed them on white card stock for sturdiness and the students cut and colored them.  We actually put two of these together and taped a piece of green cellophane (which we had precut) in the middle for a fun twist!

A leprechaun loves to hide in small places and cannot resist candy and graham crackers especially green or rainbow candy. To complete this investigation, students had to build a graham cracker leprechaun house.  They also had to complete the How to Build a Leprechaun Recipe Sheet before and after building the house.  We made royal icing and put it in snack bags with a hole cut in the corner.  You could also use canned frosting too.  And yes, we did let them eat the houses!

We used this as a “Write the Room” or “Scoot” type of activity.  We cut and laminated the cards (for durability) and hung them around the room.  Since the students are detectives, you could even give them a magnifying glass to carry around the room as they hunt for the cards.  They had to write down the beginning sound of each picture to figure out the word.  Once they unlocked all of the clues, they wrote the word that answers the riddle.  

Students counted the coins in the gold pots and added them together.  Then, they used a clothespin to clip the correct answer.  They recorded their addition sentence on the recording sheet.  You could also have them draw coins in the empty pots or write the number.

Students used the plastic "gold" coins as manipulatives to help them solve the number bond puzzles.  We gave each student two recording sheets (both single sided so they could be written on easily in the case file folder).  We used mini plastic cauldrons to keep the gold in.  We had ours left over from Halloween, but you can also get them from Amazon (and yes, we wish we owned stock in Amazon!).

A week or so before St. Patrick's Day, we sent out a note and asked parents to send in empty and clean cereal boxes, oatmeal containers, yogurt containers, cracker boxes, and anything sparkly or gold.  We showed students the materials they had to work with.  We also reviewed the engineering design process with them.  They planned a design (recording sheet was stapled in their case file), built it, tried it out, and made any modifications necessary.  When the students were at lunch, we set the traps off so when they came back they could check it out to see if they caught that tricky leprechaun. Can you believe it, not one single kid caught one! 

We made four differentiated readers for our students.  The pictures are the same in every story, and the text is similar.  The differentiation is based on the decodable words and sight words.  The students read the color version and then colored their own copy to read and take home.  They loved this center!

This was so magical! We prepared the Leprechaun Rocks the day before. Go to for the exact recipe! Students investigated the rock and drew a picture of it in the first box on their recording sheet. Then they used the special solution (vinegar) that Finnegan left for them. They had to predict what would happen to their rock when they used the solution. Finally, they poured a little of the solution on the rock and recorded what happened. It was magical and the students were SO excited to find a gold coin hidden inside of their rock!

When the centers were over, we collected all of the clues and put the words in order to figure out where Finnegan was hiding.  Our parent volunteers helped by holding the clues up for everyone to see.  The day was simply magical!
Parents helped us unscramble the clues

This note was left in the library for the students

Little green cupcakes were waiting for our detectives

We had a blast as detectives!  We can't wait until our next mystery! 

One of our spirited teachers!

Click HERE to snag it in our TPT store!  

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Michelle and Linda

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