Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables



This is the perfect theme to practice observation skills with your group! No need for a magnifying glass to find great craft, workshop, and cognitive activities...

In the Educatall Club
Coloring pages, word flashcards, picture game, and activity sheets to complement your theme

Educatall Club
Educatall Club

ALL THEMES See 2024 schedule


CIRCLE TIMEEduca-decorate-Detectives-1

Dress up like a detective to introduce the theme. Make your own oversized magnifying glass for a special touch. We have prepared a thematic letter for you. (Open thematic letter-Detectives) Print the letter and place it in a colorful envelope. Leave the envelope in an easy to find location within the daycare. Have children search for it and read portions of the letter to them each day.


A treasure hunt to discover the theme

(Open educa-decorate-Detectives) Print and laminate. Set items throughout the daycare. Have children search for them. Name the items as they find them and encourage your group to guess the theme.


Animated discussion-Detectives

(Open picture game-Detectives) Print and laminate the pictures in the format you prefer. Use them to spark a conversation with your group. Ask children questions about the theme.


Illustrated circle time boardPicture game-Detectives-1

(Open picture game-Detectives) Print several pictures related to the theme. Stick them on a large piece of cardboard and laminate it. During circle time, use your illustrated board to present different items associated with your theme to your group. Give each child a dry-erase marker. Every time a child identifies an item on your board, have him circle it with his marker. This will help younger children visualize what you are talking about.




(Open models-footprints) Print and deposit the footprints on the floor, on the walls, etc. Hang magnifying glasses from the ceiling or use them to decorate walls.


Thematic poster-Detectives

(Open thematic poster-Detectives) Print, laminate, and display where children are sure to see it.



(Open educa-theme-Detectives) Print and laminate the different elements representing the theme. Use them to present the theme to your group (and children’s parents) while decorating your daycare.



(Open educa-decorate-Detectives) Print, laminate, and cut out the illustrations. Use them to decorate your walls and set the mood for the theme.



(Open stickers-Detectives) Print the illustrations on adhesive paper and use them to create a collection of unique stickers. Use them to reward children throughout the theme.


Detective of the dayDetective of the day

(Open detective of the day) Print, laminate, and display in your daycare. Add the picture of the child who gets to be the detective of the day every morning.


Purchase a roll of yellow “caution” tape and use it to draw a large “X” on your door or to delimit various areas within your daycare. (Open models-Question mark) Print the model and trace it several times on various colors of Fun Foam. Cut out the question marks and hang them from the ceiling in your daycare. Use invisible wire to connect both parts of the punctuation sign, letting the dot hang a few centimeters below the other part.




The pictures may be used as a memory game or to spark a conversation with your group. Use them to decorate your daycare or a specific thematic corner. (Open picture game-Detectives) Print, laminate, and store in a Ziploc bag or in your thematic bin.


Memory game-SailorsActivity-sheets-Detectives

(Open picture game-Detectives) Print the pictures twice and use them for a memory game.




(Open activity sheets-Detectives) Print and follow instructions.


Writing activities-D like detective

(Open writing activities-D like detective) Print for each child or laminate for use with a dry-erase marker.


Educa-nuudles-DetectivesWriting activities-D like detective

(Open educa-nuudles-Detectives) Print for each child. Have children color the sheet. Once they are done, they may use Magic Nuudles to turn the coloring pages into three-dimensional works of art.

Variation: If you do not have Magic Nuudles, ask children to fill the spaces designed for Magic Nuudles with bingo markers or stickers.




Have fun with these wonderful workshop ideas provided by Caroline Allard.


Construction and building blocks:

  • Add magnifying glasses to your building blocks. Children can use them to create all kinds of scenes.
  • LEGO blocks can be used to build a police station or a prison.
  • Various figurines.

Arts & crafts:Educa-nuudles-Detectives

  • Construction paper, cardboard, and cellophane paper for making magnifying glasses or binoculars.
  • Different shapes of stamps and stamp pads (or poster paint).
  • Light brown or grey cardboard to make a detective's hat.


  • Coloring pages involving detectives and the accessories they use.
  • Creative coloring activity.

Role play:

  • Create your own detective's costume using a trench coat, a hat, a magnifying glass, a notebook, a pen, a walkie-talkie, binoculars, a camera, and handcuffs.
  • Place a stamp pad for fingerprints, numbered cardboard cards for mug shots, paper, crayons, and a typewriter in your area.Stickers-Detectives
  • A prisoner costume.


  • Memory game using the illustrations from the picture game.
  • Guess who game.
  • Observation and hunt and seek games.


  • Books about detectives.
  • I spy books.


  • Hunt and seek games.Educa-decorate-Detectives-2
  • Various activity sheets related to the theme.
  • Games using word flashcards.
  • Tracing and maze games.
  • Laminated illustrations children can trace using dry-erase markers.
  • Observation games.
  • Magnifying glass games.

Early science:

  • Explore magnifying glasses! Provide several different objects children can study with all kinds of magnifying glasses.



Word flashcards

Giant word flashcards-Detectives-1


Use the word flashcards to spark a conversation with your group or in your reading and writing area. They may also be used to identify your thematic bins. (Open word flashcards-Detectives) (Open giant word flashcards-Detectives) fingerprint, stamp pad, magnifying glass, hat, prison, binoculars, badge, pencil, notebook, trench coat, handcuffs, spy


Yes or no game

(Open game-yes or no) Print the pictures and glue them directly on a piece of opaque cardboard. Laminate and cut them out. For this game, you will need a pair of dark sunglasses. They will become “detective glasses”. Glue a large paperclip on the front of the glasses, between the eyes. Children take turns wearing your detective glasses. Once they have them on their face, slide a picture in the paperclip. The “detective” asks the other children questions about the picture. The goal is to correctly identify the item. The other children may only answer the detective’s questions with “yes” or “no”.

 Game yes or no

Clues to find the guilty character

(Open find the guilty character) Print and laminate the various files and insert each one in a file folder. Provide clues. Children must listen closely and mark the characters that do not match the clues with an “X” using a dry-erase marker. For example, if you say, “I am a man.”, children will draw an “X” on all the women. When they have only one character left, verify if they identified the correct character. With younger children, simply name a few characteristics and invite them to try to find the corresponding character. For example, you could say, “I am a woman and I am wearing a purple hat.”


Let’s chat

Print and laminate the theme’s word flashcards. Have each child pick a word. They can take turns presenting their word to the group (ex. a spy). Discuss each item and ask children questions to see what they know about the theme.

 Find the guilty character-1

Word clothesline

(Open word flashcards-Detectives) (Open giant word flashcards-Detectives) Print two copies of several word flashcards. Hang one copy of each word on an indoor clothesline with colourful clothespins. Arrange the copies in a pile on a table. Let children take turns picking a word and finding the matching word on the clothesline. When they find a match, they can place the flashcard on top of the one that was already hanging on the clothesline. Help younger children manipulate the clothespins if necessary.


Word race

(Open word flashcards-Detectives) (Open giant word flashcards-Detectives) Print several word flashcards and hide them throughout your daycare or yard. Divide your group into two teams. When you give them the signal, children must search for the flashcards for a pre-determined period, for example three minutes. When the time is up, children must be able to “read” their flashcards to earn a point for their team. If they are unable to find the correct word, the other team can earn the point if they succeed.

 Giant word flashcards-Detectives-2

Associating words and pictures

(Open giant word flashcards-Detectives) (Open word flashcards-Detectives) Print, laminate, and display the word flashcards on a wall or a large piece of cardboard that can be moved around. Name a word and have children identify the corresponding word flashcard.



(Open scene-Detectives) Print, laminate, and cut out the items. Children use them to decorate the scene.


Point to (or name) the items

(Open word flashcards-Detectives) (Open giant word flashcards-Detectives) Print, laminate, and display the word flashcards on a wall in your circle time area or on a board that can be moved around. Children take turns identifying or naming an illustrated item related to the theme.




Scanning hands

(Open scanning hands) Print several posters. Color the hands using different colors before laminating them. Display a few posters on the wall in areas where children must wait for their turn each day (next to the bathroom, close to your daycare exit, in your cloakroom, etc.). When children are waiting in line, tell them that their hand must be scanned before they may have access to the bathroom, yard, etc. You could, for example, say, “Jeremy, use the red handprint.” Children must press their hand on the poster of the corresponding color.


Book detectives

(Open bookmarks-Detectives) Print and cut out the bookmarks. Photograph the children in your group individually. Print the pictures and use a large round hole-punch to cut each child’s face out of a picture. Children can glue their face on the bookmark they prefer. Daily, select 3 to 5 books for each child and set them in a pile on a table in your reading corner. Slide each child’s bookmark inside one of the books you have chosen. Before naptime or during a reading period, invite children to discover the books you hand-picked for them.


The detective path

(Open models-Detectives) Print several pictures. Secure them on the floor to draw a path throughout your daycare. Children will love walking on the pictures during the theme.


Detective cloakroom

For the duration of the theme, transform your cloakroom to make it look like a crime scene. Show children how they must always place their “equipment” in the same place. (Open identification cards-Detectives) Give each child an identification card and encourage them to decorate it as they wish. Photograph each child and print the pictures. Children can glue their picture on their identification card. Help children press their identification card above their hook in the cloakroom. Time children to encourage them to get ready to go outside as quickly as possible, as if they were called to a crime scene.




Number detectives

(Open game-Number detectives) Print for each child. You will need 3 small opaque drinkable yogurt bottles per child. Using a permanent marker, write 1, 2, and 3 on each set of bottles. Insert a certain number of marbles in each bottle and wrap the spouts with aluminum paper. For example, one bottle could contain very few marbles (1 or 2), the second bottle could contain 5 marbles and the third bottle could contain between 6 and 9 marbles. Encourage children to manipulate the bottles and, like detectives, pay close attention to try to guess how many marbles each bottle contains. Have them draw the corresponding number of marbles in each bottle. When they are done, they can pour the marbles out of one bottle at a time (supervision required) to see if they are good detectives.


Fingerprint maze

(Open maze-Fingerprints) Print for each child. Invite children to find the correct path. Once they have succeeded, encourage them to press their finger on a stamp pad and then along the path, filling it with fingerprints from start to finish.Maze-Fingerprints


Detective hunt

(Open miniature detectives) Print and laminate. Hide the pictures throughout your daycare and invite children to search for them. The child who finds the most fingerprints can hide them for the next round.


Magnetic detectives

(Open models-Detectives) Print, color, and laminate the models. Next, glue them on magnetic paper. Set them around a metal baking sheet and let children use the magnets to create stories and scenes on the metallic surface.


Modeling dough activity placemats-Detectives

(Open modeling dough activity placemats-Detectives) Print and laminate. Let children pick a placemat and provide modeling dough. Encourage them to use the dough to fill or reproduce the shapes that are on their placemat.


Follow the detective

Children hold hands. They must follow the rhythm and reproduce the actions of the child who is first in line. They must, for example, walk slowly or quickly, stomp their feet, tiptoe, pretend to climb a ladder to better see a crime scene, etc.


Illustrated detectives

Collect several pictures and illustrations containing detectives and display them throughout your daycare. Press them on walls, cupboards, and even the floor. Children will love discovering the detectives as they move within their environment.


Beware of the detective

Pick a child who will be the detective. He runs after the other children until he touches one of his peers. The child who was touched then becomes the detective.


Detective game
Provide several magnifying glasses and let children pretend they are detectives. Encourage them to walk around the daycare observing various objects (plastic insects, small cars, feathers, crayons, etc.)

 Modeling dough activity placemats-Detectives

Who is missing?
Play music and invite children to walk around the daycare. When the music stops, ask children to lie down on the floor and hide their eyes. Cover a child with a blanket. When you give the signal, children stand up and try to guess who is missing.


Guess who
Blindfold one child. To the sound of music, the other children walk around him. When the music stops, the child wearing the blindfold must guess who is standing in front of him by touching his hands. Children must be very quiet!


Eye of the tiger
One child (or yourself) selects a pose (for example, standing with arms raised). The other children observe closely, and then close their eyes for a few minutes. While their eyes are closed, the first child changes his pose somewhat (instead of having his arms raised he could stick out his tongue, for example). When the other children open their eyes, they must identify what has changed.




Tracks here, tracks there

Collect a few boots and shoes with soles that will leave clear markings. Press each one in black poster paint and then on Fun Foam sheets of different colors. Press each boot and shoe several times on each color of Fun Foam. Cut out the tracks, keeping one copy of each track and in each color for yourself. Hide the other tracks in your yard. Give each child one track. They must find the identical tracks. They can search only for tracks that are the same color or all the corresponding tracks, regardless of the color. Very young children can simply collect tracks that are the same color as the one you gave them.


Detective tag

One child plays the role of the detective. He must try to capture his peers. When he touches a child, he tickles him and this child becomes the detective for the next round.


The detective says…Find the guilty character-2

Just as in “Simon says…”, you give children instructions. They must execute them only if you say, “The detective says…” first.



Wet the sand in your sandbox prior to going outside with your group. Press several boots and shoes in the sand to create tracks. Set the boots and shoes next to your sandbox. Children look at the soles and associate them with the correct tracks.


I watch closely
Set up an observation table with several objects related to vision (magnifying glass, binoculars, mirror, colourful cellophane paper). Children can observe a variety of objects using the available tools.


Neighborhood watch
Discover your neighborhood! Give each child a magnifying glass and let them observe items found in nature, fences, or anything else which may interest them.


My investigation
Be on the lookout for traffic signs, billboards, etc. Invite children to investigate using magnifying glasses. Provide clues and a list of items children must find. Remember to jot down their observations and comments!




Investigating my family
(Open family book) Encourage children to question their parents to help them piece together their family history. Parents can write the name of each family member or add a picture in the spaces provided.




Counting footprints

(Open counting footprints) Print the various types of tracks several times and press them here and there, on your daycare floor. Each type of track must be pressed on the floor between 2 and 10 times. Give each child a printed sheet and encourage them to walk around the daycare. Every time they spot a footprint, they must find the corresponding footprint on their sheet and draw a checkmark under it. At the end of the activity, children count the checkmarks under each footprint and compare results.


Word locks

For this activity, you will need an empty toilet paper roll for each word flashcard. First, wrap each cardboard roll loosely using colorful paper. Use adhesive tape to secure both ends of the paper together and then carefully slide the colored paper off the rolls. Glue one word flashcard on each colorful paper tube placed horizontally in front of you and then cut the tubes vertically, creating sections containing part of the words. Slide the loops that contain the letters of each word back on a cardboard tube, turning them like a lock to mix them up. Display the word flashcards. Children can use them as models. They must manipulate, twist, and turn the loops to realign the letters and write the words.

 Counting cards-Detectives-1

Counting cards-Detectives

(Open counting cards-Detectives) Print and laminate. Prepare a series of wooden clothespins on which you can paint or draw numbers 1 to 9. Children count the items on each card and place the corresponding clothespin on the correct number.



(Open educa-symmetry-Detectives) Print. Children must color the picture on the bottom to make it look exactly like the one on the top.



(Open puzzles-Detectives) Print, laminate, and cut out. Children use the pieces to complete the puzzles.


Game-Four detectivesEduca-symmetry-Detectives

(Open game-Four detectives) Print, glue the cards on opaque cardboard, and cut them out. Arrange all the cards upside down on the floor or table (so you can’t see the illustrations). Children take turns rolling a die. Every time a child rolls a “1”, he can turn a card. If he doesn’t already have this detective in front of him, he keeps it and places it in front of him for everyone to see. The first child who has collected all four detectives wins.


Find the culprit

(Open find the culprit) Print for each child. Read the characteristics at the bottom of the page to help children identify the culprits by writing the corresponding number in the square under each picture.


License plate game

(Open game-License plates) Print, laminate, and cut out two copies of each license plate. Arrange one set of license plates in a pile in the center of the table. Divide the second set of license plates among the children in your group. Turn one license plate from the pile over. As a group, read the letters and numbers printed on it. Children look at their license plates. The child who has the matching license plate hands it to you.


Magnifying glass gamePuzzles-Detectives
(Open magnifying glass game-Detectives) Print. Laminate the board game and the cards. Cut them out and store them in a box or plastic bag. Children pick a card and search for the item on the board game, using a magnifying glass. Once they have found the item, they deposit the card in the correct square, on the board game.


What is different?
Deposit sheets of construction paper on a table and place a different object on each sheet. Observe the objects and name them with your group. Ask children to look closely at where each object is located. Invite them to close their eyes and move a few objects around. Children must determine which objects were moved and return them to their starting locations.


Little detectives
Collect items you may add to your clothing and deposit them in a separate room. Add one or two items at a time and ask children to find what is different each time you enter the room.

 Game Four detectives

Follow that glass!
Set three opaque drinking glasses on a table and hide a tiny object under a glass. Ask children to follow the glass containing the object with their eyes. Move the glasses around several times. When you are done, children must guess which glass the object is under. Detectives must be very good at observing!


What is missing?
Set several objects on a table. Encourage children to observe them. Cover the objects with a detective's trench coat (or blanket) and remove one object. Children must identify the missing object.


Investigation in the kitchen
Show children several different kitchen utensils or accessories. Blindfold one child and place an object in his hands. Let him manipulate it. Ask him to guess what he is holding. Of course, this game can be done with all kinds of objects.




Sticks of dynamite

Wrap 5 empty paper towel rolls with red wrapping paper. Pile them one on top of the other to form a pyramid and tie all the dynamite sticks together by wrapping them with black electrical tape a few centimeters from the top and bottom. Glue yellow pipe cleaners that you have somewhat twisted at the top of each roll (spark). Attach a small timer to your dynamite and set it so that it will ring in approximately 30 seconds. Children sit in a circle and pass the dynamite around. Tell them that they must do so very gently so as to avoid an explosion. When the timer rings, shout, “Boom!” very loudly. Children will jump. Use this activity to discuss emotions such as surprise and fear with your group. Help them understand what stress feels like too.


Mystery readersMystery reader sheet

(Open mystery reader sheet) Print one sheet per family. Families who have a family member that would like to participate in story time and come read a book to the group can complete the sheet and return it to you. Establish a schedule. Each day, before your mystery reader arrives, read the clues to your group. Encourage your little detectives to guess who will be reading to them.


Hide a "treasure" within the daycare. Draw a map and indicate where the treasure is hidden with an "X". Cut the map into five pieces and hide the pieces within the daycare. Divide the group into two teams and have them search for the pieces. Once they have found all the pieces, have them place them correctly to recreate the map and find the treasure!


Guess what I am writing
Each child selects a partner. The first child traces a shape or letter on his partner's back. The second child must try to identify it.




Discovering fingerprints

Before children arrive in the morning, press your finger in white poster paint and make several impressions on a few pieces of black construction paper. Let dry and set the pieces of paper on the bottom of a plastic bin. Pour a fine layer of flour or icing sugar over the paper. Provide small paintbrushes and invite children to delicately dust the flour or sugar off to discover the fingerprints, like detectives. You may also provide magnifying glasses that they can use to observe them.

 My detective file

Insect inspector
Search for insects using magnifying glasses, butterfly nets, and tiny exploration containers. You may also use a plastic container. Just punch holes in the lid. Explore bushes, grass, soil, etc. Children will love to observe the insects they find.


My fingerprints
(Open model-fingerprints) Press children's fingers on a stamp pad and make prints. You can use this activity to show children the name of each finger.




My detective file

(Open my detective file) Print on adhesive paper for each child. Give each child a file folder. Invite them to color the labels. Next, they can glue them on their file folder to create a file they can use when they are playing detective games.


My little SherlockMy little Sherlock

(Open my little Sherlock) Print for each child. Give each child a beige or brown piece of construction paper (skin color) that you have previously cut in half when it was placed horizontally in front of you. Invite children to color and cut out the collar and detective hat, the eyes, the hand, and the magnifying glass. Children draw their detective’s hair at the top of the construction paper or, if they prefer, they can glue pieces of yarn to represent hair. Next, they press the hat on top of the hair. The collar must be glued on the bottom of their construction paper. The eyes must of course be glued under the hair. Children can glue a piece of cellophane paper in the center of their magnifying glass before gluing it over the larger eye. They can draw a mouth to complete their character.


Detective magnifying glass
(Open model-magnifying glass) Print for each child. Use cardboard for the handle and acetate paper for the glass. Children can use their magnifying glass to pretend they are detectives.


Use two empty toilet paper rolls to make binoculars. Let children decorate them. Glue them side by side. Make two small holes on either side of the rolls and thread a piece of string through them. Children will love wearing their binoculars around their neck.


My detective hatPicture game-Detectives-2
(Open detective hat) Print for each child. Let them color and decorate their hat as they wish.


Stamp banner
Purchase several stamp pads in different colors and a variety of rubber stamps. Let children stamp away on a large piece of white paper to create an original banner.


Souvenir frame
Take a picture of each child dressed up as either a detective or a prisoner. Use cardboard to create an original frame and insert each child's picture.


Use washable stamp pads. Ask children to reproduce shapes, drawings, or their fingerprints by pressing their fingers on the stamp pads. Show them how to make pets by using their thumb to print a head, their index for the body, and a marker to draw four tiny lines to represent cat or dog legs.


Provide different colors of construction paper. Let each child choose a color and tell them they must draw someone or something which is missing. Display the signs on a wall for parents to see.


Identification-cardsIdentification card
(Open identification cards) Print for each child. Have each child prepare his own identification card to prove that they are real detectives. When they are done, you can add their picture or laminate the card for durability.




Creative coloring
(Open creative coloring-Detectives) Print for each child. Ask children to draw what they see in the detective's magnifying glass.


Coloring pages
(Open coloring pages theme-Detectives) Print for each child.




Like a detectiveColoring pages theme-Detectives

by: Patricia Morrison

sung to: Row, row, row your boat


Look, look, through the glass
Magnifying glass
Find the clues, find the clues,
Find the clues, find the clues
Like a detective



Have fun!

The Educatall team


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