Yesterday I gave an Introduction to Investigations Presentation to 3rd and 4th graders in Milwaukee. I love sharing detective stories, techniques, and tips with this age group! They have lots of energy, questions, answers, self-confidence and enthusiasm. We talked about detective skills, tools, and the five senses we all use when we're observing the world around us.
I showed them an image of an object and asked them to guess what it was. After everyone guessed incorrectly, I showed them an outline of the black and white image--which helped them figure out what the object was a cow. Before seeing the outlined image many viewers believe the image is a blood stain, foot print, and other objects.
I regularly use this image to teach folks a very important observation skill concept: "The eyes cannot see what the brain doesn't perceive."
Observation skill is the second most important skill a good detective possesses. The first is people skills (aka as interpersonal communication). My young 3rd and 4th graders easily grasped the meaning and value of good people skills and observation skills in detective work.
We also used cocoa powder, finger print brushes, light sources, and other tools to examine objects and collect latent prints. When our time was up, the classroom a little dirty, with latest gloves, goggles, and other items scattered everywhere; and it smelled like hot chocolate. Everyone had a good time!