Monday, May 5, 2008

Party!

Elisa had her 9th birthday party over the weekend. It was a mystery party arranged and hosted by Aaron. The kids were characters who had to investigate their parents' possible involvement in a train robbery. They each had an heirloom that could give them a clue whether their parents were guilty. After going over the heirlooms, they then had clues to decipher to find out more about the crime. Some of the clues were letter substitutions, riddles, pictographs, words encoded from a book, anagrams, and word scrambles. Once the clues were solved, they gave the characters some place to search for their final clue. All of the kids were given a map of the town (different rooms in the house were the trading post, desert, saloon, train station, mining shaft, mayor's house, telegraph office) and then had to go find their clues. After these last clues were uncovered, Aaron led the kids through opening each one individually and discussing what they might mean for the guilt or innocence of some of the ancestors. Here are just SOME of the props that Aaron created in order to set the mood and lead the kids to determine the solution: There was an obituary, two love letters, an initialed wallet, a hat with an inscription, an article about the robbery, a photograph, a map, a map overlay (the 'x' was on a transparency that could lead to three different locations--the kids had to investigate them all to find the treasure), an invisible mark on a gold nugget (a rock painted with gold paint), a stamp with a note from the owner of the treasure, an article about a morse code contest, a doctor's notebook, the sheriff's notebook...AND MORE! It was really amazing how well the kids figured things out--even coming up with some scenarios we hadn't at all considered. They really had their thinking caps on. Aaron stayed 'in character' for the party and the kids really got a kick out of his accent and story. The kids got so excited at this point that we sometimes had a hard time getting them to settle down and open the next clue. Most importantly, Elisa had a great time and all of the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves. This was really great because we had quite a disparate group of kids: a friend from pre-school, a friend from Massachussetts (how awesome that she made the trip), friends from her old school, and friends made from our homeschool astronomy course. They all played together.

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