Mystery Factory


FREE Kids Party Games & SPY SCHOOL

MysteryFactory GumshoeParty On!

The Gumshoe Detective Agency kids party games have given us lots of experience sending kids off on adventures. From the thrill of the clue hunt to the daring of spy school, we have watched kids enjoy themselves Beat the Bombplaying with mysteries and want to share some of these exciting activities with you, so you can share them with your kids. We’ve scoured dusty books in old bookshops, searched cyberspace from beginning to end and watched innovative parents  with their children, in our quest to find some truly exciting games for our parties. We’re passing these winners on to you. Have a Dynamite Party!

Spy School

Send your party to Spy School! With these simple tools and games you can throw the kind of kid’s event that is the buzz of the playground. We’ve been doing it for awhile now, and the organizers have as much fun as the children. Kids Party Games Spy schoolFor that matter, these games work just as well with adults if you are looking to spice up a gathering of some kind; simply make the subject matter more grown up. Here’s the list of the free games which follow. Have fun! Life is too short to always be serious. Games can be played as activities or competitively.

Since your guests may not all show up at the same time, why not have a few disguise accessories ready for the ‘spies’ to try on & dress up in when they arrive? If they are well disguised and don’t say anything, perhaps their friends won’t recognize them. Parties with costumes are very engaging and unforgettable. Let the disguises begin!
Here’s a list of suggestions for your secret agent tickle trunk:

*Hats     *Scarves     *Sunglasses     *Fake mustache/beards     *Ties
*Flashy costume jewelry     *Boots & Shoes     *Purses & bags     *Eyepatches     *Hair gel for funky styles     *Walking sticks     *Lipstick, eyeshadow, makeup     *Glasses with the lenses removes     *Belts    *Fake noses
Kids Party Games Gumshoes Disquised

Spy School Skills

Marshmallow Trebuchet
*  Altered EvidenceKids Party Games Crime Lab Sleuth
*  Close Shave
*  Beat the Bomb
Keyhole Spyglass
*  Hot on the Trail
*  Mystery Bundle
*  Secret Signals
*  Silent Snoops
*  Hot Shots
*  Hideouts
*  Sniffing Out Clues
*  Snitch
*  Super Assassin
*  For Your Eyes Only
*  Undercover Operative Obstacle Course

Spy School Party Games

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Marshmallow Trebuchet Trebuchet

Being able to hit a target is an extremely useful spy skill. Have your young secret agents build this simple trebuchet out of craft sticks, elastics and a plastic spoon. (Sorry no building instructions – you’ll have to figure it out from the picture I stole from here.) Load them up with marshmallows, set up a target, and fire away.

balloons iconAltered Evidence

Detectives must notice small changes that can happen while working on a case – attention to detail can make the difference between catching the crooks or letting them get away. Detectives will examine evidence and learn to spot the differences if the evidence is altered. This is a variation on the game of ‘memory’.
– Fill a suitcase with items then, hidden from view, remove or add things. If this is a child’s celebration of some kind you can theme the items in the case to highlight their particular interest; horses, nautical, glamour, skiing, or whatever they or their friends are currently passionate about.
– Dress a doll elaborately and then add or remove something. If they kids are older and need more of a challenge create a tableau for the doll to be placed in and then change items in the tableau as well. Give one or two children at a time the chance to be the one who changes things.
– You can also you a felt board and felt objects, a tray and various items, pictures cut out from a magazine on a table top and toys in a bathtub, you get the idea.
The smaller the items or changes the bigger the challenge.

balloons iconClose Shave

Close ShaveDetectives often find themselves in tight spots. Sometimes they need to have a steady hand in order to save the day. Maybe they will need to disarm a bomb in the near future. Give each child a well blown up balloon covered in shaving cream and a serrated plastic knife to scrape it off with. (Adults can use real razors.)
– Before you blow up the balloon write a riddle or clue on a piece of paper and stick it inside. If the balloon is shaved without popping then the detectives must pop it to get the clue out. Definitely an OUTDOOR game.

balloons iconBeat the Bomb

Set an alarm clock for five or ten minutes and hide it. The louder the alarm the better. It must be found before it goes off.
– The ‘bomb’ can be found and disabled by having the first person to find the clock turn the alarm off or as players find the clock they just leave it and tell the ‘head detective’ where it is, leaving it in place so that everyone has a chance to Beat the Bombdiscover where the bomb is hidden before it blows.
– Players can dash around madly searching for the clock with no instructions at all or you can set up a series of a clue or two. If the clock is hidden in the fridge you can give them a riddle like “The bomb is hidden in a place that loses its cool when you pull the plug?”
– If you have a yard full of trees you can give them a note by the ‘Alarm Clock Bomber’, which tells them that the bomb is under a tree. Maybe they need to earn the note first. Have mini-scavenger hunt so that the players must bring you a black rock, something that starts with the letter ‘S’ and a dirty sock before they get the message. Those mad bombers like to send detectives chasing around before they get any clues to the bomb. Played by itself or with any of the above games. Adjust time accordingly.

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Keyhole Spyglass

Found this nifty activity at this fabulous site here.
How to make a keyhole spyglass. Copied exactly from the above website. Be sure to check them out.

What You Need:

  • Clear glass marble
  • Black construction paper
  • Clear tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  • Have your child measure and cut a piece of black construction paper approximately 4” x 10.”
  • At one end of the strip have your child place the marble in the center of the paper and roll the paper as tight as possible.
  • Using a pencil, poke the marble to one end of the roll until it slightly protrudes from the paper as shown. Secure this end with a piece of tape around the paper.
  • Place the marble end of the spy tool against a keyhole or small space and look through the other area. Ask your child what he sees!

Try the keyhole spy tool in several different spaces and see what works best!
By Jake Friesen

Detective Constable Jake Friesen is a member of the Forensic Identification Unit with the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service in Ontario, Canada. Jake is highly trained in many disciplines of forensic science.

balloons iconHot on the Trail

Start off the hunt by giving each Detective a list of items that have been stolen. For kids too young to read, use pictures. You can use items that are naturally around the house or hide things ahead of time. Detectives leave the items where they find them and check them off the list or write the location down. The game could end once everyone has found the items or it could continue. Get a bunch of small locks and keys and put them on bags or boxes with a prize or another clue inside. Each box could contain a sentence that is part of a clue which tells them where the birthday cake or loot bags are hidden. Once a child has found all the items they get a key and whichever box it opens is theirs.

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  1. We are entertaining a group of 8 classmates for my daughter’s 13th birthday party. We have a boring early 1970s HOA pool, an empty clubhouse room, and some friendly neighbors in surrounding condos. What do you recommend for a great mystery backdrop to our pool party?

    1. Add a bit of decor and your venue can become anything from an abandon villa on the Mediterranean to an elegant estate during the Age of Jazz / Roaring 20s or the public baths of an ancient lost civilization. It could become a set of a fantasy land like in the Narnia books, an desert oasis outpost, a haunted carnival any time in the last 100 years or a training ground for athletes or SPIES!

      Pick something you are passionate about. The more fun and excitement you put into creating it – the more fun and excitement your daughter’s guests will get out of it.

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the wonderful ideas.I’m all set to plan my 9year old daughter’s Detective Party,thanks to your games.

  3. Hi, I’m planning a party for my 11 (turning 12) year old sister. I’ve found some great ideas on this site but some of the ideas are a little bit for more younger kids. I was wondering if you had any other more “teenagererish” games and decorations. We also have a fairly large property that can be used for the games.

    1. Sometimes the main difference between a child’s party and a teen party is the subject matter; change the subject matter, change the age range. Having a cluetrail is the same no matter what the age group or venue is. You need clues to prove whodunnit and it’s the ‘what they’ve done’ that gets upscaled or re-worked according to your group. Not currently having an eleven year old in the house I’m not sure of the hot topics in their world at this time.

      Are they too young for zombies or are zombies passe now? Maybe something based on their favourite book, tv show or video game. Maybe there is a particular theme in your area that would appeal to them; horses or a skatepark and like that. It’s often fun to combine a mystery party with a costume party. The participants can really get into it by dressing up as a character whether it is someone fictional or from their favorite video game characters or movie/tv show. I was surprized how much younger people love dressing up.

      My daughter started digging into the costume box at a young age and now she is sixteen she and her friends still dig into it only now they do it to make videos of themselves. Maybe your sister’s party could be based on a movie shot and an older teenager could run the video camera and play the director. In any case, ask your sister what exactly her and her friends are into to help you with this.

      Eleven year olds can be quite blase about death so I’m guess you could go with a murder mystery or a robbery. Set up a crime scene and hideouts for each of the suspects around your property. Scatter clues at the crime scenes for them to take note of and search out the solution from. Depending on your property and your group you could have clues to where clues could be found instead of setting up hideouts.

      A lot of this depends on how much time you have and how much work you want to go to. At the moment, and probably not for a while, I have nothing ready to go for teenagers but I would be glad to help you figure something out. Let me know.

  4. I’m with Suzie! I would love those 6 things too! Or at least some Riddles and prints, Loads of Codes, and maybe Sneaky Puzzles? Thanks for all of this!

  5. Ah. That’s coming up faster than the script will be ready. What I can do is give you a call and share some ideas with you – for free! If you’re interested send me your phone number and a good time to get in touch with you; include your time zone (I’m Mountain Standard Time). Email it to me at jrv(at) I’ll be happy to help you out.

  6. Hi

    I would need it asap. I’m hosting a party next Saturday, March 2. Could you give me a bit of info about “Spy Hunt”, please?


  7. Hi Suzie – I am currently polishing and spiffing up all of our Gumshoe Files. Do you have a party coming up or are you just wondering in general? There are four different events I am working on right now and if you have a specific date you need it by, tell me when and I’ll let you know if I can have it ready for you. It is called ‘Spy Hunt’ and will sell for $9.95 Cdn.

  8. Hi

    How do I get “the Gumshoe PDFs” that include
    1) Crime Lab Cops
    2) Detective in the Dark
    3) Riddles & Prints
    4) Loads of Codes
    5) Sneaky Puzzles
    6) Clue Hunt and how much is it?

    Thank you.

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