Suitcase Detectives is a whimsically themed game in which students are hotel detectives trying to catch Percy the Pilferer in the act of stealing from the guests' suitcases. Behind that whimsy is a very accessible, yet challenging game that encourages younger students to think like scientists, employing key foundational science skills such as careful observation of details and drawing conclusions. The game experience is finished off by the expected quality and appeal of HABA's game components.
Each round in Suitcase Detectives one player takes on the role of Percy while the rest of the group work as detectives working for the hotel. Percy takes the game box, which is shaped like a suitcase, and a set of shadow shapes of recognizable items (gloves, ring, necklace, picture frame, ...etc.). These items are kept in a drawer in the bottom of the suitcase and are visible through an opaque window when the suitcase is open. Percy takes two of the items from the drawer and hides them from the rest of the players. He then shakes the box so the shapes get mixed up and sets the box on the table in front of the rest of the players.
Now it is time for the detectives to get to work! When they are ready, the sand timer is started, the players flip open the suitcase and start detecting. Each detective has a set of cards showing all of the items that were in the suitcase. The students try to work out which items are missing from the suitcase by figuring out what items are still there. The problem is that the black shapes are all jumbled together and tough to make out through the opaque window. In addition, the students can't move the suitcase so they need to look for any unique details they can see on the pieces to help them deduce which items have been stolen. When time is up, the detectives each reveal their guesses for what items are missing and compare them to the items that Percy stole. For each item they got correct, they move forward one space on the scoreboard. The following round, a new student takes on the role of Percy. The game continues until each player has had the chance to be Percy a few times with the player furthest along the score track winning.
Suitcase Detectives can be deceiving. While it is a fast, fun and very accessible game it also has some really good curricular pieces that lie underneath. To be successful in the game, students need to really be observant of details and learn to draw conclusions from the limited information they are given. This game provides great return on investment; students get a lot of experience out of playing while very little effort is needed to get them into the resource. Plus the language independence and simple rules set make this an accessible learning space for younger or struggling students. So whether you use one copy for a centers activity or several copies for the whole class, Suitcase Detectives is sure to steal its way into your curriculum.
Library/Classroom note: book tape (strong, wide, and acid-free) or spine reinforcement strips help extend the life of the box hinge.