I Spy!

Books to Share

Hide! by Jeff Foxworthy
I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs
Private I. Guana by Nina Laden
The Sly Spy by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Spot it Again! by Delphine Chedru

Books to Show or Booktalk

Dial M for Mongoose by Bruce Hale
The High-Rise Private Eyes #1: The Case of the Missing Monkey by Cynthia Rylant
I Spy Spectacular by Jean Marzollo
Joey Fly 2 Private Eye in Big Hairy Drama by Aaron Reynolds
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss
The Sheep in Wolves Clothing by Helen Lester

Bulletin Board

I Spy!

Use the template provided by Jean Marzollo to create an I Spy! bulletin board. Enlarge, color, and cut out the items. Place them on the bulletin board. Surround these items with photographs cut out of old magazines, pieces of scrap paper and cloth, and other items. Use cut out letters saying "I Spy!" and post a word list letting the children know what items they are looking for.


Use the I Spy nametag template provided here to create nametags for the children. Please rotate eye graphic to horizontal position after printing.

An outline of an eyeball with some red veind in the corner


Joey Fly, Private Eye

Macmillan provides patterns to create stand-up figures from Joey Fly. Copy and cut out a few to display around the shelves to point the way towards mystery books.


Serve white grape juice or 7-Up in party glasses.


Spy Pads

Purchase small notebooks from a dollar store or office supplier to give to little spies.

Costumes and Props

Spies wear disguises! Provide the children with an assortment of items, or material to create items, to make a disguise. Old wigs, clear glasses, hats, clothing, and other items make for fun costume play.


My Eyes (Traditional)

Here are my eyes   (point to eyes)
One and two   (raise fingers, one and two)
I can wink   (wink)
And so can you (point to someone)

When my eyes are open   (open eyes real wide)
I can see the light (open all fingers on both hands quickly)
When they are closed   (close eyes)
It's dark as night (fold hands next to head as if sleeping)

The Window (Traditional)

See the window I have here,   (Use thumb and index finger on each hand to create the outline of a window frame)
So big and high and square.   (Extend arms to show size)
I can stand in front of it,   (Put your hands on your hips)
And see the things out there.   (Point away from self)

Action Rhymes

Use Your Eyes (Traditional.  Continue calling out colors and objects as long as desired.)

Use your eyes, use your eyes;   (look around the room)
You can look and see.   (hold hand above eyes, scanning the room)
If you have on black shoes,
Come and stand with me.   (children who have black shoes on should move to the front of the room)

Use your eyes, use your eyes;   (children return to original places and continue to look around)
You can look and see.   (hold hand over eyes, scanning the room)
If you have on a red shirt,
Come and stand with me.   (children who have red shirts on should move to the front of the room)

Rhymes and Poetry

I Spy Rap

Children can create their own I Spy raps using the words from any of the I Spy books by Jean Marzollo. See her website for examples and instructions for turning the pages of her books into poetry and rhymes.

My Eyes Can See (Traditional)

My eyes can see.
My mouth can talk.
My ears can hear.
My feet can walk.
My nose can smell.
My teeth can chew.
My hands can write.
But when the clock,
Its time does show,
I'll take some books
And away I go!

Audio Recordings

"I Spy" on Boom Boom Beat by Hi-5
"Secret Agent" on The Backyardigans by The Backyardigans
Secret Agent File by John Barry

Flannel Boards

Caps for Sale

Create a flannel board based on Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Be sure to allow time for the children to spy the monkeys sitting in the trees as you tell the story.

Use the template for “Who Left Each Clue?” in the 2003 Texas Reading Club Manual to create a flannel board. Distribute the answer pieces and invite the children to come up and match them to the footprints.

Riddles and Jokes

The Chet Gecko books by Bruce Hale are filled with puns, jokes, and riddles. Share some with the children. For easy locating, many are provided on Bruce Hale's website.


Spyglass Craft
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Glue
  • Beads and sequins
  • Stickers
  • Markers or crayons
  • Wax paper
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape

Distribute one paper towel tube to each child. Let them decorate the tube with beads, sequins, crayons, or other embellishments. Cut out a piece of waxed paper just large enough to cover the end of the paper towel tube. Let the children fold the wax paper over the end and glue in place or adhere with scotch tape. Begin spying!

False Face
  • Heavy paper such as poster board, light enough to cut
  • Scissors
  • Clear or colored cellophane
  • Tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Black or brown construction paper

In advance, trace the pattern for the glasses provided at the end of this program onto the poster board. Also in advance trace or print a mustache onto black or brown construction paper. Cut out the glasses. Cut a piece of cellophane to cover each lens and trim to fit just over the opening. Tape or glue in place. Cut out the mustache. Put on your disguise!

Games and Activities

Spot the Differences

Copy sheets from a book such as Hidden Picture Challenge by Stephen Stanley or Spot-the-Differences Across the USA by Tony J. Tallarico, Jr. These inexpensive books from Dover Publications include copyright clearance for non-profit copying or are inexpensive enough to tear apart. Distribute sheets to the children and challenge them to spot the differences between pictures.

I Spy!

Play this well-known visual guessing game. In advance, place items or pictures of items around the program room that you will ask the children to locate. Ideas include a ball, a picture of a cat, a tree or flower, and a sandwich. The leader begins by saying "I spy with my little eye, something that begins with the letter (fill in the blank).” Give the children time to look around the room and respond. Applaud for the first child who guesses correctly.

I Spy Memory Game

Purchase the I Spy Memory Game from a retail store or Amazon. The simplest version of the game can be played by children as young as four and is a basic matching game in which players look for pairs of images.


Spy Kids (88 minutes)
I Spy: A Thing That Flings and Other Stories (90 minutes)
Postcards from Buster: Buster's Got the Beat (88 minutes)
"The Secret Spy Ring Mystery" on Busytown Mysteries: You and Me Solve a Mystery (723 minutes)

Web Sites

I Spy! - Scholastic's web site for the popular I Spy books by Jean Marzollo offers online games and activities.

Professional Resources

I Spy Projects - author's web site provides examples of I Spy projects submitted by readers that can be replicated by libraries.

Same and Different by Anna Pomaska

False Face Craft –Glasses Pattern

A pattern of glasses to cut out and for kids to use as part of the program

Page last modified: January 18, 2012