Sketchy Characters- A Fun Activity for Teaching about the Reliability of Eyewitness Accounts

Is eyewitness testimony REALLY a reliable source of forensic evidence? This is the driving question that surrounds my eyewitness testimony lesson. It’s one of my favorite forensics lessons because the students are invested in the discussions surrounding this highly debatable topic. Today, on the blog, I am sharing one of the activities that I do when teaching about the use of eyewitness testimony in forensics.

Sketchy Characters- A Fun Activity for Teaching about the Reliability of Eyewitness Accounts

Materials Needed:

This activity is super simple and doesn’t require a lot of effort. All you need is:

  • clipboards (these are the BEST class set of clipboards)
  • pencils/erasers
  • sketchy character cards (download these at the end of the post)
  • paper

How it works:

Divide the class into two teams (A & B). Team A will be your forensic sketch artists. Their job will be to listen to the descriptions given to them by the eyewitnesses (Team B) and will create a composite drawing of the perpetrator. Team A will need a clipboard, pencil, and eraser.

Eyewitness Accounts in Forensics

Team B will serve as the eyewitnesses. They have witnessed a crime and were able to get a good look at the perpetrator. They will provide the forensic sketch artist (Team A) with details about the person that they saw commit the crime.

Eyewitness Accounts in Forensics

You will need to provide each person on team B with a “sketchy character” card. Be sure not to allow any member from team A to see these cards. (Note: I usually call team B into the hallway to provide them with these cards.) Explain to the team that they have witnessed a crime. The image that they have in their hand is the perpetrator. They will need to provide the forensic sketch artist with detailed information about the perp. Allow the students to look at the picture for 30 seconds and then take the image from the students so that they have to rely solely on memory to provide their description.

Eyewitness Testimony (Forensics)

Pair a “team A” student with a “team B” student. The eyewitness should describe the perpetrator to the forensic sketch artist as they attempt to create a composite sketch. Both team members should work collaboratively, making corrections as needed. Once the sketch artist and eyewitness are happy with their sketch, allow the sketch artist to view the “sketchy character” card of the perpetrator.

Forensic Sketch Artists
Sketchy Characters
Sketchy Characters

This activity is always a lot of fun and really gets the kids thinking about the reliability of eyewitness accounts. I like to follow this activity with my EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY WEBQUEST assignment where students dig in to articles and research the validity of using eyewitness accounts to solve crimes.

To get the SKETCHY CHARACTERS ACTIVITY, click the link button below.

Well…I hope that you found this post to be helpful in preparing for your next Forensics lesson!

Happy teaching, friend!

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