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Who Stole the Cookies?

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

 Focus Question: How do we analyze and interpret data from reading and listening?


  •  ‘Urgent’ Letter on big paper
  • Tape/magnets/clips to attach letter to board
  • Large writing surface (chalk board, paper, overhead projector)
  • Writing material for given board surface (chalk, marker) Marker (to write on letter)
  • Baker’s hat
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cookies (enough for the entire class)

(Sitting in a circle on the floor) Good morning! One of my favorite foods is cookies, and I want to talk about them with you. What kinds of cookies and other sweets do you like? Where are special places that sweets are kept, or hidden? (Class responds.) We didn’t have cookies in my house when I was growing up, but my grandma had a cookie jar, and whenever we went to her house, my brothers, cousins and I would sneak cookies from her cookie jar. What would you do if, one day, all the cookies were missing?! We’re going to pretend that our classroom has a big jar of cookies and sweets, and that one day, we come to school and all the cookies are gone! Let’s play a game to find out what might happen if we all blame each other for taking the cookies.

Repeat after me: “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” (Class repeats.) Good, now let’s try it one more time. (Class repeats again.) Then, whoever is ‘it,’ which I’ll be for now, looks at the person to the right and says: “Tina stole the cookies from the cookie jar.” Tina then becomes ‘it,’ and she says “Who me?” We all say, “Yes you!” Let’s try that together. (Tina and class repeat.) Then, Tina says, “Couldn’t be!” We all reply, “Then who?” Let’s try that part now. (Tina and class repeat.) And then we start over with “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” This time, since Tina is ‘it,’ she chooses the person to her right, and we keep going until everyone has had a turn as ‘it.’ So let’s try all the words together. Follow me. (Facilitator leads and class follows with the words.) Now, this game has a specific rhythm, so we want to do our best to stay on the rhythm when we say the words. To help us with that, we have a hand pattern. It goes like this. (Facilitator demonstrates pat-pat, clap-clap.) Let’s all try that together. (Class repeats a few times.) Great job! Now, let’s add the words. (Class puts hand pattern with words. Repeats sequence a few times.) This is hard to do, and you’re all doing great! Doing our best to stay together, let’s go around the whole circle.

SHARE info about topic: (After going around the circle with the Cookie Jar game, facilitator reveals a giant letter, folded in thirds with the word URGENT written in red marker across the front.) Hey, look at this! I just received a letter, marked ‘urgent.’ What do you think it is? What should we do with it? (Class responds: open it! read it! With a student assistant, the facilitator opens the letter, tapes it to the chalkboard. Facilitator calls on one student to read each line.)

"Dear Daring Detectives, I arrived at the Longhorn Bakery at 6:30 am this morning, as I do everyday. But I immediately knew something was different. There were flour footprints all around. There was an unusual smell. And then, I looked at the table. It was empty! Last night, we made 100 special cookies for Bevo, now they are all gone".

She needs those cookies for today’s big game! I have no idea who took them, and I don’t have time to bake 100 more. Can you help me find the missing cookies? Chief Baker What is the Chief Baker’s letter saying? Daring Detectives, can we help him? (Class responds.)


Paired Parallel Dialogues Now that we’ve decided to help the Chief Baker find Bevo’s missing cookies, let’s figure out what type of information we need.

Thinking of the 5 w’s, turn to the person next to you and brainstorm what information we need in order to solve the mystery of Bevo’s cookies. What types of clues should we look for?

Possible Side Coaching: "Imagine you were at the bakery. What would you look for?" "Think about a detective movie you might have seen – what types of things did they need to know?" "When something’s missing from your room, what do you think of first?"

Trouble Shooting Facilitator might brainstorm with pairs. If pairs are struggling, groups might combine. Students will likely come up with their own theories. This is ok, and in the next activity the facilitator can draw out relevant information.

Transition: Now that you’ve brainstormed with a fellow detective, let’s share with the team. What type of information do we need to know to find the missing cookies? (Facilitator makes a list of the students’ answers on the board, opposite the giant letter. Distill answers to who, what, where, when, why.) Looking the letter, what information do we already have? (As students identify the givens in the letter, facilitator circles them in a different color marker, and writes them next to each ‘w.’) who: ? what: cookies missing where: Longhorn Bakery when: 6:30am why: ?

Procedure: Group Brainstorm So we know that cookies were missing from the Longhorn Bakery at 6:30am this morning. But we still need to discover who stole the cookies, and why. I’ve brought the Chief Baker into the office so we can find out more about what happened. Before I bring him in, let’s brainstorm questions we might like to ask him. Possible Side Coaching -What do you want to know about the Chief Baker and his bakery? -The letter says the bakery looked and smelled different. What questions can you ask about this? -What other questions can you ask about the letter? Transition Now that we have great questions, we’re ready to interview the Chief Baker. I’ll go get him now. (Facilitator exits and re-enters in role as Chief Baker, wearing a baker’s hat and holding a wooden spoon.) 3) Procedure: Interrogate Chief Baker (Nearly in tears.) Hello Daring Detectives. Thank you so much for helping me out. I just can’t believe someone would steal my cookies! I worked so hard preparing those cookies for Bevo’s big day. They were strawberry, just as she likes, and it would take me another week to make 100 more! Please, ask me anything you’d like, just help me find my cookies. As students ask questions, Chief Baker accidentally slips self-incriminating and contradictory details, including: "When I arrived at the bakery at 6am, I knew something was different. Bevo always likes my chocolate chip cookies the best. My shoes were covered in flour, and I had to change them right before I came here. I’m so full, I feel like I ate a million cookies today! Nothing else was missing, just my cookies. And you know, no doors or windows were broken. It must have been someone with a key!"

Chief Baker burps and says: Excuse me. Mmm, strawberry.

Possible Side-Coaching: "What can I tell you about the bakery? You know, I sometimes wish Bevo were nicer to me. She just eats my cookies, too busy to be my friend anymore."

Transition: While answering a question, Chief Baker accidentally says: "I just took the cookies because I wanted some attention for once; Bevo’s always the star, but what about the man behind the cookies? Oh no! I mean, um, I want the attention back on Bevo’s enjoyment of my fudge bars. I mean, um, I have to go!" (Chief Baker runs out, and facilitator returns out-of-role.)

Conclusion Responding appropriately to the students’ faces, facilitator says: What did the Chief Baker say? What happened? (Students respond.) Well, did he say why he did it? (Students respond.) Wow, I hope the Chief Baker and Bevo can become friends again. So now we can fill out the ‘who’ and ‘why’ on our list of the 5 w’s. Who? (Class responds.) Why? (Class responds.) You did great detective work today! And to reward you, I brought a treat. (Pulls out a cookie jar.)


Describe: What did we do? What was the mystery?

Analyze: What clues did you use to solve the mystery? How did your classmates help discover information? What was challenging? Fun? Exciting? What was surprising in this activity? How did things turn out differently than you thought?

Relate: How do we use detective skills in school? What clues do you look for to understand what you’re reading? What clues do you listen for when the teacher or one of your classmates is talking?

EVALUATE: Were the students engaged throughout? Were they able to make connections between the letter, the baker, and the mystery? Did I provide enough information? Too much? Was I committed to my role? Were my side coachings helpful in furthering the discoveries? Were the students able to relate the analyzing process to reading and listening?