Set the Stage to Engage with the Case of the Missing Cookies! September kindergarten and first-grade activities for back to school.
Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?
This is a fun rhyme to do at the beginning of the school year. Students love hearing their name and hearing the names of their friends.
This fun rhyme has been used for generations because it gets kids engaged! They love the repetitive chant as they ask the question, WHO took the cookies from the cookie jar?
We start off by doing the chant several times throughout the first few days of school. After the kids are familiar with the rhyme, I show them our cookie jar full of cookies and excitedly tell them that they don’t need to bring a snack the following day because we will have cookies!!!! Ah, excitement. So much excitement over the inexpensive not so tasty (IMO) Chips Ahoy cookies.
After the kids leave I remove the cookies from the cookie jar and add a thumbprint to the jar. When the kids come in the next day, I don’t say a word. I wait for them to notice that THE COOKIES ARE MISSING!!!! Oh, no! They immediately start trying to figure out who took the cookies from the cookie jar!?
Once the kids notice that the cookie snatcher left behind a clue, we gather on the carpet, and I teach them that while everyone’s fingerprints are unique to them, there are three different types of fingerprints: Arch, whirl, and loop. We talk about the types of fingerprints and examine the posters that show each of the types of fingerprints.
We use this information to start narrowing down our list of suspects. First, everyone uses a stamp pad and provides a fingerprint. Then, we analyze the fingerprints and graph them according to the three different types. Last, we check the fingerprint on the jar. Whose fingerprints match that of the cookie snatcher? Go down the list of suspects as you do the chant again.
Notice that every one of the suspects said it wasn’t them. Ask the students, “What would a real detective do to solve this mystery?”
Note: I purchased the vests and props from Oriental Trading Company. They are from their Vacation Bible School line that they put out every summer. You can get these props for a steal when they put them on clearance. VBS stands for Very Bright Students.
We have provided two options for this activity. Option #1 provides clues that take the students on a tour of the school. This is a great way to introduce them to various people and locations throughout the school. At the end of the tour, they locate the suspect. Option #2 provides the students with three different suspects. I choose the school nurse, the school secretary, and the principal. To play the students sit in a circle with balloons in the middle. You can put whatever you want on the balloons depending on the skills of your students. For kindergarten it could be letters and numbers for them to identify, for first-graders it could be sight words, math problems, CVC words, you name it! In the picture below, the students took turns solving a math problem on a balloon. If they were able to solve the problem they popped the balloon to see if a clue was inside.
Once we collected all three fingerprint clues, we went to work analyzing them to see if we could determine who the real cookie thief was!
I love how serious they get about their job as a detective. So much learning is taking place, and they don’t even realize it!
It Was YOU!!!
Once the Very Bright Students Detective Agency has the suspect figured out I send a secret text to the principal letting him know it’s time to make an appearance. As soon as he walks in the door the kids all shout, It Was YOU!! I love how some of them are even confronting him with the scientific evidence. The principal then says, “Oh, my goodness. I am so sorry. I know that I should never take anything that doesn’t belong to me. Last night I was working late, and I was really hungry! I saw your cookies, and I ate them, but I made sure to bring you even better ones!” Then he talks about how important it is to always do the right thing. Authentic, real world Character Education. Swoon.
Detective Agency Literacy Centers for kindergarten and first-grade
Even though we’ve solved the mystery, we don’t want the fun to end. We’ve included a variety of literacy and math centers that will work for both kindergarten and first-grade.
The kindergarten literacy centers include identifying uppercase and lowercase letters, identifying letters and tracing them correctly, matching letters and sounds (a picture clue is provided for those who need support). The first-grade literacy stations include reviewing letters and sounds, reading CVC words, solving the case of the missing vowel. All of the centers incorporate the detective theme.
Detective Agency Math Centers for Kindergarten and first-grade
The kindergarten math stations include counting objects to match a numeral 1-10, identify the number of dots and a dot die and trace the number represented, counting and graphing.
The first-grade math centers include counting objects to match numerals from 10-20 and putting them in order, solving equations, counting and graphing.
You can check out this unit by CLICKING HERE. It’s on sale until Friday at midnight.