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Customer Quotes

“Great products...one of the best curriculum's out there, great help for teaching our video class" -Christine R., Principal, Trinity Lutheran School, Kalispell, MT

"Screenwriting was awesome, our kids really loved these activities. It was also really nice to provide such a creative curriculum that addresses the standards in such a fun way." - Heather S., Director, After School, City of Fairfield, CA

“Having taught at the high school and college level, I was impressed with this curriculum. The materials and guidance were well put together and very thoughtful." - Michael L., Artist, Shea After School, Syracuse, NY

“This amazing program has enabled my students to comprehend the process of forensic science as well as the sophisticated vocabulary encompassed in the program's lessons.” - Erica T., Freehold Public Schools, Freehold, NJ

“This is a well organized course that I would highly recommend to other programs.” - Chad S., Teacher, School #18, Buffalo, NY

“The program is awesome! I’m doing it as part of an after school enrichment time. Our kids really enjoy the projects and it’s wonderful to use as everything is provided.” - Karen S.,Teacher, Olympic Middle School, WA

“This is the perfect kind of activity for afterschool. It’s fun; students learn by getting involved. Everybody wants to be a part of it!” - Kim L., Program Leader, Child and Adolescent Treatment Services, Buffalo NY

“They love it…it’s awesome. Kids are dying to get in it!” - Audrey A., Teacher, Clifford Marshall Elementary School, Quincy, MA

“The Missing Money Mystery was very easy to follow. The children had such a great time at it, we even allowed our group to re-enact the entire mystery. This mystery was fantastic, and we are looking forward to our next exercise!” - Jackie. J., Director/Detective, Hempstead P.A.L., Hempstead, NY

“The students were engaged and enjoyed the experiments. The story keeps the activities meaningful and provided an interested way to connect Florida Standards. The teacher’s manual was easy to follow and materials in the kits made it very convenient for set up. Overall, this is a great thing to do in afterschool and during the summer!” - Betty C., Teacher, Genesis Center, Leesburg FL

“Playing with Percussion offers an exciting doorway to exploring percussion, communication skills and learning about different cultures." - Sheila K., Site Leader, Accord Corp, Youth Services Division, Belfast NY

"Our kids enjoyed making their own instruments, especially sanding. Playing all those grooves at the end was a lot of fun!" - Nina P., Music teacher, Napa, CA

“The Cookie Jar Mystery was such a big hit at the middle school…which has been tough.”
-Charlie E., Teacher, Lexington County Schools, SC

"The Cookie Jar Mystery went really well, the kids talked about it for weeks.  They were very excited and intrigued with the hands-on activities and I really enjoyed teaching it!"
-Brook T.,Teacher, Lincoln Middle Schools, TN

  • Full Kit
  • Instructor's Guide
  • Lesson1
  • Lesson2
  • Lesson3
  • Lesson4
  • Lesson5
  • Lesson6
  • Lesson7
  • Lesson8
  • Lesson9
  • Lesson10
  • Lesson11
  • Lesson12

Cookie Jar Mystery: A Study in Forensic Science Summer Camp Kit for Grades 4-5

Calculated at checkout
This product is only available March-June

Product Description

Cookie Jar Mystery Instructors Guide

This fun, interactive, 12-unit project-oriented forensic science course (each lesson lasting about an hour) is designed to engage and expose students to this truly fascinating area of science!  Students in grades 4-5 are immersed in roles of crime scene investigators as they work together examining and analyzing evidence needed to solve the mystery of the broken cookie jar!

Using real laboratory techniques and materials, students create theories about the “crime” in a classroom, much as real detectives (and real scientists) use their powers of critical thinking to track down the thief. Along the way, they practice this critical thinking, acquire new vocabulary, explore careers in forensics, and become acquainted with scientific procedures and processes they will encounter in their future science electives. At its core, The Cookie Jar Mystery is designed to spark students’ interest in science.

Bringing the Mystery to Life

A crime has occurred in Mrs. Randall’s classroom! Her favorite cookie jar was broken and some of her homemade cookies were eaten. While breaking a cookie jar and snitching a few cookies are hardly serious crimes, they are nevertheless crimes that can be solved using a forensic science approach. Mrs. Randall turns this misfortune into opportunity and calls in a “Chief Crime Scene Investigator” (your course instructor) to lead her “forensics team” (your students) in how to use the tools of forensic science in analyzing clues left at the crime scene. Each student member of this team is a “Crime Scene Investigator” tasked with solving the mystery through scientific observation, sample examination, analysis, lab work, testing, interviews, and field work. To draw the students into the mystery, the instructor sets the stage by recounting Mrs. Randall’s intriguing tale. In advance, the instructor creates names for the four student suspects—names that students will find believable. These names replace “Suspects 1 – 4” used throughout the course materials. The suspects are three girls and one boy, and two of the girls are sisters. Having the instructor choose the names allows the course to be taught again and again, as this approach prevents incoming students from discovering prematurely who committed the crime. 

Making the Most of Each Lesson

Instructors will find The Cookie Jar Mystery easy and fun to teach. Each lesson provides an activity that teaches a new but related aspect of scientific reasoning and a particular scientific process. None of the labs require special handling or complicated setups. After familiarizing themselves with the lesson, vocabulary, and intended outcome of the activity, instructors set up their classroom so that it is easy for students to work in groups. Clear guidance is provided in each lesson on how to organize the work areas with all the relevant materials at hand. Any necessary safety precautions specific to individual lessons are also provided.

Course Outline and Lesson Descriptions

Completely updated 12-unit Course for 2017!

Lesson 1: Heads Up-Observation Skills

You can't believe your eyes or can you? Budding CSI investigators love to explore the challenge of visual memory and eyewitness testimony in this activity of "Did You See That?"

Lesson 2: Think Ink-Ink Chromatography

The telltale composition of ink can help CSIs identify the perpetrator when students make their own ink chromatographs. Easy-to-follow instructions lead the way in your classroom's forensics laboratory.

Lesson 3: The White Stuff-White Substance and Toxicology

Take a powder, please! Students get a closer look at the differences in white substances (Of course they're all non-toxic!) and at the world of poison science in this riveting research.

Lesson 4: Pull Some Strings-Fiber Analysis

Can scientific analysis of fibers help identify our thief? Students use pocket hand lenses to get up close and personal with fiber analysis, and learn to distinguish between class evidence and direct (conclusive) evidence.

Lesson 5: Hair We Go-Hair Sample

Who knew hair could be so complex? In this activity, can our junior gumshoes match a hair sample to the correct suspect? This absorbing inquiry will have students scratching their heads (and plucking their own hair!) as they delve deeper into the Cookie Jar Mystery.

Lesson 6: Follow the Grain-Pollen Analysis

Achoo! Pollen as evidence? Learners explore another form of trace evidence that often tells where something happened. Students do the legwork in the field as they practice with this essential tool.

Lesson 7: Make an Impression-Bite Marks

Surprisingly simple materials provide all you need for another great lesson in comparing and contrasting for students to "sink their teeth into."

Lesson 8: Bloody Brilliant-Blood Types

Of course, it's not real blood - but we do provide blood evidence substitute that encourages learners to handle evidence just like genuine CSI laboratory technicians. This lesson in blood typing provides a great jump start for future scientists, geneticists and crime scene detectives.

Lesson 9: One of a Kind-Fingerprint Evidence

Oh, the things we leave behind! Everything you always wanted to know about whorls and ridges, fingerprinting technique and more with authentic Ten Cards for each student to make a record of his/her prints.

Lesson 10: Crack the Code-DNA

Learning to unravel the mystery of our genetic code is revealed in this straightforward explanation and lesson helps learners narrow the field of suspects.

Lesson 11: Let's Talk-Questioning Our Suspects

A lie detector isn't the only way of getting at the truth! In this lesson, our junior CSI detectives learn the meaning of the "norm" and how knowing the norm helps sort truth tellers from liars. Students also return to the "scene of the crime" for another look.

Lesson 12: Who Dunnit?-Examining & Analyzing All the Evidence

Means, motive and opportunity all come together in this culminating activity that encourages students to put all of the puzzle pieces together and finally solve the Cookie Jar Mystery!


What's in this Course Kit?

Each Course Kit contains an Instructor Guide, Resource CD, 30 Student Books, and all of the materials and tools necessary to teach the course to a class of 30 students.

Cookie Jar Mystery Instructors Guide

Instructor’s Guide 

Every step is taken to provide an easy-to-follow format and informative, fun-to-read instructions for each lesson. In addition to a brief listing of objectives, materials, and set-up procedures, useful icons point the instructor to a number of key elements:

Notes for the Instructor: Brief instructor notes introduce the subject matter and challenges presented in the particular lesson. They often contain real-life, age-appropriate examples from crime in history or popular culture. 

Notes for the Students: These notes “set the stage” for each lesson by presenting brief material to read, listen to, and discuss.

Vocabulary: New and relevant terms are defined here. Note, too, the comprehensive “Glossary” at the end of the Instructor’s Guide and Student Books.

Activity Description: Here, step-by-step procedures are provided for both the instructor’s demonstration and the students’ immersion in the activity.

Wrap-up: Discussion-provoking questions and summary-type activities are designed to revisit the day’s learning and help students take their inquiry further.

Clean-up: Clear instruction on preserving and storing materials is provided to ensure kit longevity and cost effectiveness.

Other Destinations: To extend lessons and deepen understanding across disciplinary and cultural divides, relevant links to multimedia, web resources, and fun at-home or extension activities are provided here.

Student Books provided on Resource CD

Designed for students to record their discoveries class after class, the Student Books acquire a narrative quality that keeps the young “Forensic Investigators” engaged in scientific investigation over time. The books serve as companions to the Instructor’s Guide and contain reports, charts, places to attach samples, and areas to record observations, as well as a full glossary of terms used in the course.

Companion Resources

When you adopt The Cookie Jar Mystery: A Study in Forensic Science, your instructors will have access to a number of companion resources. A Teacher Resource CD includes lesson tutorials for each lesson overview, lesson extensions, and other great ideas for the classroom. Word search and crossword puzzles help reinforce newly learned and used vocabulary. Links to forensic videos and other multimedia resources provide authentic lesson extensions. Immediate support, including resupply materials and additional Student Books, is always available from the experts at Community Learning.

Supplies Included

Packed in easy-to-manage carryalls, every material or tool needed to solve the mystery is organized in a way that makes the course easy to teach again and again. Among some of these materials are: simulated blood serum, hair, fiber, and pollen samples, chromatography paper, suspect pens, tweezers, hand lenses, pencils, permanent markers, a shoe printing kit and more!

The Cookie Jar Mystery Kit Includes:

1 x Instructor’s Guide with resource CD 15 x Measuring spoon set
1 x Cookie Jar photos and handouts 1 x White powder samples (set of 5)
20 x Foam plates 3 x Suspect pens (set of 4)
15 x Student scissors 1 x Plastic Bag for Bite Slides
130 x Plastic cups 100 x Chromatography paper
1 x Isopropyl Alcohol 1 x Box of paper clips
1 x Packing Tape 100 x Wooden splints
1 x Box of toothpicks 50 x Black paper squares
36 x #2 Pencils 50 x Portion cups
1 x 2,000 mL Beaker 20 x Dropper bottles
15 x Permanent markers 31 x Styrofoam cups
16 x Rolls of transparent tape 16 x 250 mL Beakers
15 x Rulers 50 x Disposable gloves, pairs
20 x Hand lenses 1 x Dish soap
15 x Tweezers 1 x Simulated blood and anti-sera
50 x Coffee Filters 50 x Blood exam trays
16 x Plastic bags and spoons 31 x Ink strips
1 x Vinegar 31 x Ink towelettes
1 x Iodine 1 x Black fiber samples (set of 5)
1 x Plastic Dropper 1 x Hair samples (set of 5)
100 x Plastic straws 1 x Pollen samples (set of 5)
1 x Container of salt Student books in PDF on Resource CD


Tools for Teaching

Quick Start Tips for Teachers

Welcome to the Staff Training Notes for The Cookie Jar Mystery, a series of 15 hands-on lessons in forensic science designed for 4th and 5th graders. This program is ideal for after-school programs, summer and vacation camps, scout troops and anywhere that young people gather.

Who can teach The Cookie Jar Mystery?

Any responsible, enthusiastic and well-briefed group leader, teacher, volunteer, parent, or other motivated adult can teach The Cookie Jar Mystery. The text is easy to read and understand, the set-ups are detailed and uncomplicated, and the processes and procedures are clearly explained in the Lesson Plans.

To help your teachers get off to a great start, we created these tutorials (also included on your Resource CD).

What special skills does the instructor need to teach The Cookie Jar Mystery?

No special technical or scientific (or forensic!) skills are necessary to teach The Cookie Jar Mystery. Instructors should be well organized, motivated and observant individuals. Volunteers—such as other instructors or parents—can be helpful in ensuring that all students are proceeding through their labs and making progress in their understanding. The Cookie Jar Mystery is fun, so enthusiastic and positive instructors are essential “cheerleaders” in the learning process.

The Cookie Jar Mystery seems to contain a lot of “labs” that require “special handling”—do all of these experiments really work?

Absolutely! Each activity in the course has been designed to teach an important lesson in scientific reasoning and to conduct a scientific process. 

How can instructors most effectively deliver the lessons in The Cookie Jar Mystery?

Teaching any lesson in The Cookie Jar Mystery is easy if the instructor is well-prepared. Follow these steps before every lesson.

  • Read the entire lesson so you know what sort of outcome you are trying to achieve.
  • Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary and background information.
  • Identify the corresponding pages (where appropriate) in the Student Activity Book and review them so you know how to guide students to “fill in” their part of the activity. This step is essential because much of what students accomplish in their books will ultimately contribute to solving the mystery and becoming part of their Crime Scene Envelope evidence.
  • Open the Course Kit and locate all of the materials you need for each lesson.
  • Set up your classroom so that it’s easy for students to work in groups of 2 or 4.
  • Set up your demonstration area with all appropriate materials at hand.
  • Review any safety precautions related to the particular lesson you are going to teach, and make sure you know where emergency help and supplies are located.
  • Review the entire lesson with any volunteers who will help you teach the lesson.

Once your lesson has started…..

Before you begin each lesson, review “the case so far…” by reminding students of the materials and processes they’ve explored in previous lessons. Review some vocabulary. Ask students if they have developed any theory of the crime. . . .

When you introduce new material and procedures, take a moment to assess how much students already know. For example, in a lesson on fingerprints, ask students to look at their own fingertips and describe them. Ask them where one can find fingerprints around the house and which rooms are likely to yield the most fingerprints. Where else is it common to find fingerprints?

Students will be stimulated when they get a chance to “show off” a little of their crime-solving knowledge.

A note about safety

All of the materials and activities in The Cookie Jar Mystery have been prepared with the greatest concern for student and instructor safety. Please read safety precautions closely before every lesson and make sure that when you are working you have provided adequate light, space, and information to ensure that all participants are afforded the highest standard of safety possible.