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Cookie Jar Case: A Role-Play Mock Trial Course Kit for Grades 4-5

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Product Description

No crime goes unpunished in this exciting follow-up to The Cookie Jar Mystery!

The Cookie Jar Case: A Role Play Mock Trial is an interactive, 5-unit follow-on to the popular Cookie Jar Mystery. The jury is in on this exciting mock-trial activity that takes the learning further for students in grades 4-5. Students will be thrilled to see justice run its course. The mystery, suspense and learning continues as students progress from the crime to the courthouse!

Designed to move experienced students from the crime to the courthouse, The Cookie Jar Case encourages learners to build on the work they accomplished as forensic investigators with the Cookie Jar Mystery. As a suspect is prosecuted for the crime of stealing Mrs. Randall’s cookies, this stimulating, new learning program immerses students in the world of criminal court procedure. Just as attorneys do on Law & Order, students cooperate on teams to prepare opening statements, search out witnesses, solicit testimony, and analyze the evidence they need to support their theory of the crime.

Role-playing is at the heart of The Cookie Jar Case: As learners examine and cross-examine witnesses, devise trial strategies, and offer evidence to the court, they take on new confidence as they act out a variety of roles, from suspect to judge, from court stenographer to prosecutor. Pivotal discussions of jury duty, civic responsibility, honesty, and fairness support character development and place questions of right and wrong in a lively, real-world context. Trial preparation leads students to surprising turns of character and charisma in the final mock trial—when testimony and interrogation and the high drama of closing arguments can generate performances of surprising legal intelligence. As the judge delivers the final instructions to the jury (which may be comprised of fellow students, teachers, and even parents), the suspense continues during deliberations. The final verdict is sure to be a real nail-biter!

Course Outline and Lesson Descriptions

Lesson One: How a Courtroom Works
Introducing students to the American criminal legal system and courtroom procedure is the focus of Lesson One. In three initial activities, students get up close and personal with the roles and responsibilities of courtroom personnel from the judge to the bailiff. The adversarial relationship that characterizes attorneys working on behalf of defendants and the prosecution is explored next. Finally, the somber responsibility of civic duty is discussed as learners delve into the jury selection process.

Lesson Two: Opening Statements
Preparing hair and fiber samples, DNA, and perhaps even footprints may just finger the perpetrator of the Cookie Jar crime as learners prepare the evidence for trial in Lesson Two. Clarence Darrow may have met his match as our student lawyers turn next to the preparation of their opening statements. A challenging activity provides guiding templates to help students get a feel for the appropriate language for constructing a legal argument.

Lesson Three: Questioning Witnesses
In Lesson Three, there will be few objections when students find their courtroom procedure supported by a keen and simple understanding of the appropriate form of questions necessary to interrogate their witnesses. Introducing key pieces of evidence—especially evidence that is uniquely linked to particular witnesses—can help students tell compelling stories of their own “theories of the crime” as they believe it may have happened.

Lesson Four: Closing Remarks
Preparing a short and sweet closing argument that will sway the jury and win the case is the key activity in Lesson Four. Students also review their evidence, rehearse their witnesses, and try to anticipate their opponent’s strategy. A quick review of court procedures builds confidence and helps students feel ready to litigate. Opening arguments are just around the corner!

Lesson Five: The Mock Trial
The jury has been seated and the court comes to order in Lesson Five as our mock trial finally gets underway. The audience and attorneys take their places, open their files and take a deep breath in preparation for opening statements. Just as in a real court setting, learners call witnesses, introduce evidence, object, confer with the judge and listen to testimony. All the participants will be on the edge of their seats as they wait for the jury to deliberate and deliver the verdict. When the trial is finally over, all of the players will be able to celebrate that justice has been served!

Preview- Click to Look Inside!





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

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 with audio for each lesson, 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: Instructor's Guide, Resource CD with all handouts and student book in PDF, courtroom signs and gavel.

Training Tips

Quick Start Tips for Teachers

Preparing Staff to Teach the “Cookie Jar Case”

Welcome to the staff training notes for The Cookie Jar Case, a series of 5 hands-on lessons in debate and argument designed around a mock trial for 5th to 8th graders. This program is ideal for in school, after-school programs and summer camps.  

Who can teach The Cookie Jar Case?

Any responsible, enthusiastic and well briefed group leader, teacher, volunteer, parent, or other motivated adult can teach The Cookie Jar Case. 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 pages. Adults act as coaches and mentors, and guide learners as they proceed through the lessons.

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

No special technical (or legal!) skills are necessary to teach The Cookie Jar Case. 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 roles and making progress in their understanding. The Cookie Jar Case is fun, so enthusiastic and positive instructors are essential "cheerleaders" in the learning process.

The Cookie Jar Case seems to contain a lot of legal terminology and procedures. Wouldn’t it be better if we had a real lawyer helping out with the project?

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve sat through hundreds of hours of Law & Order or Boston Legal episodes. You know more about the law than you think you do—and there’s no law against you learning right alongside your students!

We’ve designed each activity to teach an important lesson in critical thinking and reasoning in the context of a trial process. These activities promote both fun and learning, and the Notes for the Instructor (provided in each section) offers the "context" in which learners’ understanding is scaffolded and strengthened. It’s the story—the authentic situation—that makes students eager to take on new roles.

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

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

  • Read the entire lesson before you teach 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 reaching a “verdict” in the mock trial.
  • 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, it’s critical to review "the case so far” by reminding students of the materials and processes they’ve explored in previous lessons. It’s essential to activate students’ prior knowledge, and stimulating their memories of the story will help them make sense of what they are learning. Trials are cumulative processes, and the sequence of presenting evidence through the activities will inevitably lead jurors to their verdict.

Don’t hesitate to review some of the vocabulary at the beginning of the lesson. And you can wrap up any lesson by asking students if any has new questions, new insights, suggestions, or an inkling of how the trial will turn out.

When you introduce new material and procedures, take a moment to assess how much students already know. For example, in the lesson dealing with the way in which the courtroom works, ask students to offer their own ideas. By examining their ideas, we can identify gaps in their understandings, and also areas in which their understanding can support the learning of their peers. Questions and discussion help students to become self-reflective, an important habit of mind for critical thinking. Students will be stimulated and excited when they get a chance to "show off" a little of their legal knowledge.

Extend your lesson

Instructors, particularly those with access to computer labs, can extend their lessons by reading through many of the activities described in the Other Directions, Discussions and Destinations section at the end of each lesson. Even if there’s no computer available in the classroom, many activities can be adapted by an instructor who takes the time to visit the recommended websites before delivering a lesson.

Consult your colleagues

Many lessons in The Cookie Jar Case have cross-disciplinary applications. Talk with other teachers in your school or program about the ways in which what they are teaching might connect to your lesson. As you plan and prepare, ask your colleagues for good "discussion starters.” Show them the activity sheets and materials you are using, and ask for their experience in teaching about making strong and persuasive arguments. The Cookie Jar Case is a great jumping-off point for lessons in character education, too!

A note about safety

All of the materials and activities in The Cookie Jar Case 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 level of safety possible.

And don’t forget to have fun!