A Crime Scene Investigation: A Lesson in Making Inferences

I have always sworn, students are a bit crazier the WEEK BEFORE the week before a vacation. I totally understand the “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” mentality, because honestly I live that life SO hard. I do have a new set of eyes as a first year teacher and, wow, the excitement and happiness in my classroom is at an all-time high. So anyways, back to the WEEK BEFORE the week before a vacation. That week is upon us…and I have something to help you out!

This lesson is unbelievably engaging. This time of year is the perfect time to deliver this all-time favorite that I have done the past two years in my classroom. The theme: cookies. Now, you may think I’m a little crazy bringing cookies into the whole WEEK BEFORE the week before a vacation situation…but trust me on this one.

My students study making inferences in November. This activity is perfect for students who have already studied making inferences AND students who have not studied making inferences yet, but may be beginning a unit on making inferences.

Picture this: It’s the morning and you have a yummy display of cookies (if you’re me, they’re store-bought) just chilling on a table. There is something about hyping the kids up with irresistible cookies that makes this activity so much more fun. When your students leave your classroom for lunch/recess/special, you set up the crime scene.

The cookies are stolen! 


That’s not all, folks. The room is in a little bit of disarray and there is caution tape around the crime scene. The clues to the cookies whereabouts are hidden throughout this scene (that is where the inference skill comes in). When students come back to class, you have closed the door and left a note reading “CRIME SCENE: DO NOT COME IN WITHOUT TEACHER SUPERVISION.” (THAT REALLY GETS ‘EM). 

From there, each student gets an investigation packet and a partner (optional). As students search the crime scene, they note any clues they find and link those clues to their schema to make inferences. This activity involves observation, discussion, drawing, using a table, and writing a paragraph.


Here’s the best part: the crime scene, investigation packet, and lesson plan are all done for you!

Below is one of the clues: a cookie swap invite to be filled out by you, the teacher, and planted in the crime scene: 


Some pages of the student investigation packet are shown below. They include the informative cover page, the record and clue table, and the cumulative writing activity: 


This activity is a RIDICULOUS amount of fun! The level of engagement students have while working through the investigation is great for behavior management during the WEEK BEFORE the week before a vacation. The cookie swap theme fits so perfectly with the holidays, although this activity can be used any time during the year!

This activity can be purchased through my Teachers Pay Teachers store, here: 

A HANDS-ON Crime Scene Investigation: An Activity in Making Inferences

*SPOILER ALERT: The kids will STILL want cookies…I switch the cookies to a new plate while I prep the crime scene and hide the “second” plate of cookies in a cabinet so the students can snack on them while they complete the writing portion of this activity. I tell them that the second plate of cookies was for me to share with the teachers in the teacher room, but since the their cookies were stolen, they can have them instead!*


What activities do you love to do before a vacation? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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