The mystery of the missing snack

Preschoolers have a natural curiosity.  They love to investigate and make new discoveries.  So when our snack came up missing, I knew just who to call on to help us solve the mystery…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

To begin our fun-filled day of mysteries, I filled our mystery box with magnifying glasses then invited the children to feel inside and see if they could guess what was inside. Once all the children took a turn feeling for our mystery items, I asked the children if they needed any clues.  We talked about what clues are and how they can help us solve a mystery.  Once I gave them a few clues, I asked if anyone thought they knew what might be in the box…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

Next, we read “Miss  Nelson is Missing” by Harry G. Allard, Jr.  In this hilarious book, Miss Nelson has a class filled with children who have the propensity for causing trouble.  When Miss Nelson has finally had enough, she calls on the horrible Miss Viola Swamp to act as her substitute teacher.  After just a few days the children, now very well-mannered, decide to go in search of Miss Nelson.  There is an unexpected twist at the end of the book that left our preschoolers surprised and, in some cases, stumped…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

Our children loved this book so much, that they asked Deborah and I to act like Miss Viola Swamp over and over again throughout the day.  Each time we put on our grumpy voices and pretended to reprimand them, the children just thought it was hilarious!  We even followed up with the book “Miss Nelson is Back” later on in the day.  After reading our first book, we set off to our art table where a message was written in invisible ink.  The children painted on the paper to reveal a secret message (I will share for directions on how to make invisible ink in an upcoming blog post)…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

The secret message said, “Our snack is missing!  Can you help us solve this mystery?”  When the children were finished uncovering the secret message, I read it to them and asked if they would like to help us find our snack.  They were all very excited to help get our snack back!  I divided the  class into groups of 3-4 children and each group was given a picture clue to begin unraveling the mystery of the missing snack (groups of two would be better but requires a bit more planning and space)…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

To make the picture clues, I photographed and printed enough pictures of items found around our classroom so that each group would have ten clues to find.  In each photo was a clue as to where the next photo could be found in the classroom.  I hid the photos around the classroom…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

With magnifying glasses in their hands, the children rushed around the classroom looking for the items shown in their photos.  Some children found crumbs around the room and were sure that they were clues (ummm, but this was just a sign that we need to sweep better)…

The Mystery of the Missing Snack by Teach Preschool

As the children located the item they were looking for, another picture clue was waiting for them either inside, behind, or underneath the item…

The Mystery of the Missing Snack by Teach Preschool

Each group had 10 items to locate around the classroom, with each item holding a photograph as to where they could find their next clue.  The 10th photograph revealed where part of our snack could be found…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

The children all had a wonderful time rushing around the room in search of their next clue.  It was a great exercise in teamwork. And in case you’re wondering if they solved the mystery, they did!  And it was delicious…

The missing snack mystery by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to grown on:

DIY mystery fun box by Crumbbums

Clubhouse scavenger hunt, the mystery games by Fit Kids Clubhouse

Pumpkin patch scavenger hunt by Teach Preschool

By |2013-02-22T06:00:53+00:00February 22nd, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Eddie - The Usual Mayhem February 22, 2013 at 7:24 am - Reply

    I love this activity! Making notes for our library trip later today. Thanks for sharing !

  2. Shelley February 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    This is a WONDERFUL idea! I am sure my 5 1/2 year old and 3 year old would love this.

    Your blog is so inspiring! Thank you!

  3. Summer Cumberland February 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Great idea, will have to do this with my group. I have a question, in one of your pictures, I saw a a cube with library envelopes on it. What are the children using those for?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Summer,
      You are super observant! Those are our mystery math boxes. We use them to play different kinds of math games. Each pocket is for a card – we can change the card to whatever we like and the boxes are filled with our math tokens (things we collect from home for math). This photo is an example of how we used the math boxes for counting objects…

      Mystery Math Boxes

      We will have to blog about them sometime soon!!


      • Summer Cumberland February 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

        Thank-you for sharing. Another great idea that I will have to borrow from you, and would love to see a blog about them:)

  4. Rocio February 23, 2013 at 1:13 am - Reply

    I LOVE IT!!! I,m just sorry I,m too old for attending your class

  5. Rachelle February 23, 2013 at 2:21 am - Reply

    This is absolutely brilliant, Deborah. My kids are obsessed with mysteries (I make up mysteries to tell them before bedtime), and they would love this. I’m off to hunt down a copy of the book. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

  6. Primary Beginnings Preschool February 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    This is awesome! Our kids would absolutely love something like this. Thank you for posting! Your ideas are brilliant!

  7. Caitland March 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    How long did this activity take you? I have a part-day program with about 16-20 children and I would LOVE to give them a mystery to solve!

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