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All is not as it seems: 'The cookie thief'

To reflect on the need not to jump to conclusions or judge others too quickly, and to respond with kindness even when we are wronged.

by Kirk Hayles

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect on the need not to jump to conclusions or judge others too quickly, and to respond with kindness even when we are wronged.

Preparation and materials

  • The assembly is based upon the poem ‘The cookie thief’, by Valerie Cox.
  • You will need two identical paper bags, each containing five cookies (the small ones that can be eaten quickly are best). Check food allergies.
  • You will also need a travel bag and a couple of books. Put one book and one of the bags of cookies in the travel bag – along with other items to ‘hide’ the secreted bag of cookies.
  • Before the start of the assembly, place three chairs at the front of the assembly space with the travel bag on the middle chair and the other paper bag of five small cookies out of sight behind the travel bag. The three chairs are the airport departure lounge. Put two further chairs to one side of the ‘stage’: these will be the plane.
  • I chose not to read the poem but just to tell the story with children acting it out. For the acting out you will need two volunteers to be the two passengers (a man and a woman). There is no need to prepare the children for the roles.


  1. Ask for two volunteers to act out the story that you are going to tell.

    Tell the volunteers to sit on the two outside chairs. Explain that they are passengers waiting in an airport departure lounge for their flights. They don’t know each other and are waiting for an announcement to board their planes.

    The man is reading a book (give one to the volunteer).
  2. ‘The cookie thief’

    The lady is getting a bit bored. She decides that she will get her own book out to read (she gets it out of the travel bag). 

    An announcement comes over the speaker system that her flight is delayed.

    The lady is getting a bit peckish so decides she will have one of her cookies. Without looking up from her book, she reaches down by her bag and takes a cookie (the child reaches into the paper bag behind the travel bag).

    To her astonishment, the man also reaches down and helps himself to a cookie and eats it all (child gets a cookie out of the same paper bag).

    The lady is shocked and thinks what an awful man he must be. She chooses to say nothing but gives him a look of disdain.

    She has a further cookie and again the man takes one and quickly eats it. (Lots can be made of this – how the lady must be feeling – her shock and surprise. Get the children to imagine how they would feel in her place.)

    Then to her disbelief, the man reaches down and takes the last cookie in the bag, looks at her, breaks it in half, offers her half of it and he eats the other half.

    The lady snatches it off him and with a scowl eats it.

    Another announcement is made and it is the lady’s flight that is being called. She pushes her book in to her travel bag, puts the bag over her shoulder, grabs the cookie bag, screws it up in anger, throws it in the bin and with an angry look at the man, storms off to the departure gate and her plane (child moves and sits on one of the other two seats: the plane), leaving the man behind to wait for his own flight.

    Settling in to her plane seat, the lady prepares for the flight. She reaches into her travel bag to get her book. (Give a gasp of astonishment and shocked disbelief.)

    To the lady’s horror, she discovers her bag of cookies! (She pulls out of her travel bag an identical paper bag to the one just screwed up and thrown away. Hold this up.)
  3. Depending upon the age of the children, remind them of what has happened and point out that the man had offered the lady half of the last cookie even though they were his cookies.

Time for reflection

What a terrible situation to be in!

But reflect upon what the man did. Even though the lady was eating his cookies, he graciously let her have half of his last one.

Would we have done the same? 

Just as that lady did, do we think bad thoughts about people when they act strangely? Perhaps we should sometimes turn around how we think and respond with kindness even when we feel we are wronged.


‘Now the harvest is all gathered’ (Come and Praise, 139)

Publication date: October 2012   (Vol.14 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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