Lesson Plan for The Secret Ingredient

12/18/2012 16:53

Our favorite teacher, Donna Sakuta, has created a second lesson plan for The Teashop Girls community! This plan is based on The Secret Ingredient. Please feel free to print it out to use in your own classroom or book club.

The Secret Ingredient

Chapter 1

  1.  What time of year is it at the beginning of the story?
  2. What contest did Annie enter?  What is the grand prize?
  3. Who do you thing Annie will take with her on the trip if she wins the contest?
  4. What did Geena pretend to be at acting camp?
  5. What does Geena think about to make her “cry on cue”?
  6. Who is always hanging around the Steeping Leaf Tea Shop?  Why?
  7. What things will be included on Annie’s blog, SteepingLeafScone.com?

Chapter 2

  1. What is matcha?
  2. Who are Oliver and Theresa?
  3. What is in the scone base; list the dry ingredients, list the wet ingredients. What is important to remember when making scones?
  4. Louisa tells Annie, “This contest is great for business.”  Why?
  5. What kind of scones has Annie blogged about so far?  What kind of response does she get?

Activity:  Make a basic scone from the recipe in the book.

Chapter 3

Vocabulary:  dalliance

  1. What type of scone did Annie try to make next?  What “made them look festive”?
  2. What is “the whole point of the blogs”?
  3. What kind of gift certificate will Annie recommend her father buy for her mother’s birthday?  Why?
  4. What are the advantages of using locally grown food?
  5. Identify the protagonist in the story.

Chapter 4

  1.  What is different about the SweetCakes.com blog?  What do you notice about the times of the blog comments?
  2. After seeing a picture of Cecily Stevens in a magazine, what does Geena worry about?
  3. What beauty products can you make with tea?

Chapter 5

  1. How did Zach help Annie make the scones?
  2. What did Zach do when Annie fell?

Chapter 6

  1. Why are Annie and Zoe concerned about Geena?
  2. How does Geena’s mother influence her eating habits?

Chapter 7

  1. What foods does Louisa suggest be added to a diet instead of taking food away?
  2. What did Annie discover on the blog page?


Go to a local whole foods market; try quinoa, tahini, or some other new healthy food.

Chapter 8

  1.  What do you think are the best ideas on Annie’s list to get 500 new blog followers?
  2. What do Annie and Geena write on the sidewalk?
  3. Why is Geena tired?

Chapter 9

  1.  What was Geena doing to lose weight?
  2. What does Annie put in the scones this time?
  3. What is Annie’s “favorite part of the job”?
  4. How did Zach act towards Annie at the park?

Chapter 10

  1.  Why was Annie confused about Zach?
  2. What is the secret ingredient?
  3. What place in the contest is SweetCakes?  What place is SteepingLeafScones?
  4. Why was Annie being nice to Zach?
  5. What does Zach say to make Annie think he is “THE SCONE SPY”?

Chapter 11

  1.  Why was it “funny” for Annie to see Zoe “working in the dirt”?
  2. What did Annie want her “next scone to be”?
  3. What fruit or vegetable from Annie’s list would you like to try in a scone?


See if there is a community garden in your area.   Volunteer at your local community garden.

Chapter 12

  1.  What is nori?
  2. How many new followers does SteepingLeafScones have now? 
  3. What are the reasons for so many new followers in one day?


Research Billie Holiday on the internet.  Listen to some of her music. 

Write a short biography about her; what time period was she popular, what genre of music did she sing?

Chapter 13

  1.  Where does Louisa usually shop?
  2. What is polenta?
  3. If you “skip meat” what nutrients do you need to include in your diet?
  4. What early civilization cultivated quinoa?  What nutritional component does quinoa contain?
  5. What new ideas did Anne come up with for her next scone?

Chapter 14

  1.  Who spotted Annie at the store?  What was in her cart she didn’t want anyone to see?
  2. Why does Annie want to make her scones at home?
  3. What is in the Rangoon Scone?  What does Annie think of the scone?
  4. Why did Annie feel bad and hope Zoe wasn’t annoyed with her?
  5. Chapter 15
  1. Why doesn’t Annie go to the tea shop lately?
  2. When Annie passed out fliers in from of Batch Bake House, who came outside and spoke with her?
  3. What was said about passing out fliers?
  4. What offer did she receive from the owner of Batch Bake House?

Chapter 16

  1.  Describe Pricilla.
  2. According to Tom Hines, what is “very important” about the ingredients used?
  3. Tom tells Anne she can win the contest with what kind of scone?
  4. What is Tom’s secret ingredient?
  5. What philosophy of Julia Child does Tom agree with?


  • Research Julia Child on the internet.  Write down a few facts you learned about her.
  • Read the memoir of Julia Child, My Life in France.

Chapter 17

  1. What ingredients did Annie think Zach was made of?
  2. What ingredients would you use to describe yourself?
  3. What question did Annie ask Zach?  How did he respond?
  4. What did Annie dream about?

Activity:  Write a recipe for a good friend.

Chapter 18

  1. What hurtful thing did Zoe say to Annie?
  2. What does Annie realize about friendship?
  3. What kind of video does Zoe want to make?
  4. What food comparison is made on the video?

Chapter 19

  1.  Where does Annie get fresh eggs?
  2. How did the plain scone turn out?
  3. Why was Zoe’s project of getting locally grown food into schools complicated?
  4. What is REAP?
  5. What audience does Zoe decide to make her next video for and why?
  6. How will Zoe participating in “food activism” indirectly help cure cancer?

Chapter 20

  1.  What was Geena doing in the basement?
  2. Why does Geena feel she is “already at a disadvantage” to be a part of the acting community?
  3. How does Annie try to encourage Geena?

Chapter 21

  1. Why is Zoe able to work with a charter school “in sourcing some food locally”?
  2. To stay in the contest, what place did SteepingLeafScone need to be in?
  3. What place was SteepingLeafScone at when Annie went to bed?

Activity:  Design a poster about the blog and scone contest for Annie.

Chapter 22

  1.  When Annie woke up the next morning, how close was SteepingLeafScone to being in the top 5?
  2. Who did Geena contact to help?
  3. What place did SteepingLeafScone move up to?

Chapter 23

  1.  Who went with Annie to Chicago?
  2.  How did Anne feel about being in front of cameras and the judges?
  3. What advice did Zoe and Geena give her?
  4. Who did the girls run into in the bathroom?

Chapter 24

  1. Describe Lily from SweetCakes. 
  2. Who are the other contestants, how old are they?
  3. What is Annie wearing for the bake off?

Chapter 25

  1. What did Louisa give Annie to put in the scones?  What is special about it?
  2. What type of scone did Annie decide to make for the contest?
  3. How did Annie make her glaze?
  4. What went wrong with the scones the “boy in the chef’s hat” baked?

Chapter 26

  1. Who won the contest?
  2. As second place winner, what prize did Annie receive?

Chapter 27

  1.  Why was SweetCakes disqualified?
  2. What irregularities did the other competitors discover about the blog followers of SweetCakes?
  3. Who is the new winner?

Activity:  Draw a picture of the Tea Cup Trophy

Chapter 28

  1. What was the secret ingredient?
  2.  What does Annie discover about all the last minute blogs her site received?
  3. How does Annie feel about what Zach did?

Chapter 29

  1. What did Annie want to see in London?
  2. What did Zoe want to visit in London?
  3. How did the Tea Shop Girls start out their first day of high school?


  • Select your favorite scone recipe from the book and make them.
  • Make a smoothie, tea, or drink recipe from the book to have with your scones?