Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Super Secret Mystery Box

I've had a lot of fun doing this with my class, and the children have really gotten into it. The best part about it is that it is so easy to adapt to various age levels. All you need is a box - think large shoe box - with a hole in the side big enough for children to easily put their hands into and take things out of, but not so big that they can see into it. That's the whole super-secret mystery part. ;)

There are three ways you can use the super-secret mystery box:

1. This first activity is good for children ages 2 to 3 who are still working on basic verbal skills. I incorporate the letter of the week into the activity, but it is only in an effort to expose the children to letters and their sounds. At this age, the focus is really on getting them to talk, talk, talk. :) The children simply reach into the box, and name the item they take out. This week I placed a baby doll, book, bear, ball, and bananas (plastic of course) in the mystery box and the children took turns taking the items out, naming them and placing them in the "B" box. The "B" box will stay out until we do the letter "C" next week. However, the likelihood that the items will actually remain in the box that long is not too good.

2. For older preschoolers, you can place one item in the box, and have the children take turns feeling it and giving a one word description of it (long, square, rough etc.). Then ask the students to guess what it is. This is a great way to get them to think about the properties of things. The difficulty with this activity is finding an object that lends itself to a lot of descriptions. With a large class, it would be best to let all the children touch the item, then call on a few to describe it. You could also give the children a chance to make multiple guesses as to what it is, and see who's right.

3. Another way to challenge your older preschoolers is to place items in the box and ask them to simply guess what they are - only by touch. This might be a good follow-up to the 2nd activity, or you can slowly work your way up to more and more difficult items over time as the children get better at it. This activity is fun in that each child can be given a different item to feel.To start out, you could set out simple objects that might be in the box for the children to see, and have the children take turns guess which one they find in the box. Then, you can place more and more complex objects in the box over time to challenge them. My son loved this activity. He couldn't get enough of it, and I thought it was really fun too. My husband and I got so into it, we were trying to trick each other with some really tough choices, and were even guessing the letters on Sebastian's wood blocks. I totally won! ;)

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