Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday Made It - Mystery Box

I am finally joining the crew of creative teachers on Tara's blog at Fourth Grade Frolics who have posted about nifty little items they've made for their classrooms.  About two weeks ago I came across a box at the Hallmark store that was marked down to $2.50 because of small nick on the top.  Back in late June I had discovered some polka-dot packing tape on the clearance rack at JoAnn Fabrics for about $0.80!  When I saw the box, I got a brainstorm about decorating it with the packing tape.
I often use a "mystery box" to introduce a new unit or concept to my students.  For example, when we start a unit on Maps, I put a map in the box, and the students have to ask me questions to find out what's in the box.  It's sort of like 20 questions, but I don't always limit the number of questions to 20.  The directions I give to the students for this activity are:

     1. The questions they ask me must have a yes or no answer, like - Do you use it inside a house?
     2. They must listen to each others' questions and answers to find out what's in the box.
     3. I suggest they try to find out properties of the item, rather than just guessing about it being specific items like - Is it a pencil?
     4. The person who guesses correctly gets to keep the item on their desk for the rest of the day.

At times, the students have become frustrated, and I remember someone asking once if I would just tell them what it was, but I always review what they've learned so far from the answers to the questions.  And you might want to "veer" them in the right direction with a little clue if needed.

I've put a thermometer in the box when beginning a study on weather, or chopsticks when  studying Japan - anything with a link to the unit would be suitable.  The students are very engaged and interested with this kind of kick-off to a unit.

Anyway - here is how my new Mystery Box turned out.  I added some letter stickers that I had to the side:


  1. Your box turned out very cute! I really like this idea for introducing new units. :)

  2. Thanks for the comment and stopping by Mrs. D!

  3. Hi! Just wanted to know that we nominated you for an award. Stop by our site to pick it up.

    Heather and Juli
    Simple in Second

  4. I have used a mystery bag before but this is so much better! Your box turned out so cute and I'm inspired with how many ways you use it. What a great engage piece to kick off a unit or lesson. Awesome!

    The Teaching Thief

    1. Thanks for the sweet comments Amanda! I'm sorry I haven't joined up with Fiction Fridays. I was on vacation for 10 days and am still recuperating from a great trip! I promise to link up again soon though!