Monday, August 6, 2012

Mystery Bags {Freebie}

Last night I set my alarm for an ambitious 7:30am so I could get into school and work all day in my classroom.....I woke up at 10:00. Oi {my goodness} vey! My internal clock is going to have a very rude awakening in a couple weeks. So... after my late morning, I could have gone into school a little later....but that didn't happen either. I have no excuse except for being lazy, and maybe a slight case of denial about school starting. I WILL be going in to school early tomorrow and working all day, though.

I ran a TON of errands today getting stuff for my classroom- which always turns out to be a more expensive trip than I had planned. I got a lot of organizational stuff. I get a small "high" at the thought of organization with a color-scheme. I think this is true of many teachers :) I will post some pictures of my goodies tomorrow when I get them into the classroom.

Enough about my procrastination! I have an easy back-to-school ice breaker activity for pretty much any grade level to share with you. They are called Mystery Bags and are quick and easy as pie. There are so many back to school activities and "get to you know you" or "all about me" projects (which I love, don't get me wrong), but sometimes I need an activity that will just get my kiddos TALKING to each other and working with a variety of partners during those first few days.

Mystery Bags can be a partner, small group or whole group activity, and honestly it's not anything ground breaking or new, but I'll share how I have done it in my class. I start with a large brown bag with some sort of prize for the kiddos. They have to guess what is in the bag and we make a list. As I give them clues, they decide if they need to cross out any of the ideas from their original list. The list gets pretty narrowed down after they get some clues, or I shake the bag and they can hear it. If I see them getting stumped, I will let them ask me a yes or no question about it. Sometimes I have fun pencils inside for them to use during the following activity with partners.

The whole group activity is pretty much just an example of what they will do with partners. After you reveal what's in the bag, students will make their own Mini Mystery Bags with a lunch-size paper bag and one of the little poem labels shown below glued on the front.

With a partner, they will choose a mystery item to put in the bag either from the classroom, or I usually have an assortment of more unique objects for them to use that might not be typical to a classroom to make it more challenging {apple, deck of cards, dice, mini pumpkins, candy cane- anything that will fit in the bag basically!} A lot of times I also just have my kids ask their partner questions about the mystery object- instead of one giving clues. This gets them thinking up their own questions, and they soon realize the better questions they ask, but faster they can figure out what's inside!

After the kiddos have partnered with a few different people and done a few different objects, we do a quick wrap up discussion about what types of objects were the hardest to guess, why they were hard, what types of clues were the most helpful, yada yada.

Like I said, this idea is nothing elaborate, but it's an activity that helps when you are trying to get your class to mesh and work with each other. It's also easy to plug in during short periods of downtime during the first couple days when schedules are a bit more jumbled than usual. If you want to make some Mystery Bags for your kiddos, you can grab the little poem that I made up for the front of them by clicking {HERE}. I am also thinking of making some kind of activity sheet to go with it- so if I come up with that, I'll put if up in a later post.

Alrighty, this girl is going out to dinner! My mom is visiting and helping me all week with school stuff!! She made the most adorable outfit for my jumbo monkey that I can't wait to put on him tomorrow. Get ready for a load of pictures tomorrow :)


  1. This is such a cute back to school activity! Thanks for sharing! :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  2. I have done a version of this in the past, but I love having multiple partners so they really get to talk with each other more! Super cute!

  3. You describe these things very impressively.