Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mystery Box! {Inferencing Activity}

Happy Saturday, y'all!  I'm living in a world of gray today - it is just totally blah outside.  Snow? Sleet?  Freezing rain?  Welcome to my life.  When will we ever see sunny and warm again????

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I have used a Mystery Box in the past to engage students in a lesson.  It is an excellent way to encourage their little noggins to think and we all love a good guessing game.  

The "old" mystery box!

After I found this great DIY box at Target, I just knew that I could improve my old, worn Mystery Box.  Plus, I thought many of you might like to make one, too.  So, here's my new improved box.  Love it!

I brought it out to my students yesterday, and prefaced our little mini-lesson by telling them its contents were related to the activities we'd be doing next week.  I held it up, shook it, and passed it around to my kiddos so they could feel its weight. 

Then I told them to guess what was inside.  I recorded their guesses {pre-clues} in black on a whole group graphic organizer.  Groundog, anyone?  Afterwards, we discussed why some guesses were more appropriate than others. 

Next, I distributed 1 clue to each student in the room.  They had to record their clue on a corresponding response sheet, and then find a friend with a different clue.  {There were 4 clues total.} 

These were copied and cut apart.

 Once they found and recorded all 4 clues, they were instructed to read the clues altogether and write or draw about what they now thought was in the Mystery Box

Their guesses ranged from paper airplane, to American flag (since one of the clues was "It is red and white."), to what was actually inside:  a Valentine :)

Before revealing what was inside, we reconvened as a group to discuss our new guesses.  We recorded those guesses on our graphic organizer in pink.  Then, again, we discussed why some guesses were more appropriate than others (i.e. it was not very likely that they were going to be doing activities pertaining to a "triangle toy" next week!).  In the end, they ALL decided it was a Valentine :)

If you're interested in this activity you can purchase your own copy at Teachers Pay Teachers!  The printable includes Mystery Box templates to decorate your own mystery box, clue cards, 5 accompanying activity sheets to use with a mystery box, and a sample lesson plan (the one I discussed here).  This is another great activity to extend inferencing, too :)

{A couple of things: while the Mystery Box templates are great for the box I purchased a Target, they could be pasted on ANY OLD BOX!!!  The kids will love the activity no matter what your box looks like.  However, if you're looking for the box I used here, it's at Target in the Dollar Spot.  Also, in order to clearly view and print my acitivities YOU MUST have the most current Adobe Acrobat Download.  If you're a Mac user, you MUST have Adobe Acrobat Reader X.}

I hope your Saturday is sunnier than mine!!!  Have a good one :)


Mrs. McHaffie said...

SO cute! I have something similar to this. I use a mystery bag. This is used as our "share" bag. Whoever takes the bag home places any item in the bag, then they have to write three clues for the item. The next day they bring in the bag and we they read one clue at a time to the other kiddos. We continue guessing and deciphering through our options until someone guesses correctly. We do this all year and the kids LOVE it!!! Love the mystery box though. That would also be a great way to introduce a new unit and/or theme!!

Keep the cute ideas coming!!! :) Love it.

P.S. I'm in some gray, cold, and rainy weather also and I live in the SUNSHINE state! :)


Ladybug Teacher said...

You are very creative! I really like this idea...I think it would be a neat activity for my ELL students. Definitely an incentive to use vocabulary! Thanks for sharing. I love your new blog...the name is way creative and the look is beautiful. Have a lovely weekend!


Janae said...

I LOVE all your inferencing ideas. Such a hard topic to teach, and my kiddos are doing great with it, thanks to you! :)

MrsKinne said...

I love this! My mystery box is a cardboard box covered with construction paper and foil stars. :)

Kinderglynn said...

This is the best. You rock!

Mrs. Thiessen said...

Fantastic idea and VERY cool unit!
Thanks for sharing all of your hard work!!!!!


tiffany said...

Just an idea....spray paint a Panera bagel box????

kool kindergarten kids said...

I use an old insulated type lunch bag because I send it home and the student needs to put an object in it and write 3clues with their family and return it.

April Brown said...

I was introduced to your blog by a friend. I have to say I'm hooked. I love your idea and the unit. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I will be using it soon in my classroom once we are finished our penguin unit.
I do something similar in math but it's to help build number sense.

Plants seeds of knowledge...for our future! said...

Great activity! I love how you use the graphic organizer before and after to help students understand how to draw better conclusions! Great skills and fun!
My mind is turning for ways to help my kinders learn to use information they gain and make inferences!

Rachelle said...

O.MY.HECK! I love everything about this.

katryce said...

Just went to Target to get this box and couldn't find it:( Guess I will have to try something else. Thanks for the awesome idea.

AmberJean519 said...

hehe i'm loving the little bugger that thought a tiger cub could be in the box. how cute!

Jamie said...

That is SO cute!

I love the groundog and tiger cub guesses :)

Brandy said...

This comment has nothing to do with your mystery box (which is cool, by the way), and I know lessons about penguins are yesterdays news...but...I was sent this link about a real penguin in Japan for my children to watch and it is so stinking cute. I just know everyone's students would love it!

Dave and Linds said...

LOVE love love! this idea! thanks for sharing! i can't wait to get something like this started in my own classroom! :)

thanks again!

First Grade Best said...

Love this! Can't wait to redesign my mystery bag! Thanks for sharing your great idea!


Amanda said...

Love this! I was just thinking about revamping my mystery box... so this is so timely! :) Love the new blog!

Kate.Mich said...

I've wanted to start Mystery Box in my classroom for a while. Your blog inspired me! I went to Target and bought the box, downloaded your printables - thanks so much!!!

Would it be possible for you to post your schedule for us? I'd love to know how your day goes.


Mrs. Magee said...

I love it! Can't wait to use it with my firsties!

Ms. Monroe said...

I bought your lesson on TPT and taught the lesson today. We had so much fun. Even my "non-writer" was eager to complete his response sheets. Their guesses where way off, so I can't wait until our next Mystery Box lesson and see if they are better at inferencing! Thank you so much for such an awesome resource. Love it!

Mrs. Lewis said...

Love this! I made it this week. It turned out great. I actually laminated the box with the pieces on it.



Kidz Kindergarten and Koolaid said...

Love this idea.....will be using it soon. thanks for sharing!!!


Debra said...

I really want to get a box like yours, but I need a # so I can google it (No Target nearby). Very cute idea!

Anonymous said...

I've got a freebie Mystery Box that I've painted and use this way. If you adopt a cat they give you a cardboard cat carrier, and the bonus is that it has the walk-through hole in the front. I covered the hole with 2 pieces of fabric so kids can reach in and feel the objects, but the top fabric piece makes it so they can't see inside.
Maybe a pet store would be willing to donate one of these boxes so you don't have to buy anything!

Alyssa said...

Love this idea! Can't wait to use it next year! What are those a.m.a.z.i.n.g. fonts?!

A Teacher's Treasure said...

I use something very similar (a repurposed shoe box) and I use it to introduce new books that we read as a whole class. I love using it to teach predictions. Off to redo mine :)

❤ Mor Zrihen ❤
A Teacher's Treasure

Mrs. M said...

I absolutely LOVE your mystery box idea! I used it in reading and then changed it up for math. The box has a number in it. The students have to use 1 or 10 more/less and greater than/less than clues to find the number. They thought it was awesome! Thanks for sharing!