The mystery box is always a favourite. You can make it out of any box, or even use a bag instead! All you need is space for your child to put in both their hands.

What you do is place some familiar objects in the box, and your child will try to figure out what objects they are holding by using their sense of touch only.

You can also use 3D shapes in the mystery box. Children can learn how shapes feel by trying to figure out which shape they are holding in the mystery box, which is a sensorial way of learning about shapes.

The mystery box can be used over and over again, and can be played outside as well as inside the house!

How to make it

You will need

  • A box or bag.
  • Paper for your child to draw or write (see below).
  • Objects you find around the house. Good objects to try could be:
    • A key
    • An orange
    • A spoon
    • A piece of Lego
    • A hairbrush
    • A hair tie or elastic
    • A shell
    • A toy
    • A sponge
    • A smooth pebble
    • A rough pebble
    • A piece of felt
    • A colored marker
    • A piece of ribbon
    • A button
    • A clothespin
    • A bead
    • A pompom
    • A shoelace

Let’s get started!

  • Make two holes in the mystery box for your child to put their hands through when guessing what objects are inside.
  • Your child can decorate the box if you wish. Try paint, crayons or wrapping paper.
  • Without your child seeing what you put in, add some objects to the box. Once they are in, your child can start guessing what they are.
  • Celebrate the wins and fun of trying!

Learning opportunities

With this sensory activity, children will learn a lot of language (in describing what they are feeling), including math language when describing attributes like soft, rough, shapes, etc. Although this may not seem like a reading game, it really does a lot for your child’s reading and literacy skills, as these improve with increase in vocabulary.

Describing while using vocabulary is one of the most important learning outcomes at this age. It teaches them reading and mathematics.

CEFA tip: Work with objects that your child can guess at first, increasingly making it more complex. You can even start with just one object if your child is young, and say, for instance “Guess what is hiding in the mystery box…” And you can give clues, like: “Is it baby’s bottle? Is it baby’s blanket?”

Extended learning opportunities

  • You add writing skills by having your child draw the objects that they find (fine motor skills, pencil grip practice) or write the names of the objects they find.
  • You can play a nature version of this game by hiding things that you find outside in the box, like a pine cone, a leaf, a rock, a seed, etc.