The Mystery Bag is a much-loved activity that has yet to lose its fun with the children. I use it as a high-interest hook to draw the kids away from free play into group time. After the activity, they’re already in a circle and in a concentrating sort of mood, so it’s easier to transition to the Bible story. The original instructions state that each child should place his hand in the bag, describe what he is feeling (“I feel something soft and round”), make a guess as to what it is, then remove the object to check how accurate his guess is. Our class attempted this.
Teacher – I feel something hard and poky…I think it is the star. Pulls it out. I’m right! Passes bag to girl on right.
Girly Princess – Furrows brow, and carefully feels around bag. I feel something…brown? Um…
Mischievous Cherubic Boy – Figures he’ll take a shortcut, for why would he bother guessing when he could just pull it out? It’s a soldier! Bang! Bang!
The children simply did not have the vocabulary to think of adjectives to describe the objects before pulling it out. So I changed the rules so that each child had to tell me what they were planning to pull out before they put their hand it. That way, they’re still focusing on the tactile input coming into their brain. That worked out well.
Today, I dumped out the bag, and set out retiring some of the pieces and adding others.
The favorite objects seem to be ones that children can do something with. The prism is always the first out, and promptly brought up to the eyes to look at the light through it. The jingle bell can be rung, so it is generally second. The boys like the metal soldier for reasons beyond my comprehension. The bracelet can be put on the wrist, and one can put things in the velvet bag.
The star has an easily identifiable shape, and the little bear is kinda cute. The wooden knob, stone, cotton ball and shell eventually do get picked. This shell is made of sterner stuff than the first shell I used, which broke within the first week.
I’m getting rid of the lego because I feel like it, and the penny because it always falls to the bottom of the bag and is difficult to find. The ribbon tends to stick to a child’s fingers when she is trying to pull another toy out.
I’ve got a pair of buzz magnets around the house somewhere that I’m going to add. I’m also throwing in a plastic horse, and a dollhouse sized wooden barrel with a lid that comes off and on.