Children love a mystery-and, naturally, they love to solve it! With just a few ideas you can turn the all-time favorite mystery game, the Feely Box (or Bag), into a great tool for encouraging thinking skills, including perception, prediction, analysis, and synthesis. Along the way, children will be using important expressive and descriptive language.

It's easy to get started. Just put an item (more than one, if you want) in a bag and invite children to guess what it is. They can use tactile, visual, or auditory clues, or "all of the above!" Ask open-ended questions to spark children's thinking. (What does this remind you of? How many ways can you describe it or use it?) Write down their ideas. This will help them make a connection between the spoken and the written word.

Begin With a Great Bag

Start with a colorful pillowcase or bag. Encourage multi-sensory learning by using bags with varying textures. (A burlap feed bag will feel very different from a satin pillowcase and will invite children to use different vocabulary in the game.) Consider an attractive gift box for larger items.

Children may like to help you decorate a special Feely Box to use for a new twist on Show & Tell, in which they hide their Show & Tell object in the box/bag and ask their classmates to guess what it is! Children love giving clues for others. Tactile, auditory, and/or verbal clues (their choice) can be used to solve the mystery, turning a standard activity into a deductive-reasoning game!

Mix in Great Stuff!

This is the fun part, because the game changes when you change what's in the bag. Now is the time to think "out of the box" (or the bag!) by presenting children with challenging objects and ideas. Look for objects that have an unusual shape or that children may not have seen before. Invite children to feel the objects and try to guess what they are. Then reveal the secret items and ask children to suggest many different ways to use them.

Shift the nature of the game from visual/tactile to auditory by adding objects that make a sound. Ask: What might make this sound? How many different things can we think of that make a similar sound? Write children's answers and predictions on chart paper, then pull out the item!

More Fun With Feely Bag Games Feel and Say!

A multi-sensory feely bag game is perfect for the development of descriptive vocabulary. Place an interesting object in the bag and invite children to use as many different words as they can to describe it as they feel it. Write their words down in rows like a poem-big, squishy, soft, round. After children have described the object, they can try to identify it and add the word to the end of the poem: Big, squishy, soft, round ... Pillow!

Favorite Storybook Characters

Use children's literature to get the game going. Place a stuffed character such as Clifford or Miss Spider in the bag. Invite children to notice the shape of the object and predict what it might be. Then invite them to take turns feeling inside. Encourage children to use adjectives to describe what they are feeling. Write these on an experience chart. Analyze the words. What character do we know that has these traits?

Feely Bag Stories

Feel around inside the bag and pull out a toy. You might start the story by saying, "Once upon a time there was a ... (little bear). He was happily walking along until, OOPS! He bumped into a... " At this point in the story, pass the bag to one of the children and ask him to pull out another toy and continue the story. After everyone has had a chance to pull out a toy and add to the story, use your toy to create a "happily ever after" ending.

Feely Bag Games Throughout the Day

Beside group and transition times, you can use your feely bag or box throughout the day in different centers. Put the box in the manipulative or block area and hide some blocks or manipulatives inside. Invite children to deduce what is inside and how they are going to use them to build. Make collections of small counters from one to 10 and ask children to find them in the bag and seriate in order. Put in sets of objects that go together in some way (plate and cup, crayon and paper) and invite children to feel for the matches.

In the art area, turn a brown paper lunch bag into feely bag art! Place a collection of recycled and art materials inside. What can you do with all this wonderful stuff? Suggest that children make it into a feely bag collage or sculpture.

At the end of the day, place objects in the bag or box. Ask children to reach inside to get an interesting item to take home in their own bag and play the game with their family. Can the family guess what is in your bag? Tell us what happened tomorrow at group time!