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How to Teach Inferencing With a Mystery Box

In this post, I will share how to teach inferencing with a Mystery Box! I have used a Mystery Box in the past to engage…

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Teachers, using a Mystery Box will help you teach your students about inferencing and will lay the groundwork so that students can infer while reading! This fun and engaging activity will support your teaching of inferences in the kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, or fifth grade classroom!
In this post, I will share how to teach inferencing with a Mystery Box! 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 🙂
And THAT, is how to teach inferencing with a Mystery Box!
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 🙂
Teachers, these three activities will help you teach your students about inferencing and will lay the groundwork so that students can infer while reading! There's a video explanation included along with a FREE activity that will support your teaching of inferences in the kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, or fifth grade classroom!
{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.}
Happy teaching!

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29 comments

  1. 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! 🙂

    Kelly
    http://www.mchaffiek.blogspot.com

  2. 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.
    April
    msbrownsgrade2class.blogspot.com

  3. 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.

    Thanks…xx.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

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