I don't quite know what it is, but there is a fascination to the Mystery Box that brings us to a close at the end of each school day. With approximately 15 minutes left until the dismissal bell, the dragons have two tasks - 1} pack your backpacks, and 2) get ready for the Mystery Box. We all know that if we take too long doing the 1st, there will be little time for the 2nd. Heaven-help-us if it ever has to go that far.
The goal; to place a "mystery" item into the box (a cheap, or donated, collapsible lunch box that I get at the beginning of the year) and have your classmates try to guess what it is from the 3 clues, written and read by the child (in the beginning of the year, parents help out in the writing process). The only rule (other than that it has to fit in the box) is that the item cannot be alive. It hasn't happened...yet! But it is amazing what some kids can get to fit into the box. "Who knew that a large stuffed animal can be squeezed into such a tight space?"
It's a great exercise in reading, writing, and cognition - and puts a little twist on the typical show-and-share activities. The elements of suspense, and surprise, are nice too! At the literacy level, the kids learn to think creatively about the clues, write them down, then share them. At the social-level, it helps us to build confidence as we share in front of the group. The kids know to show respect, have listening-ears, and raise their hands. Some kids plan out their mystery item weeks in advance - shutting eyes, crossing-fingers & legs at the chance to take the Mystery Box home. We do a random draw from our name-Popsicle sticks, and each kiddo gets it once every twenty days or so. So here you go...our Mystery Box.