Are you looking for a fun, quick ESL activity that you can use with kids? Then you’re in the right place because there’s nothing like a mystery box for creating some fun and excitement in a TEFL class. Keep on reading to learn more about this Mystery Box game.
Mystery Box ESL Activity
Time: 5-10 minutes
Materials: Several small objects, a box
The mystery box game is one my students’ favourite ESL activities for kids (adults like to play it too). I like to use this activity just after studying adjectives. I’ll make sure we have learned words that describe texture as well as the usual size and shape words. This is a fun activity, but it is best with small classes due to the time it takes for each student to have a turn.
You can use this as an ESL kindergarten activity as long as your students know a reasonable amount of vocabulary.
What you Need to Prepare for the Mystery Box Game
Before class, you will need to prepare a large shoe box or similar, by cutting a hole slightly larger than fist-sized and covering the hole. You can use garland or tissue paper, but a handkerchief is fastest and easiest. Whatever you use, the students should not be able to see inside the box, but they should be able to stick their hand inside.
Or, Consider Playing What’s in the Bag?
If you don’t have a cardboard box and don’t want to go through the trouble of finding one, you can also play, “What’s in the bag?” quite easily. Everything is the same except for the objects are in a bag or some kind instead of a box.
How to Do the Mystery Box Activity?
One by one, have students take turns feeling inside the box. As they feel, ask them questions about the size, shape, texture, etc. Once everyone has had a turn, review the answers students gave while feeling and elicit guesses as to what is in the box. As students guess items correctly, pull them from the box. If no one can guess some items, end by showing them to the class.
You can use anything (not sharp), but children’s toys are good for this, as well as letter magnets.
This ESL Mystery Activity Works Best for Smaller Classes
Due to the time involved with each child feeling inside the box, this activity is best suited to small classes. The goal of TEFL classes is to make them as student-centred as possible. That is, the students should be talking or working on some other skill for the majority of the class! If you have more than 10-12 students for this activity, there are just too many of them watching 1 student do something.
However, an option for bigger classes if you still want to do this mystery box activity is to use it throughout the semester. Then, 1-2 students per class can have a chance to play. To keep things fresh and interesting, take out and then add a couple of new things every few classes.
Procedure for the Mystery Box Activity:
1. In advance, prepare a large shoebox or copy paper box by cutting a hand-sized hole and then covering it with a handkerchief, so students can reach in but can’t see inside.
2. Place several small (not sharp!) objects inside. The class should know the names of the objects.
3. Have students take turns reaching in the box and feeling the objects.
4. As students feel the objects, ask them questions about the size, shape, and texture of the items.
5. When everyone has had a turn, elicit guesses from the students about what they think the objects are.
6. As students correctly identify items, remove them from the box. If the class cannot guess some items, end the activity by showing the remaining items to the class.
Teaching Tips for this ESL Mystery Game
One important thing to think about is if the children know the names of the items you’ve put in the box. They should be quite familiar.
Also, think about class size. Of course, everyone is going to want to have a turn to feel inside the box. If you have a class of more than 8 or 10 students, this is going to take an entire class and will get kind of boring!
Or, you could do this activity for larger classes and organize it so that each week, 5 different children get to give it a try.
Did You Like this Mystery Box Game?
If you like this ESL Activity for Kids then you’re going to love this book: 39 ESL Review Activities for Kids (6-13). It’s filled with 38 more fun, engaging, and interesting ESL review activities. ESL review classes often have a bad rap and for good reason-they’re often quite boring! But, they don’t have to be.
The best part about this book is that your students will love review classes and you won’t have to spend a lot of time preparing the lesson. Everyone wins with this one!
The best part is that the book is available in both print and digital formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, put a copy on your phone to take with you for lesson planning on the go.
It really is that easy to make your English classes for kids more interesting and engaging.
You can easily get this book full of fun ESL review activities on Amazon, but only if you want to have some more ESL awesome in your life:
Check out this Vocabulary Review Games for Kids
If you’re looking for some more interesting ways to review new words because this ESL mystery game, check out this short video below for another good one:
Have your say about Mystery Box ESL Activity
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