It’s a Mystery!

It’s a Mystery! is a guessing game that can be played in a number of different ways. In the first method, you assign one student as the ‘clue giver.’ This student peeks inside the mystery box and provides the ‘guessers’ with clues describing the object. Another way to play this game is to conceal the object and the clue giver describes how the object feels. An alternative method involves students bringing a mystery object from home and providing clues for their classmates. It’s a Mystery! encourages students to use explicit language, especially vocabulary dealing with texture, physical attributes, and function. Students also practise speaking in complete sentences.

container to hold a mystery object (shoe box, large bag)
– familiar household or school objects
Grouping: whole class/small group or partners

Introducing the Game

  1. Explain that there is a mystery object in the container and you are going to provide clues so that the students can guess the object.
  2. Model how to peek in the box, look carefully at the object, and then provide descriptive clues about the hidden object.
  3. Invite students to guess what the object is.
  4. Continue giving clues until the object is identified.
  5. Share the object and review the clues.
  6. Discuss how some clues are better than others. For example, when describing a pencil, you might say: “It is long, yellow and has an end.” More explicit clues such as: “You print and draw with it, there is an eraser on the end, and it has a sharp point.” might be more helpful to the guessers.
  7. Have students take on the role of clue giver.
  8. Model how to play the alternative game where you give clues without actually seeing the object.
  9. Reinforce the use of texture words (e.g., ‘rough,’ ‘smooth,’ ‘soft,’ ‘hard,’ ‘wrinkly,’ ‘scratchy,’ ‘bumpy,’ ‘prickly,’ ‘fluffy’) and physical attributes (e.g., ‘points,’ ‘corners,’ ‘shapes,’ ‘flat sides,’ ‘what it is made of,’ ‘moving parts’).
  10. Explain that if you know what the object is you can give clues about how the object is used.
  11. Ask students to provide clues for other mystery objects.

Playing the Game

  1. Peek at the object but don’t say what it is.
  2. Give a descriptive clue to the group or your partner.
  3. Invite guesses.
  4. Continue giving clues until the object is identified.
  5. Show the object and discuss the clues.


  • Challenge students to describe the object using a negative descriptor (e.g., “This cannot be a tissue because it feels hard like metal.” “This cannot be a stuffed animal because it feels crumply.”).