Prep: 15-20 Minutes / Activity Time: 10-15 Minutes

In this activity, your child will use some of her five senses to guess the mystery contents in a brown paper lunch bag (without peeking!). Encourage her to use her oral language skills to describe what she is seeing, hearing, smelling or touching.

  • small paper lunch bags
  • three to four mystery items to place inside the paper bags that can be discovered using several senses

Here are some examples:

      • bar of soap
      • ball of playdough
      • crayon or marker
      • coins
      • beads
      • uncooked pasta
      • paintbrush
      • orange peel
      • lego or block
      • cotton balls
  • photos or pictures of the mystery items (to use if needed)


Step 1: Gather three to four small paper bags and place a mystery item in each bag. Include items that children can guess by using more than one sense (see examples in the supply list).

Step 2: Close each bag securely so that your child does not peek inside.


Step 1: Discuss the five senses with your child (touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste). Talk about which body part(s) are used for each sense and how our senses help us. Tell her that she will play a game using her senses to guess what is hidden inside the bags. Tell her she will be using the sense of touch, smell, sight and hearing. She will not be using her sense of taste for this activity.

Step 2: Hand one of the bags to your child and ask her to guess what is inside without opening it.

Step 3: Ask prompting questions. For example, as your child starts to feel the bag, you might ask, “What sense are you using now to figure out what is in the bag? What body part are you using? How would you describe what you are feeling? Is the object soft or hard? What shape is it? Is it smooth or rough?”

Step 4: Encourage her to use other senses as she explores. For example, “Have you used your sense of smell yet? See if you can discover what it is through your sense of smell.” “Does the object make a noise? Can you use your sense of hearing to figure it out?”

Step 5: After your child has made a couple of guesses, tell her to open the bag to see if she was correct.

Step 6: Continue with other bags.

Provide visual supports. Provide a drawing or photo of each of the items in the bags. Place the drawings or photos on the table or floor in front of your child. Hand her one of the bags and ask her to use her senses to guess which of the pictured items is inside the bag.

Ask your child to find several items from around your house to place inside the paper lunch bags. Then you can try to guess what is inside. Be sure that you verbalize what you are thinking as you make your guesses.

For example, “It feels really light. When I squeeze the bag it feels soft. I can’t smell anything. It does not seem to have a scent. When I shake it, I don’t hear anything. I’m ready to make a guess. Is it a bag of cotton balls?”