Prep: None / Activity Time: 15-20 Minutes

Create a “Mystery Box” to explore oral language skills, develop vocabulary and just have fun! Use everyday household items and see what your child knows and how creative he can be. This activity is easy to assemble and is bound to give you some laughs while developing oral language skills at the same time.

  • a cardboard box (*TIP: save boxes from postal deliveries – they come in handy for many activities)
  • scissors (adult use only)
  • tape
  • everyday household Items that can be sorted into different categories. For example you might choose:
    • hairstyling tools (comb, brush, hair elastic, barrette or headband)
    • kitchen utensils (wooden spoon, plastic bowl, teaspoon or tablespoon)
    • things that are soft (an apron, dishtowel, tissue, sock)
    • pet toys (dog brush, tennis ball, squeaky toy)
    • makeup tools (makeup brush, small mirror, cotton ball)

Be creative and choose any safe and interesting item you have available.

Step 1:  Prepare the mystery box. Gather several items from three different categories and put them into the box. Tape the top of the box closed. Cut a small circle into the top or the side of the box, so the objects can easily be pulled out.    

Step 2:  Reach into the “mystery” box and pull out an item. Describe the item by saying its name, the color, and how it is used. You might say: I’m going to pull something out of the mystery box. I pulled out this green dishtowel. I use the dishtowel to dry off the dishes. 

Step 3: Demonstrate how to use the item and explain why you are using it. I’m drying off my dishes so I can put them away in the cabinet. I’m drying dishes with the dishtowel. Ask your child to think of another way that the item can be used and remember it is okay to come up with silly ideas! For example, you might say, How about using the dishtowel to dry off after a bath, would that work?  Once you are finished with the item, place it to the side and let your child have a turn.

Step 4:  When it is your child’s turn, guide him through the steps of picking something, naming it, saying something about it and pretending to use it.  

Step 5: When all of the items are out of the mystery box, help your child sort the items into categories and talk about the reasons why they are grouped together. For example, you might say: These are all kitchen items and these are all used for your hair.

Step 6:   After all of the items are sorted, make cleaning up part of the game! Challenge your child to see which one of you can return the items to their rightful places the quickest.  

To make it easier, reduce the number of choices.  Gather several items that fall into just two categories, such as hairstyling tools and kitchen utensils. 


Ask challenging questions.  You might ask your child how an item he selected is similar to and different than another object. For example, How are a dishtowel and a bath towel similar and how they are different?