What's in the Bag? A Classification Game

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Updated on Feb 22, 2013

The cat’s out of the bag! Or is it the book? Or the shoe? You'll have to play this guessing game to find out!

One of the key things kids learn in preschool is how to categorize and sort a set of objects—figuring out what makes them the same and what makes them different. Comparing things to one another is one of the baby steps towards critical thinking and problem solving.

There are lots of things you can do at home that will help foster these same analyzing skills. But one of the most fun requires nothing more than a set of objects from around your house, and a simple pillowcase or brown paper grocery bag.

What You Need:

  • A paper bag
  • An assortment of familiar household items: silverware, keys, pens, etc.

What You Do:

  1. Secretly place an everyday item in a paper bag and then give different clues to your child, who will then try to guess the item. Too often we don’t give kids enough thinking time when we ask them for an answer. So be sure to allow them a minute or two between each clue for reflection.
  2. Let’s say you choose to hide your favorite cooking spoon. You might say “It is made out of wood……. I keep it in the kitchen…… I use it to stir the lemonade…….Do you have a guess?” If your child gives an incorrect answer, then repeat the clues, leaving time for thinking between each statement, and then add more clues until the correct answer has been reached.
  3. Once your child has guessed correctly, give him the bag and let him look inside. He’ll get a big kick out of seeing the object in person.

At first, kids may have trouble guessing what’s in the bag. Start them off with a set of very common objects and later, begin adding more unique items. You can do this activity indoors or out. What will seem to your child like nothing more than a fun game is actually a lot more. Because in between all that play, your kid is building problem solving skills that will serve her well in kindergarten…and beyond.

Samantha Harpring was a classroom teacher for 16 years and has spent the last several years writing curriculum. She is the mother of two energetic boys, ages 7 and 10.

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