Sorting Found Objects Mystery Box

Part of the "Garden Safari" Collection


Students will investigate unseen objects in mystery boxes using the senses of touch, smell, and hearing.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • SKP1b. Use senses and science tools to classify common objects according to their physical attributes (color, size, shape, weight, and texture).


  • Mystery boxes (made from empty tissue boxes or shoe boxes)
  • Variety of found objects from the outdoor classroom


  1. Before the lesson begins, fill each mystery box with a found object.
  2. In a whole group, model how students can use their sense of touch to determine physical attributes about an object. Reach into a mystery box and think aloud for students to observe:
    1. What is the object’s size (relative to their hand)?
    2. Are there any recognizable shapes?
    3. What is the object’s weight (light or heavy)?
    4. What is the object’s texture? How does it feel?
  3. Allow students to guess the mystery object based only on your descriptions before revealing.
  4. Spread the mystery boxes throughout the outdoor classroom and instruct students to visit each mystery box in pairs. At each mystery box, one student touches and describes the object while the other guesses. At the next mystery box, students switch roles. Students should recognize that their partner’s success in guessing depends on their ability to describe an object’s physical attributes accurately using only their sense of touch.
  5. When students have had the opportunity to visit multiple mystery pairs, display all of the mystery objects for the whole group to see. Challenge students to determine how these objects could be sorted. What do some of the objects have in common? How are some of them different?Some examples of sorting found objects can be seen below:
  • Color:
    Brown – Wood, Bark, Paper, Pine cone, Nut, Clay ball
    – Leaf
    Gray – Rock, Metal trowel
    Colorful – Flower, Fruit, Cloth garden glove, Plastic watering can


  • Size:
    Size of Fingernail
    – Nut
    Size of Finger
    – Bark, Flower, Fruit, Rock
    Size of Hand
    – Pine cone, Leaf, Bark, Clay ball, Cloth garden glove
    – Paper, Metal trowel, Plastic watering can