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Mystery Bag


Students teach others about words, visuals, text excerpts, or assessment items and make connections between these concepts.


  • 1 bag of items for each group
  • If student groups are creating the mystery bags, provide prompts, index cards, and an empty bag for each group.


  1. Organize students into groups of 3-4.
  2. Present each group with a Mystery Bag of questions, assessment items, manipulatives, visuals, text excerpts, or words.
  3. Each student draws an item out of the bag and explains its importance to the group.
  4. Group members discuss, add ideas, or clarify confusing parts for each item.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until all items in the bag have been discussed.
  6. Groups draw a conclusion about how all the items are connected.
  7. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

Classroom Management

  • Time Saver: Assign each group a different concept and ask them to create a Mystery Bag with words, visuals, examples, and test items. Have groups trade bags and complete the strategy.


  • Promote access to content by providing written or auditory summaries of each concept or allowing the use of teacher/student notes.
  • Promote access by providing vocabulary cards, allowing peer read-alouds, and/or using text-to-speech support.
  • Promote response support by encouraging verbal, written, or sketched explanations; explaining with a supportive peer; and/or using speech-to-text or word prediction support.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Draw a conclusion about how all the items in the bag connect.
    • Classify/categorize the items in the bag in some way.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.