Activity Industry Sector
Agriculture & Natural Resources

Activity Originally Created By: Amanda Samons

The mystery bag

Part of Lesson Plan: "Family Connection" Animal Kingdom Taxonomy

Activity Overview / Details

Prior to the lesson, create "mystery bags" (brown paper lunch sacks are perfect for this activity) for the students.  Students will need one bag per group of three students.  In this mystery bag place 10 items.  Some of the items may be similar, and some will be different.  Ideas for items may be 10 pencils and pens of different kinds.  A kit may include a pencil without an eraser, a standard yellow pencil, a short pencil, a long pencil, sharpened pencils, mechanical pencils, standard ink pens, click pens, gel ink pens, felt tip pens etc.  Items should be similar, but not many should be the same.


At the beginning of class ask students to line up in order of their birthday.  Once they have lined up, separate them into groups of three.  Each group will be given a "Mystery Bag".  Give the following set of instructions:

You are all expert problem solvers.  In your bag you each have 10 items, that you will group into 5 group groups in some orderly way.  You may determine how they are to be separated , but pay close attention to the groups characteristics, and group similar items together.  Remember 5 groups with as many or as few as you please in each group.  You have to 2 minutes to complete this activity.

After two minutes, have the groups explain why/how they grouped their items.  The students will begin to unveil the idea of grouping items by similar characteristics.

Explain to students that what they just did is similar to what a Linnaeus did with animals millions of years ago.  He compared what was similar and different with each of them and created a way to classify them.