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       Building Blocks to Reading

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"What's Inside?"

The directions you find here are simply suggestions. Please feel free to get creative and be sure to have fun with this project.

Mystery Gift is a project that can help to develop reasoning and early science skills. This project can be modified for ages 3 years to adult.

For this project you will need two boxes; one for a gift box the other for an experiment box. You will also need a small gift, gift wrap, tape, blank pages, and a pencil.


The Gift Box

The parent or provider must complete this step alone. The idea is to exercise reasoning skills by letting the child shake, rattle, squeeze, and roll this package in an attempt to figure out what is inside.

For a gift I recommend a small car, doll bottle, crayon, marble, or other common age appropriate toy. Remove the toy from it's packaging and place it in a gift box. The gift box should be too large for the gift. You want the gift to rattle around in the box. The box and gift must be durable. If a toy like crayons or marbles has been chosen, select only one or two of the crayons or marbles to be placed in the box. Wrap the box and be sure to tape the gift wrap well. By nature of this project peeking is a constant temptation. Save some wrapping paper for your book cover.


Make Your Book

With the child's help, print or copy 10 to 15 Blank Pages. Stack them neatly and staple them together.

For the cover you will need a piece of construction paper that measures about 9 inches by 6 inches or wrapping paper that is twice that size. If you use wrapping paper fold the paper in half and use double thickness of paper to increase it's strength. Fold the sheet in half, choose a title for your book , write the title on the front cover, and decorate. Do not forget to put the author's name on the front cover. Your child will work hard and deserves to have his name on the front of his book. Staple the cover in place.

Attach the book to the gift.


What Is Inside?

The object is for the child (this is fun for adults too) to figure out what is in the package without damaging, opening, or other wise mangling the package. The book is to keep notes of observations, ideas, and hypothesis or guesses about the package.

Let your child shake the package. How does it sound? Does it sound like it is dragging or rolling? Does is sound the same if you shake it hard and soft? What does it sound like if we gently tilt the package. Does it sound the same when it is upside down?

Use the book as a journal and describe the what they have learned about the package and what they think might be inside. Take dictation, write in the book what your child says about the package. Let your child draw pictures of himself with the package. Let them write in the book what they think is in the package.


The Experiment Box

The second box should be the same size as the first box. This box can be used to experiment. Select different objects from around the house. Put one in the box and give the box a shake. What does it sound like? Does it sound like the first box? Do you think the object in the gift box is like the object in the experiment box?

Before the package is opened, let each child make a final guess as to what is in their gift box. Then in turn open the packages and see what kind of a prize you find.


Merry Christmas!!!

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Copyright 1996 Karen M. Potter. Permission is granted to print "What Is Inside" and "Pages for Your Book" for instructional use by parents and teachers. Copyright information must remain intact. These pages are not for resale!

Please email any comments or suggestions.

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