Surprise Box

By Activity Bank on Nov 26, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

In this activity, students will work to identify objects expressively. Lessons include English Language Arts and Independent Living Skills.


  • Familiar objects of various sizes and textures which the student encounters in everyday life – shoe, cup, bowl, spoon, mitten, towel, key, soap, plate, hat, comb, toothbrush, sponge
  • A box or a can in which to hide the objects; the objects may be covered with textures to make them tactually appealing.


  • Place one item at a time inside the surprise box.
  • Ask the student to guess what is inside the box.
  • Have the student look into the box and identify the object visually, or reach into the box and identify it tactually. Provide cues as needed, using phonemic cues (providing the initial letter: “It’s a b____”) as well as clues about the function of the object: “This is something that you drink with.”
  • Reinforce by repeating the object name: “Yes, it’s a _____.”


  • Have the student demonstrate the function of the object and describe it by telling what the item is made of, its size and where it is found.
  • Simplify this activity by placing an object in the student’s hand or on a tray in front of her.
  • This can be done as a group activity where students take turns guessing and hiding the object for the next person.
  • Continue to add new objects as the student learns to name the old ones.

Hint: Label objects that the student encounters throughout the day. Discuss the way different objects feel, their functions, and their special characteristics.