Everyone likes a mystery! Well, in music class we sure do! One of my favorite centers to do with grades 2-6 is Mystery Instruments. In this activity students use what they know about classroom instruments to identify the mystery instrument in a paper bag.
For this activity I usually choose something like a maraca, triangle, recorder or woodblock. These fit easily in a small, brown, paper lunch bag. It would be fun to put in a trumpet, flute or bongos using a paper grocery bag. My third graders would love doing that during their instrument unit!
Here’s how it works:
1. Prep the workstation by putting in the instrument and stapling the bag closed.
2. Copy the worksheets so that each student has their own. The worksheets ask students simple questions about what’s in the bag, have them guess what it is not, ask them to sketch it and finally to name it.
3. When introducing this station I explain that they may shake the bag, but only once because they don’t want to let any of the other students hear too many clues before they get a turn at the station.
4. I also explain that it is okay to touch the bag and feel the instrument, but they can’t crumple the bag around the instrument. That might give away the shape of the instrument too quickly.
5. Students, armed with a clipboard, worksheet and pencil work in groups to examine the mystery instrument and complete their detective sheets.
6. At the end of class I ask them what is in the bag and them open the bag and show them.
I love this activity because it gets students talking descriptively about instruments. “This one is made from metal.” “This one feels light.” “This one is very noisy.” “This one has many parts.”
I have a few different worksheets that I use regularly. They are slightly different depending on the grade level that is doing the detective work. You can download the set HERE.