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What’s in the Box

group of children

About this video

The children in this clip attend a mixed-age early childhood center sponsored by a public university. Their teacher, Lisa Lee, began a project on balls with the children in the early fall. Many young children are not accustomed to forming questions, so Lisa has developed a guessing game in which children use questions to help them guess what is in the box. In this clip the children guess what type of ball is in the box. Notice how attentive the children are as they play this game. Circle time begins quickly without a lot of time spent organizing the children in rows or having them sit on spots.



The children organize themselves.

Lisa Lee: All right. Remember you have to ask me questions that I can answer either yes or no to. Do you want to hear it first? Here’s what it sounds like (shakes the box).

Zoe (4.2 years old): Is it a train?

Lisa Lee: No, it’s not a train. Clare?

Clare (4.11 years old): Does it have blue fur?

Lisa Lee: No, it doesn’t have blue fur (shakes box). (Responds to raised hand.) Teyshaun?

Teyshaun (5.1 years old): Is it a ball?

Lisa Lee: (Shaking the box.) Yes, it’s a ball.

Alex (4.7 years old): It’s a ball?

Lisa Lee: Yes, but now you’ve got to find out what kind.

Teyshaun: Is it a ball with, with….with holes?

Another adult: Ask questions about what the ball might look like.

Lisa Lee: A ball with holes? No. … It’s not a ball with holes, so it’s not a whiffle ball. Hassan, did you have a question? (She waits for response.) Because now you know it’s a ball, but now you’ve got to find out what kind of ball it is.

Clare: (Raising hand.) Is it a ball from the marble maze?

Lisa Lee: No. Guys listen, does it sound hard?

Joseph (4.4 years old): Is it a tiny bouncing ball?

Lisa Lee: (Periodically shaking the box.) It is a bouncing ball, and it’s smaller than it normally is. (Responding to Vivian’s raised hand.) Vivian?

Vivian: Does it have… is it purple… is it black?

Lisa Lee: Parts of it are black. Not all of it, though. (Responding to Alex’s raised hand.) Alex?

Joseph: Is it a triangle ball?

Lisa Lee: (To Alex.) What? What’s your question?

Alex: Ummmmm…. Is it a ball?

Lisa Lee: It is a ball. Remember, I’m asking you now what kind it is.

Joseph: Is it like a baseball?

Lisa Lee: No, it’s not a baseball.

Adult: Did anybody ask about what color it is?

Lisa Lee: I said it has black on it, but it’s not all black. Alex, do you have another question?

Alex: Is it a football?

Lisa Lee: Football? No, not a football. (Responding to Vivian’s raised hand.) Vivian?

Alex: Is it a bouncy ball?

Lisa Lee: Raise your hand, Alex, and ask me.

Vivian: Is it a basketball?

Lisa Lee: It is a basketball! You’re right, it’s a ball! Normally it’s bigger than this, isn’t it. And look…

Alex: I see basketball, I see basketball.

Lisa Lee: You can see it after I’m done with it; when we take it outside I can leave it out. It has black on it. It has little black stripes on it, and it does bounce. This week we’re talking all about balls and sports.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.A.ECa: Follow simple one-, two- and three-step directions.
The children asked questions in response to the teacher’s directions.
Language Arts
1.D.ECc: Understand and use question words in speaking.
Children used questioning to guess what was in the box. Children listened to sounds of the ball shaking in box and hints provided by the teacher.
Language Arts
: With teacher assistance, use adjectives to describe people, places, and things.
Children used a variety of words to describe what they thought the ball was like, such as “bouncy,” “with holes,” “tiny,” and “black.”
11.A.ECa: Express wonder and curiosity about their world by asking questions, solving problems, and designing things.
Children expressed interest and curiosity by asking questions about what was in the box.
Social/emotional Development
30.A.ECd: Begin to understand and follow rules.
Teyshaun, Clare, Vivian, and Alex raised their hands when they wanted to contribute to the discussion (with some reminders from the teacher).
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECb: Demonstrate persistence and creativity in seeking solutions to problems.
Children continued to come up with new guesses until the mystery was solved.
Social/emotional Development
31.B.ECc: Use socially appropriate behavior with peers and adults, such as helping, sharing, and taking turns.
Many of the children raised their hands to get a turn to guess. Most of the children did not interrupt when their classmates were talking.

Note: This video clip was made possible by STARnet Regions I & III with funding from the Illinois State Board of Education.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017