Little Ones Learning - Apple Guess Box and Books

Monday, September 16, 2013

This week the little ones and I are going to be exploring apples!  This is a great time of year for it, as it's the season for apple picking and apple-scented everything.

Get Apples!

With this unit, it is important to have real apples on hand.  This is a great time of year to get a variety of apples at the grocery store, farm stand, or orchards.  It is important for children to have a hands-on experience to really learn about them.  If possible, you want to try to have a variety of the different kinds, as well.  But when you pick up your apples, keep it secret because you can start off with a guess box!

Starting Off With a Guess Box

A great way to start off a unit of study is with a guess box.  I learned about this strategy as a teacher, and it is one of my favorites!  A guess box works best for kids 3 and up.  As you'll see in the explanation, younger kids will need more guidance and clues in order to be successful.  The purpose of a guess box is to promote deductive reasoning in kids.  Don't tell the kid(s) what is in the guess box!  They are going to be asking questions and using clues to figure it out.


  1. Put the apple (or whatever object you might use) in the guess box or bag.  It is important that you cannot see the object.  
That's it!  Now you're ready!

Here is a link to a short video explaining the Guess Box strategy:  Explanation of Guess Box Strategy It is definitely worth the 2 minutes and 25 seconds!

Guess Box Steps for an apple:

1.  Show the child the guess box and explain that there is something inside, and it is his/her job to figure out what it is!

2.  Tell him/her that the rules are:

  1. You can only ask yes or no questions.
  2. If you think you know what it is tap on your brain to let me know.  Don't guess out loud.  (This is mainly important if there is more than one child.  Not a big deal if only 1)
3.  Give a clue, like:  "It is something you can eat."

4.  Guide your child in asking questions.  You can prompt them with a sentence starters, like: "Does it have...." or "Is it..." to help them get started.   

5.  For younger children, this is a challenge, so provide them with ideas of questions to ask.  Maybe about how it tastes, what it looks like, and where it comes from.  For example,  "Is it red?" "Is it a fruit?"  "Does it have leaves?"

6.  If you want, you can record the "yes" clues on a white board or paper.  Even if your child cannot read, this builds early literacy skills.

7.  If he/she gets stuck, review the "yes" responses you've written so far and give another clue.  For example, "it grows on trees" or "some of them are red"

7.  If your child is able to hold off on guessing (which is so hard and no typically the case!), and shows that he/she thinks they know what it is, see if they can ask any more questions about it.  This will give you a good idea of what he/she already knows about apples.  

8.  When you think they have shared all they know say, "On the count of 3 whisper to me what you think is in the guess box." Then count to 3 and see if he/she is right.  If not, guide him/her to figure out that it is an apple.  

8.  After figuring it out, ask the child to figure out the 3 best clues.  I like to say, "When Daddy comes home we are going to give him 3 clues about what was in the guess box and we want him to be able to figure it out.  What 3 should we tell him?" 

The best clues for an apple might be something like this:
   1.  It is red.
   2.  It is a fruit.
   3.  It is used to make pies and juice.

Hopefully your child had fun with this activity, and now you have an idea of what your child knows!  I love guess boxes because you can use them with pretty much any topic!

Books About Apples:

I still have to take a journey to the library for some apple books, but here are some picture books to look for about apples:

Books about apples for kids!
Books About Apples for Kids via No Time for Flash Cards

I'll be sharing some more ideas about apples, so check back tomorrow!

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