Listening & Language Games: What's in the Bag?

What's in the Bag? is a simple & entertaining guessing game that I frequently utilize in my preschool classroom... It's great because the possibilities for play are endless! The game can be easily modified to meet the individual needs of all of my students with very little effort on my part & it targets a wide variety of developmental & early learning skills including: vocabulary development, listening skills, speaking skills, social-communication, turn-taking, self-control and tactile perception.

What you'll need: 
A bag that you cannot see through
Collection of 5-10 small objects that fit inside the bag

There are many different ways to play, but he most basic instructions are as follows:
  1. Put the items in the bag - all, a few or only one at a time - you decide! 
  2. Take turns reaching into the bag - don't peek! Try to identify an object by feeling it before removing it from the bag. 
  3. The player to guess the most items correctly before removing it from the bag wins! 
Now here's where it gets fun... the possibilities are endless...

Practice Listening - Use objects that have sounds associated with them - we frequently use items from a collection of listening toys including objects like: cow/moo, butterfly/uffuff, baby in cradle/shhhh, ice cream cone/mmmm, airplane/ahhhh, ghost/oooooo, bee/eeeee, snake/ssssss, boat/buhbuh etc. Once the kids have a few minutes to explore the toys & practice the sounds, we put all of the items in the bag. The bag keeper will name an object OR make the sound associated with the object. The students must listen, then try to pull the correct item from the bag without looking. Once all the items have been removed, the items are cleaned up in the order the bag keeper dictates - so the students must continue listening in order to figure out which items have been requested by the bag keeper.

Practice Asking Questions & Giving Clues - Have a player choose an object to put inside of the bag. When we play this version at school, I have my students choose from a limited selection of items, so that the possibilities are a closed-set (i.e. only a limited number of possible answers). The bag keeper either gives clues OR answers questions posed by the other players. I usually have the bag keeper give 3 clues OR each player may ask 3 questions before guessing. If no one guesses correctly, we reveal the item & give another child a turn to be the bag keeper.

As the teacher, I'm often the 'bag keeper' when we play any version of this game, which allows me to modify game play based on each child's individual strengths & needs from turn to turn. I really love this game, as there are few small-group games that allow for listening skill practice along the entire hierarchy (detection, discrimination, identification & comprehension) in addition to expressive language skills practice.  


  1. Love this idea! I will definitely have to try it with my kiddos!
    Fun in ECSE

    1. I'd love to hear how it goes with your students! and what variations you come up with!