Super Supplemental: Mystery Box

15 Dec

This week, I’d like to share one of my favorite supplemental aids to use in sessions: my mystery box! It cost less than $4 to make and is something I have been able to re-purpose for many different populations and uses.


  • Scrapbook or Memory Box: $2 at AC Moore (Or a shoebox…which is also free!)
  • Stickers: $1.50 (I like using raised or foam stickers because they can provide an additional sensory experience for clients.)

Slap some stickers on your box and then you’re ready to go. Bonus points for making it look mysterious!

4 ways I’ve used my mystery box:

1. “Pass the Box” game.

Many of my clients benefit from practicing important skills like waiting, taking turns and following directions before Christmas arrives! This is a good way to prepare clients for what they might experience on Christmas morning (waiting while siblings open gifts, following directions from Mom and Dad, opening up a box with something unknown inside, etc). I have a simple “Pass the Box” song that I sing while I have clients pass it around the circle. They are only allowed to open the box and take something out when the music stops and they are the one holding it! I usually put different instruments (if they’re small enough) or instrument icons inside. Once everyone has an instrument, we have a jam session together!

Here’s a FREE DOWNLOAD (!!) of some of my instrument icons.

2.  Transitions.

The mystery box can be a great way to help clients transition from one activity to the next. This works especially well for clients with ASD who already use picture or object schedules for transitions throughout the school day! You can put an item in the box that represents the next activity (picture, instrument, scarf, etc) and have the client open it before the activity starts. You could also work on increasing client flexibility by putting one item for each activity in the box. Have clients reach in and select one item to determine what the next activity will be.

3.  Songwriting.

Put items such as stuffed animals, pictures, or key words/phrases inside the box. Use these items to create a short story or poem as a group, then orchestrate the story with sound effects or musical accompaniment. You could also have clients each write a word or phrase centered around a topic or question (i.e., What would you like to say to _____? How do you feel when _____?) and put their thoughts inside the mystery box anonymously.  Use these phrases to write an original song together.

4. Song title guessing game.

Find items to represent songs that you’ve done together as a group or pop songs on the radio (awesome for adolescents!). Have clients select items from the box and work together to try to guess the song title. Once the song title is guessed, sing or play it together. I especially like using this activity for older adults with dementia, because it can be a great opportunity for reminiscence. Select concrete visuals to put inside (i.e. Plastic yellow rose for “Yellow Rose of Texas”) and pair with extra clues (“There’s a state in the title!”) or write lines for each word in the song title on a large pad of paper (_____   _____   ____   _____). I’ve also found that this is a great termination activity and can spark a nice discussion about what your clients liked (or didn’t like!) about each activity.

Do you have a favorite supplemental that you find yourself using again and again? I’d love to hear about it!

For updates about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success, enter your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right or follow my twitter: @songsforsuccess. 

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