How to Use A Mystery Bag in Sunday School

“Can you guess what’s in my super amazing fantastically cool green bag of amazingness!?” I’ve used this question to capture the attention of thousands of kids at churches, backyards, schools, community centers, and even a pig farm. (Some of my fondest memories of teaching kids happened on a pig farm.)

At pig farms or after school Good News Clubs, when teaching kids, I usually have a cloth bag with a mystery object tucked inside. Before I start teaching I let them guess what’s in the bag, but they have to wait to find out if they’re right. It’s a great way to get their attention, but it also helps them learn because the mystery object relates to my lesson. You can try this the next time you teach! Here are some things I’ve put in my mystery bag.

The Mystery Bag

Gather some leaves, rocks, and twigs from your yard to put in the bag if you’re teaching about Creation or the Garden of Eden. You can even let the kids take turns pulling the objects out of the bag as you teach!
Put blocks in the bag if you’re teaching about Jericho, Nehemiah, or Israel’s enslavement in Egypt. (Trust me. You’ll be glad you didn’t put real bricks in the bag.)
Put toy animals in the bag if you’re teaching about creation, Noah, or Cornelius. (Or you could even use cotton balls as sheep if you’re teaching from Psalm 23 or the story of the Good Shepherd.)
A broken clock or watch is fun for kids to handle and can be put in the bag to teach about Abraham trusting God’s promise for a loooooooong time or perhaps about God’s willingness to hear our prayers anytime and anywhere.
Put an ultrasound picture or a baby doll in the bag if you’re teaching about God’s promise of a baby boy to Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth or Mary. (With three young daughters I even have enough baby dolls in my house to keep up with the story of Rachel and Leah!)
Put characters from a nativity set in the bag if you’re teaching about Christ’s birth. (Or you can repurpose nativity figures as other Bible characters. This talented magi figurine has been known to play King Saul in a pinch.)

Put a snack that relates to your lesson in the bag such as fruit snacks for the Garden of Eden, fish crackers for Jonah, or bread for the feeding of the 5,000.

Find a book that has pictures that relate to your lesson and put it in the mystery bag. (This is especially popular with my pre-k Sunday School class—they love it!) I also have a mini super amazing fantastically cool green bag of amazingness for smaller mystery objects.

Put coins in the bag if you’re teaching about Zacchaeus, the betrayal of Christ, the parable of the widow’s lost coin, the widow’s mite, the calling of Matthew, or Joseph being sold by his brothers.

Put some large nails in the bag if you’re teaching about Christ’s death, the building of the temple, or the parable of the wise and foolish man. (You could even put toeNAIL clippings in the bag if you’re teaching about Daniel 4:33….JUST KIDDING!)

Hopefully you get the idea. You can put all kinds of stuff in a mystery bag to create suspense and pique interest your lesson. I usually make them wait until the middle of the lesson before unveiling the mystery object or I use it to help introduce the beginning of the lesson. (Personally, I think it’s more fun to make them endure the suspense at least partway through the lesson.)

The options are limitless! Colorful cloth for Joseph, bandages for the thankful leper, lentils for Jacob and Esau, etc. If you’re having trouble thinking of something that relates to your lesson, simply put your Bible in the mystery bag—it’s that easy! I’ve given you ideas to go along with over 30 Bible lessons. Can you take a minute right now to think about what you could put in a mystery bag the next time you teach God’s truth to kids? Please leave a comment with suggestions for other items you’ve used to enhance interest in a specific Bible lesson.

Check out my article “Crazy Sock Games for Kids” for another idea that will help you focus and maintain the kids’ attention while you teach.

Nathan Hamilton
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