Inspiring young authors: Secret Surprise Eggs!

Riddle writing is always a popular activity in my class from year to year. I first introduce riddles to my students through a “secret in a bag” show and tell project (I try and provide different ideas for “sharing/show and tell” throughout the year, and “secret in a bag” is one of them). Each day, one student takes home our “secret in a bag” bag, selects a special object from their home to put inside, and writes three clues about it to share with the class. The next day, the student brings the bag to school, reads their clues, and our class tries to guess what the secret item is. My students LOVE this learning opportunity.


Since “secret in a bag” is so popular, I thought the children would be interested in another opportunity to write riddles. Last week at the playdough table, one of my students, B.B., kept making eggs with his playdough and burying objects inside. He would bring his “egg” to me and gleefully laugh as I broke it open to reveal his “surprise.” On one occasion, I asked him to give me a clue about what I might find inside and that’s when I had my “aha” moment about what our next riddle-writing provocation would be!

On the weekend, I picked up some large plastic eggs from the craft store. I wanted the jumbo sized eggs so that the children would be able to choose different sized items from the class (my eggs could easily hold an object as large as a marker or pair of scissors). I could only find jumbo eggs that were clear on one side, so I painted them with acrylic paint to make them opaque and keep the secret items hidden from view. I purchased 5 eggs, each with a different colour so that we would be able to know which egg belonged to which student.


When I introduced the centre to the children, I called it “secret in an egg” so that they would immediately know exactly what they were supposed to do (“I know! It’s just like secret in a bag!”). I also credited B.B.’s playdough egg surprises as the “inspiration” for this new idea. We often talk of being inspired by each other’s learning or creations in our class, and it always makes the children so proud to know their “good thinking” is helping their classmates.


I created a recording sheet for the children to write their clues on with the title “What’s in my egg?” and an egg outline for them to draw their answer in. I stapled the clue sheet on top of the egg drawing so that after we emptied the plastic egg, we could still put up the riddles with the answer sheet underneath. You can download a copy of the recording sheet here: Secret Surprise Egg

E.L.: “It is pink. It comes from a bird. You can find it in a nest.” Answer: an egg!

We share our secret surprise eggs every day during reflection time (in the morning and again in the afternoon). I hope you’ll give it a try! It’s been a wonderful motivator for even my most reluctant writers/speakers.

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Inspiring Young Authors: Riddles!

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Last week at the writing centre we created a riddle-writing provocation for the children. The idea came from our last “show and tell” idea which was “Secret in a Bag.” Each night, one student took home our “secret in a bag” bag and chose an item to put inside. Then, they thought about three clues that would describe their object. The next day, they returned the bag to school, shared their clues (most students wrote them down on paper and read them aloud) and we all had a go at trying to guess what the object was. When we guessed (or didn’t, as was sometimes the case for some tricky items!) the student was able to talk about what they had brought and we asked questions about it. The children absolutely LOVED “Secret in a Bag” and looked forward to figuring out each others’ riddles each day.

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Because of the success of “Secret in a Bag,” we decided to encourage the children’s interest in clue-writing by creating an opportunity for them to write riddles at the writing centre. Along with a question (the back of which contained some sentence starters such as “I am…” “I can…” “I have…” and “I like…”) we placed folded card stock and markers at the table. The children were encouraged to write their clues on the top flap and draw a picture of the answer to their riddle inside the fold. This centre was a huge success! We are in our second week of riddle writing now and the children aren’t slowing down! We’ve posted some of the riddles on our classroom door for passers-by to enjoy and the children also excitedly take their riddles home to try and stump their families!

Here are some samples of my students’ riddles. Please note that we don’t spell anything for the children; they are encouraged to use words from our word wall, sound things out, or ask a friend for help:

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“I am yellow. I have black polka dots. What am I?”

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A giraffe!”

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“I am wooly and I live at the farm and I run on the grass. Who am I?”

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I am a sheep!”

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I have big teeth. I have big feet. Who am I?”

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A dinosaur!”

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