Using a ‘Feely Bag’ for oral language in the classroom

A multi-sensory feely bag activity is perfect for the development of oral language skills and vocabulary. Your Feely Bag can be any container that will hold an object unseen, to enable discussion to arise in order to solve the mystery, thus turning something simple into a deductive-reasoning activity. Nice examples are silk (or not silk!) pillow cases, decorative cushion covers or any cloth bag or even a large shoe box which the pupils will enjoy decorating.

Using the feely bag the teacher places an object (familiar household or school object) and selects a pupil to feel the object in the bag and describe the feel, shape, size, texture etc. The pupil uses oral language to guess what they are touching. If pupils know what the object is they can use mime to convey what the object is to fellow pupils.

Pupils can take it turns to feel the unknown object in the bag and use as many descriptive words as possible to describe it. Present pupils with challenging objects/ ideas. I find objects like a ‘boil in the bag rice’ can be an interesting one that takes pupils a while to figure out!

You can write their words down in rows like a poem-small, soft, round, squishy etc.

On taking the object out of the bag different pupils can be selected to name all functions and actions that can be carried out with the object. They can describe uses, where found etc. 

A variation of the above games is the negative descriptor. E.g. This cannot be a … because

See post on the uses of a flip chart in the classroom. I find a flip chart very useful in this activity to be used as a prompt to help pupils when they are describing an object.

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Other ideas

  1. I know one teacher who uses her feely bag in her junior classrooms as a chance to revise nursery rhymes and songs they have learned. She fills her feely bag with objects to represent the rhymes. For example a toy lamb for Mary Had a Little Lamb, a toy mouse for Hey Dickory Dickory Dock and so on.

2. You could fill your feely bag with different toys and create stories based on the toys your pupils pull from the bag. For example, if the first toy pulled out by pupil A is a tree, the story might begin…’It was dark and cold in the forest.’ The next toy pulled out might be a watch, and so the story continues…’It was dark and cold in the forest. Tom, a local huntsman, knew it was time for him to go home…’

3. Add an object to the bag that makes a sound. Turn the activity into a listening exercise. What could the object be? What object makes that sound? Discuss different options.

4. Link to maths and place 5 objects inside of varying sizes (or more for older pupils). Maybe place the bag at your ‘Challenge Table’ as an activity that the pupils could do this week…to sort the object by size only using touch, and remove them from the bag in the correct order of size…smallest to largest or largest to smallest.

5. A Mile a Minute: Use the prompt chart and talk about the object, giving as much detail as possible in a minute. Adapt the time to suit each pupil.

The beautiful thing about the feely bag is it can be used again and again, an oral language activity to suit all ages.

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Remember, any form of bag, even a large handbag, can serve as your feely bag!

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