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Character in a Bag



  • Language Arts
  • Ed Technology


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Partners use clues from a bag to cooperatively develop a mystery character and produce a PowerPoint about that character.


  • understand/identify the concepts of character and character traits.
  • create a "mystery character."
  • work cooperatively with a partner.
  • use productivity tools to develop and present a technology-rich, authentic, student-centered product.


traits, protagonist, antagonist, character

Materials Needed

  • brown paper bags
  • various items such as cosmetics, newspapers, magazine articles, airline or movie ticket stubs, photographs of people or places, a music CD, grooming materials, keys (more examples in The Lesson)
  • presentation software (for example, PowerPoint)
  • floppy disks that include a presentation template on them (optional)
  • computer work stations

The Lesson

Lesson Prerequisites
Prior to this lesson, students should

  • be able to identify characters in a story.
  • have a basic knowledge of producing presentations using a software program such as PowerPoint.
  • have skills needed to work cooperatively with a peer.

Advance Preparation
Prepare in advance paper bags -- one bag for each pair of students -- that contain a variety of items that belong to a "mystery character." The bag might include a wide variety of everyday and unique items. Some items in the bag might include cosmetics, newspapers, magazine articles, airline or movie ticket stubs, photographs of people or places, a music CD, grooming materials, keys, a candy wrapper, a crayon, a slip of paper with a first name and phone number written on it, a recipe, an empty soda can, a parking ticket, a check made out to them, a rubber band, a keychain with no keys on it, a receipt from a grocery store or a fast-food restaurant (If you are stuck for a long list of items, you might even brainstorm in advance with students a list of nouns/things that might be found in students' pockets/purses or in a "junk drawer" at home. No need to tell them why they're brainstorming these items; just tell them they will know within a few days; they'll find out when this activity is done.)

Students should be assigned a partner with whom they will create a "mystery character." Provide each pair of students with a brown bag containing items that belong to that character. Invite students to search through the contents of the bag and to make a list of the items they found.

Once students have had a chance to delve through the bag's contents, challenge them to discuss with their partner who the character could be. How might each item in the bag play into that person's life? Is the character a male or female? What are the character's interests? What type of food does he or she like? Where does the character live? What does s/he do for work? What's going on in the person's life right now? What kind of personality does the "mystery character" have? How does the character act?... They can discuss other things they might be interested in knowing about a "mystery character" too.

Older students' questions/discussion about the character might be more sophisticated. They might want to know... Is the character a protagonist or antagonist? What important event happens to the character? What is the character's relationship with his or her family like?...

Use PowerPoint to create a presentation about the "mystery character." (The teacher might provide a template for students to use. The template might include some of the leading questions you gave students to think about, e.g., those questions listed above.)


Informal: Assess student-pairs' discussion, participation, and questioning.
Formal: Create a checklist of questions you would like students to answer in their presentations; did they address all the required elements? You might create a rubric that contains the following rating scale and criteria.

1. Content is well organized; headings or bulleted lists are used to group related material.
2. Made excellent use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc., to enhance the presentation. 3. Presentation was interesting, well rehearsed with smooth delivery that held audience's attention. 4. Four or more descriptive words were used to describe the character. 5. Presentation contained no misspellings or grammatical errors. 6. Students listened intently; did not make distracting noises or movements. 7. Partners worked cooperatively with no need for adult intervention.

Rating Scale
0= not present
1= rarely
2= sometimes
3= always

Other Resources:
You might create a rubric to assess student work, effort, and presentation that uses/combines elements from these rubrics found online:

Submitted By

Submitted by Miranda Babin, Southdown Elementary School, Houma, Louisiana

Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 03/18/2005
Last updated 03/23/2010