Mystery Can

Your students will love using their senses to try to guess what food is in the mystery can!

Black and white image of tin can with sock taped to the top to hide contents of can.

This activity facilitates food exploration through the sense of touch. Teachers can make their own mystery can by covering a clean can with a sock so that students are unable to see what is inside. Consider making multiple mystery cans if you have a large class or would like to prepare a variety of foods in advance. 

Choose an assortment of real food with distinct tactile features such as pasta shapes or corn on the cob. Partially fill the can with one food item, then have students examine the food with their hands and describe what they feel. After everyone has a chance to feel the mystery food, have students guess what it could be. 

Making your mystery can: 

  1. Clean out a 14-19 oz tin can with one end removed. Use duct tape to seal off rough edges. 

  1. Cut off the toe end of a clean sock. 

  1. Slide the sock onto the can and attach with tape. 

  1. Optional- decorate the can with pictures, wrapping paper or ribbon. 

How to use your mystery can: 

  • Hide one food item with distinct tactile features (texture, shape) inside the mystery can so each student cannot see the mystery food but can put in a hand to feel it. Some ideas include: 

    • Whole apple 
    • Dried lentils 

    • Twisty pretzels 

    • Dried oats 

    • Pasta shapes 

    • Raisins 

    • Corn on the cob, cut to a size that would fit inside your can 

  • Explain the activity and set ground rules. Remind students to only use their sense of touch and be gentle with the food. 

  • Pass the mystery can around the classroom and encourage students to examine the food with their hands. 

  • Ask the students a variety of questions as they pass the can around. Questions could include: 

    • Is the food rough (crunchy)? 
    • Is the food smooth? 

    • How big is the food? 

    • What shape is the food? 

    • Is the food hard? 

    • Is the food soft? 

    • What colour do you think the food is? 

    • Where do you think the food grows? 

    • Do you think the food is crunchy? 

  • After everyone has a chance to feel the mystery food, have students guess what it could be. Remove the mystery food from the can for everyone to see. 

  • As a wrap up, discuss with your students: 

    • What key features helped them to identify the food? 
    • Did they think it may be a different food? 

    • Have students tried this food before? How did they eat it? 

  • Repeat as many times as you would like or try a new food for each day of the week. 

  • You can extend this activity by completing a taste test of the mystery food or use it as an ingredient in a recipe to make as a class. 


Multi level
Group Size
Full Class
5 senses