MasterCoach Mystery Bag Challenge

I’ve been playing around with an idea to get  my Year 10 students to think about games and how to run them.
I’ve always been a fan of inserting popular culture references into my teaching, and one particular TV show captured my attention last week. Master Chef Australia is on at the moment, and it saw a segment that inspired me to try something new (for me, anyway).

I call this the MasterCoach Mystery Bag Challenge, based on the MasterChef Mystery Box Challenge.
Not seen MasterChef?
I’ve Tube Chopped a short video to give you the idea….

What I do with the kids is get them to work in groups of 2 or 3. I grab a bag of random sport gear. Markers and bibs are standard. It has to include an item for moving around between the players (ball, frisbee, bean bag etc) and some props (hoops, speed ladders, etc) that may or may not be used. I then give the bag to the group.

A MasterCoach Mystery bag

The group then has the time it takes for the rest of the class to clear the change room and have the roll marked to set up their activity.  Based on the Mystery Bag contents they can use what they want, and devise a set of rules as well. They usually have between 5 – 10 minutes to get set up.
When the class comes to them, they have to explain the rules, run the class through a warm up and basic intro to their game.

The instructions are given

The game they devise runs for 20 minutes – during this time they can modify games aspects of the game or rules where necessary.
During this time, I ask the group members Game Sense style questions (What would make this work better? What would you change if you started over? What did you find tricky?). So far some of the conversations have surprised me with the depth of understanding and thinking from the kids.

The game is played

I also had a thought. This could be made even more interesting by using Jarrod Robinson’s Spin It app. You could give the group a chance to spin up random warm ups or activities to be included in their session. You could do this well in advance or for extreme planning stress, just before they start.

Give it a crack – I’d love to hear your stories on how it went for you, or about variations of the activity that work for you.


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14 thoughts on “MasterCoach Mystery Bag Challenge”

  1. This is a great idea! I have tried something similar at my previous school but I never thought of “branding” it like you did. I’ll give it a try of using the Spin It app. Students love this one.

    • Hi, and thanks for your interest in my blog! I stumbled upon this watching TV (I hope I didn’t steal your idea!) and the simplicity of it appeals to me. I don’t like complicated in my teaching 🙂 – Jonesy

  2. Great idea, I did a similar thing last year but had 4 groups (1 in each corner of the basketball court), each team had 10 seconds to select the items they believed they needed. They then had to create a game, this never worked as they didn’t communicate when selected so often ended up with a tennis racket, frisbee, and a baseball bat. I then gave them a chance to go back and trade 1 item, I repeated this a final time but the last time they could talk to other groups and try and trade with them. By the end they had without knowing created an idea for a game just through thinking about the equipment needed and some trading and communication.

    • Hi Mark and thanks for the interest in this post. That sounds great – time constraints certainly get them thinking. I thought I hadn’t given them enough time, but the kids consistently come up with good quality ideas and the confidence to make them work. That surprised me! Good luck with your idea – do you blog about your work? It’s always cool to read about other people’s stuff. Cheers, Jonesy 🙂

  3. Hello, my name is Aneshia Lewis. I am an Elementary Education major at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your post. I think by letting the students create games as groups enhances their creative thinking and communication skills. I would love to use the Mystery Bag Challenge in my classroom one day.

  4. Hi, my name is Russell McDuffie and I am in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. This is an excellent idea for an activity. I always find it fun to give the students the ability to be creative just so I can see what they can come up with. This game is great at reinforcing team-building as well as making the students communicate with one another. I will definitely keep it in mind when I begin teaching in the future.

    My Blog

    • Hi Russell. Thanks for the interest in the post. I like it because you can see the kids thinking on their feet. Good luck with your career. I’ll be sure to check out your blog 🙂 Jonesy

  5. I stumbled upon your website and love it. I am a 9th grade PE teacher at a High School in California. I used this mystery bag game as my midterm last week. The feedback from other staff members was overwhelming. They couldn’t believe that I used a QR code in my curriculum, haha. I found that not every student had a smartphone like I had assumed, so I ended up using my QR Code reader on my iphone 50% of the time. I had a short period for the midterm (minimum day) and only had time to get them into groups and create a game based on the random equipment they received from the smartphone. They wrote up a diagram of the game and turned it in. I then required them to log onto a google classroom I created and sign in with the directions of the game. This was worth 10% of their midterm grade. Tomorrow is the big day when they get to “unveil” their game and teach it to the other groups who will play it with them. I’ll let you know how it goes, and thank you so much for the idea and inspiration!

    • Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you’ve got a sweet set up! I’d love to know how the students responded to it and what their games looked like. Cheers – Jonesy


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