You’ll Never Guess is a class held after school at Monte Vista Elementary School. This class is generally a blast. Here’s how it works when we meet in person: kids K-5 meet in the classroom and there is a something covered by a sheet on a table. As a group, they generate a list of approx 6 guesses as to what’s under the sheet. They are encouraged to guess things that could be feasible, like “Clay! An old radio! Socks! Treasure maps!” but not like a live lion or poisonous chemicals, since that won’t happen. We remove the sheet and reveal the thing, then use the thing(s) to do some sort of activity.
It’s basically guided play – technically you’d learn something while doing whatever we do but it’s not in conjunction with specific vocabulary or if someone hates it it’s not a big deal, since each week is unrelated. There is always room for discovery and independent input. Kids like surprises and the groups are always kids who signed up for dealing with the unknown (so if your child thrives on predicable routine then you would not plop them into this situation). Past examples include window screen sewing, identification and cleaning of large chunks of micacious minerals, large circular crayons for outdoor texture rubbings, 40,000 small stickers for creating a sticker mural, broken electronics for disassembly, and old toothbrushes for spatter painting.
Right now the class is on hiatus so here’s a repository of each week’s unguessable activity! Also included: mystery links for enjoyable videos/in-browser activities that might not be in the realm of what your child would normally choose to view and they generally generate thoughtful questions or may spur independent exploration.
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday May 6th:
Today you will need a pair of scissors for these activities, and paper – you can use paper from the recycle bin, those ads that come in the mail, old pages of your math workbook, etc.
The first thing you can make is a Mobius strip! You need to cut a strip of paper about 2 inches wide (you might need to cut a few and tape them end to end to make it long enough) and flip the end, then tape the ends together. Here’s some info on what they are, how to make one, and then cutting one up for a crazy surprise!
Here’s another thing that is fun to make with scissors and paper: using a regular sheet of notebook or printer paper, you can make a special kind of hole in it that you can crawl through!
Lastly, here’s something funny you can do with scissors – do you or someone you know need a haircut? If they won’t let you cut their hair or your own hair (bwomp bwomp sad trombone noise) you can make some little buddies who won’t mind if you give them crazy hair cuts using toilet paper tubes, a marker and your scissors.
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday April 29th:
For these ideas, you will need some white paper, a stapler, and something to draw with. If you want to get even crazier, get some cardboard out of the recycle bin and some paints and markers!
Okay, first you need to get some white paper. You don’t need huge sheets, so you can fold and cut yours into thirds or fourths to make it smaller/easier. On one page, draw an outline of a person’s head. A simple design works better.
Then you will need to copy it to your other pages. Hold a piece of the blank paper on top of the original head you drew, and trace it. If it’s hard to see your lines, hold it against the window so the light shines through and helps the lines show up.
Do it again to the other blank sheets, so you have 5 of the same head shape outlines.
Staple the left edge of the stack of 5 pictures like a book. Make sure the outlines line up! Again, you might want to stack them in front of a window to make sure the lines are layered precisely.
Now snip across the pages from right to left to divide the face into mouth sections, nose sections, and eye sections. You can do a top of the head section, too.
On each page, fill in the face by drawing eyes, a nose, a mouth and adding other details like drawing earring on the ears, giving one face a crazy hairdo, or a goatee.
When you’re done, fold the flaps back on different sections to mix and match the face parts to create new and weird faces. Find the weirdest one, or the most lovely face you can create.
Different artists have done this using cardboard, paint and markers to make mixed up face sets. It’s fun to create the parts, then let someone else build a face. This is easy to do with other people in your house taking turns to make a mouth, a silly hat, eyes wearing glasses, or whatever else you can think of. Our friend Stephanie was inspired by an Instagram account who does a lot of inventive things with simple materials, @amaiaarrazola . Stephanie used cardboard scraps, paint and markers to make this for her nephew. Amazing!
Want to try a similar thing online? Click this link for a free online face maker.
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday April 22nd:
Okay, for this week’s activities you will need a map (US or world), globe, or access to either of those things online. Are you ready to guess what you will be doing?
You will be looking at labels! Are you ready to do some geographical investigation?
You’ll Never Guess Thursday April 16th:
Did you guess we’d forget to post on Wednesday? No? Well, if nothing we are here to keep you on your feet. Today’s theme is more about doing something that maybe hasn’t occurred to you that you’re allowed to do; if you want to try the easiest form of it, you’ll need a rectangle or square of cardboard from the recycle bin, like the front of a cereal box or a flap of a box from something someone at your house ordered in the mail. You will also need art materials -that can be crayons, paints, oil pastels, markers, colored pencils, or that golf pencil you saved one when you went to that putt putt party at Hinkle. Get ready – you’ll never guess!
Did you guess that you will be making street art? It’s art that you make and display for the world to see and you don’t need permission from the city, a museum, a university, or an art gallery. You can just make art and hang it up and people will see it and admire it.
Be gentle when you display your art:
You may have done this before if you’ve made cool sidewalk chalk drawings by your house or apartment for people taking walks to look at. Take it a step further and make an obstacle course with instructions for people to follow – you can have a bunch of adults twirling, hopping and looking ridiculous. Who knew your chalk words could have so much power?
Another street art idea you may have tries before is painting rocks. You can put silly sayings on them, paint them to look like animals, or just make them look fancy with drips or swirls. When people see them in a yard or by the park, it feels like finding treasure! Stuff to use to decorate rocks: water color paints, crayons, nail polish, acrylic paint, glue and glitter, ink, wet chalk, house paint, spray paint, markers (permanent or washable), or oil pastels. Ask a grown up to see what might be lurking in the garage or closet for you to make some festive rock art. Figuring out where to put your rock art is almost as much fun as making it.
Now, if you want to try some other easy styles of street art, click this link for more ideas.
If you want to join a cool project around the Nob Hill neighborhood, or go looking for other people’s street art, click here.
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday April 8th:
Ok, so for this week’s unguessable activities, you will need to find a flashlight. Test it out and make sure it works – it might need fresh batteries, unless it’s that cool kind you crank to generate the electricity that powers the light. You also need access to a relatively dark space, like a bathroom with the window covered up with a towel or piece of cardboard, or a closet where you can sit on floor. You can also wait until night time and then try this in any dark room!
Ok, now that you have your flashlight, let’s get to it.
First things first: have you ever put a flashlight behind thin areas of your skin and looked at the veins and arteries? This also works well if you have a dog or cat who might let you look at their ears by shining the light through them (never in their or your eyes!). If you put the flashlight in your mouth (wash it afterward of course) the thin skin of your cheeks looks cool, or shine it up towards your nose and check yourself out in a mirror. Crazy!
Make a nifty custom constellation in a dark room with an empty box from the recycle bin and poking device like a skewer or pencil.
Not done messing with your flashlight yet? Good, we aren’t either. Go find a CD or DVD (ask an adult to make sure it’s an okay one to try science with – this activity shouldn’t hurt it, but if it’s your mom’s favorite CD she might be crabby if you scratched it).
More flashlight fun: if your family is taking lots of walks, ask if you can take one right before your bedtime, and bring your flashlight, of course. This inspired us!
Want to see what your flashlight wishes it could be when it grows up? Click here!
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday April 1st:
I know it seems like it should be a joke, but You’ll Never Guess is always sort of weird and surprising, so we’re not pranking you today, just good wholesome ideas for fun and enjoyment.
You will need access to a mirror (like the one in the bathroom or a bedroom), a sheet of paper and writing utensil, and something like a clipboard or book to use as a writing surface. Can you guess what we will be doing?
We will be writing backwards! You will want it to look correct when it you hold it up to the mirror. There are a couple of good ways to go about this. One is to think really hard and do it on the paper, holding it up to the mirror, checking where you’ve made a mistake and then fixing it and trying it again. The weirder way is to hold up the paper in front of your body against the clipboard or book, and then try and do it “live” as you look in the mirror.
Our suggestion is to start with your name or your pet’s name, then move into a phrase, sentence or even a rhyme if you want to get crazy. You can also try drawing a picture facing the mirror – it’s opposite of how you think and might make your brain feel extra spicy!
Okay, are you ready for more backwards challenges? Get a spongy soft ball that you can throw safely indoors, or make a ball from a pair of socks. Find a big bowl (or to make it easier, a laundry basket or a bin!).
Put the bowl or container behind you – that’s your target! Without turning around, throw the ball over your head backwards and see if you can make it into the bin. This is easier if you have lots of sock balls to try again , or find a sister or brother who is willing to pick up your missed shots and let you try until you are a backwards shot making master! To be fair, let them try it too and YOU have to chase around THEIR missed shots. 🙂
Obviously, move the target back a bit so it is not so easy peasy.
Other backwards ideas: switch around all your clothes so you are wearing them backwards. Walk backwards around the driveway, yard or house, but be careful! You can also honor the time tested tradition of declaring it Opposite Day and asking people questions and then reminding them their real answer is the opposite of whatever they said. If you need to get along real well with people in your house right now maybe save this one for the summer.
Watch cool videos of things happening in reverse!
You’ll Never Guess Wednesday March 25th:
Okay, you will need to collect 8 shoes from around your house. They need to be human shoes (no Barbie shoes etc) and they can be 8 different ones or 4 pairs of 2. What do you think we are going to do with them? You will probably never guess. Scroll down to find out!
We are going to try and create a shoe tower! Stacking shoes is surprisingly difficult, because they all have a varying center of balance due to their different shapes and sizes. Can you stack all 8 into a tower without supporting it with your body? I was able to stack 6 without it falling over but I will need to practice longer to get all of them to stack. I guess it would be easy if I was using 8 large men’s flip flops but I was challenging myself with different types of shoes.
If you tried it and it was too easy (or it was super frustrating and you want to give up) here is a different shoe idea for you:
Bonus links to fun stuff: