Lesson 8: Secret Story Bags

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Lesson 8: Secret Story Bags

Using Secret Story Bags is a method I adapted from traditional Literature Grab Bags. I use these story bags to get the students excited about writing narrative stories. These bags also combat the typical, “I don’t know what to write about,” syndrome that many fourth graders contract during the school year. When I pull these bags out and hand one to each child, you can almost hear a pin drop. The students cannot wait to see what is in their bag—because they all know that all of the bags contain different items. They must keep their items a secret until we share all of the completed students’ stories.

“One stormy October night as I was strolling through the neighborhood…”

Literature Grab Bags Adaptation:

Secret Story Bags
Introduction: Focus & Review

1. Without saying a word, I walk over behind my desk and pull out a huge bag. I walk to the front of the room and start pulling smaller bags out of the larger bag. I don’t tell the students what I am doing, but they are all watching and waiting to see what happens.

2. After I pull out all of the small bags, I tell the students that they are each going to write a very important narrative.
Statement of Objectives:

  • Students will write a five paragraph narrative.

  • Students will use proofreading and editing skills to correct their writing.

  • Students will focus on use of language using descriptive phrases and active verbs.
  • Students will use good presentation skills to read their story aloud after completion.

Teacher Input:

Before class, I have put 3 items from my house in each bag. I put in a variety of small items like toys, cheap jewelry, pens, office supplies, artificial flowers, holiday decorations, baggies, etc. I just put in anything I can find!

Guided Practice:

1. Pass out one bag to each student. Tell them to open their bag and look in BUT keep the contents inside a secret.

2. Next, I tell them they must write a 5 paragraph story which includes all 3 items from their bag in some way. I tell them to let their imagination run wild because their story can include magic and imaginative details.
3. We review the 5 paragraph story model:

Paragraph 1: Introduction Paragraph 4: Action 3

Paragraph 2: Action 1 Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Paragraph 3: Action 2

Independent Practice:

Using a writer’s workshop model, students independently write their stories.


After stories are written, I have each student type his/her story in the computer lab. After all stories are typed, students come to the front of the classroom and take the secret items out of his or her bag. They read their story to the class.


This lesson is best done over several days working for 45 minutes each day.


  • Paper bags

  • Pens

  • Office supplies

  • Small toys

  • Small holiday decorations

  • Artificial flowers

  • Any small items are fine as long as each child has a bag of 3 items

  • Computer (for final product)

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