From Mystery to Must-Have

Grades K-2
Subjects: English Language Arts, Explore Your World

*French resource included as attachment


Entrepreneurs have incredible creativity and unique perspective – they can turn an everyday, ordinary object and turn it into a product that no one thought of before.  In this activity, stretch your learners’ creativity as they take a random mystery object and transform it into a must-have item for customers – just like a real entrepreneur!

NB Curricular Connections

English Language Arts

  • Strand: Interactions, Big Idea: Expression

Explore Your World 

  • Strand: Play and Playfulness, Big Idea: Imagination and Creativity, Skill Descriptor: Practice using flexible and fluid thinking in new and familiar situations.
  • Strand: Play and Playfulness, Big Idea: Play and Inquiry, Skill Descriptor: Ask questions of each other, tinker, wonder, and prompt new play.

What You’ll Need

  • PowerPoint Presentation From Mystery to Must-Have
  • 1 toothpick
  • Read Aloud: Not A Stick (by: Antoinette Portis)
  • A Must-Have Item Planning printable sheet From Mystery to Must-Have (or see PDF attached)
  • Random Objects in a reusable bag for students to choose (ex: brush, spatula, bowl, pencil holder, maraca)
  • Pencils
  • Recyclable materials (cardboard boxes, paper, newspaper, rubber bands, paperclips etc.) – optional


DISCUSSION: Gather learers together and ask: “What is an entrepreneur?” Allow learners to share their responses. An entrepreneur is a person who starts a business with great risk.  Then, have learners share what type of person starts something new (examples: risk taker, thinker, knows what people need/want, organized, smart with money, etc.).  “Are there entrepreneurs in our community?”  Allow learners to share new businesses that have launched near them.

CIRCLE GAME & READ ALOUD: Gather learners together in a circle. Show them 1 toothpick and tell them the object of the game: “We are going to pass around this small piece of wood, BUT it’s NOT a toothpick!  I want you to be as creative, crazy, and give us another use for this object.  I’ll go first – This is NOT a toothpick, it’s a mouse’s sword!”  Pass the toothpick around the circle (allowing learners to pass if desired) and share their NEW idea.  After every learner has had a turn, read “Not A Stick” (by: Antoinette Portis).  After reading, see if any ideas were the same, even though the stick is a little bigger in the story.

POWERPOINT ACTIVITY: One characteristic of an entrepreneur is also having a good “eye”. Entrepreneurs can often see things that others may miss.  Do YOU have an “entrepreneurial eye”?  Using the PowerPoint slides 2-5, look at the given objects and see if learners can also “see” another use for that item.  Using the arrow buttons, reveal what the inventors originally made the products for – then an entrepreneur saw something else and that’s how we know about them today!  Talk about if your guesses were close.

MYSTERY ITEM ACTIVITY: Allow learners the option to work individually, in pairs or small groups of 3. Have a variety of mystery items (that cannot be seen ahead of time) available so that each group can use 1.  Learners will use their mystery item, along with their planning printable sheet (below and on Slide 6) and recyclable materials to turn it into a NEW must-have product headed to local stores!  (Note: Learners can add recyclable items to their mystery item ONLY if it does not destroy or compromise the item – no glue, no cutting the item, etc.).

After 20-25 minutes, have learners share their creative NEW must-have product with the class, showcasing what it was before and describing what it is now!

WRAP-UP: Gather as a group to discuss the following questions: Was it challenging creating something new from not a new object? What would you do differently next time if you were given another mystery object to transform? What did you learn about being an entrepreneur that you didn’t know before today? Could you see yourself being an entrepreneur?

Looking at Slide 7 of the PowerPoint Presentation, discuss as a class how entrepreneurs at TRACC Tire Recycling in Minto “saw” old tires.  Feel free to visit their website: on more products that they are making.  Discuss: “Are there other items, like old tires, that we can re-use or see new purpose in?  How might this help our school, our community, and our world?”

Extension Ideas

  • Set up a NOT a __________! station with a basket of objects and the printable provided in your classroom. Keep the creativity going for learners and allow them to transform everyday objects into new products!
  • Host an entrepreneurial showcase in your classroom, displaying your NEW must-have objects and having learners share their innovations with another classes.
  • In Math, using 2D and 3D shapes, have learners practice their math vocabulary while also coming up with new ideas for spheres, rectangular prisms, pyramids, squares, and triangles (and more!). Ex: This is not a sphere, it’s a small alien planet!
  • Decide on a repurposed project (talk about what you are recycling and throwing out a lot of as a class – could some of these items be repurposed or re-used?) Come up with a way to reduce or reuse in your own classroom, using your entrepreneurial eye!
  • Set up a guest entrepreneur speaker to come to your class or a field trip to a local entrepreneurial business. Needing help with this, reach out to the Centre of Excellence for Entrepreneurship via email:

Reflection Activity

Please see the attached PDF for several choices on how you and your learners can reflect upon today’s activity.