Back-to-School Lost and Found Challenge

During the first few days of school, everything looks neat and tidy at home and at school. Items are labeled and drawers are organized. Everything has a place! But how do you keep things this way in the upcoming weeks and months?

Start the year off right with Sprout English’s Lost and Found Challenge!

Chat about Belongings

1. Ask the kids if they know the expression Lost and Found. You could read Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. This is an adorable storybook about a lost penguin. It’s written in simple language, but you could also use the pictures and have students tell you the story. There is also a film that you can order. Corduroy by Dan Freeman is another classic lost and found themed storybook.

2. Ask the kids what kinds of items get lost in a classroom. Write the words on the board as your students come up with the nouns. You could divide the board into two columns: Personal Items and Classroom Supplies.

whiteboard marker
agenda book
gym shoes
water bottle
library books

3. Ask the kids what things they would NOT want to lose. They will probably come up with a list of things that shouldn’t come to class. You could teach the expression “prized possessions.”

security blankets
favorite stuffed animal

The Lost and Found Challenge

Print one copy of Sprout English’s Lost and Found Log and post it in your classroom near a lost and found bin or box. Tell your students you are going to do something new this year. You are going to have a Lost and Found Challenge!

Whenever a personal or classroom item goes missing, add it to the Lost and Found Log. (Or get your students to add it.) If, in a 30-day period, nothing remains missing in the classroom for more than one week, offer your students a reward.

You can adjust the challenge period (30 days or 60 days) to suit your students’ ages. Write it in at the bottom of the chart. You can also adjust how long something should be considered “missing” (two days – one week) before an item’s status changes to “lost” and your students lose the challenge. For example, if a library book goes missing and is logged on Monday and found on Tuesday, cross it out and continue the challenge. If the library book is still missing after one week, identify it as “lost” and start the challenge over at day 1. You don’t need to print another log until it fills up.

The Reward

Often when something goes missing it’s because someone who is not the owner picked it up and put it in the wrong desk, backpack, or drawer. Instead of offering a reward to someone who finds a missing item, offer a group reward or incentive for not losing items. Remind your students that it’s everyone’s responsibility to put things back where they belong. Your students should also work together to find missing items quickly before they are truly “lost.”

Write the reward in at the bottom of the Lost and Found Log. For a reward, you could bring in a special treat such as pizza or cupcakes after your students have 30 consecutive days without losing an item. Or, you could have a movie day or play day. You could even assign a few parents to be in charge of the Lost and Found reward. After all, it is usually the parents who have to run out and replace the items.

Useful Language

Make sure that your students know how to report found or missing items in English.

I can’t find my umbrella.
I lost my pencil case.
My indoor shoes are missing.
I found this water bottle. I don’t know who it belongs to.
Have you seen the stapler?

If you use the Lost and Found Log, you may want to have a rule in your classroom: Don’t tell me about a missing item unless you’ve added it to and checked the log.

For Parents

If you are a parent rather than/and a teacher, you could also do this challenge at home. Place the Lost and Found Log on your fridge or in the same location where your kids hang their backpacks. Work together to come up with an incentive or reward system. The Lost and Found Challenge may help you avoid losing water bottles and gloves as well as the kitchen scissors!


Try our Featured Find the Objects lesson plan.

Other Back-to-School Materials


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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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