During my teaching, I came across a large number of students who were unmotivated in the math classroom. Unfortunately, because of their lack of engagement, I found that behavior issues frequently arose during math lessons, which ruined the learning experience for all. That inspired me to begin experimenting with ways to make math fun.
So I began to make math mysteries, which believe
it or not, took the moans and groans right out of math time! In fact, my students started to look forward to math time for a change.
Below I have outlined how these math mysteries work and how they can make math fun in your classroom whilst covering a variety of skills. At the bottom of this post, you will find the link to where you can get a complete math mystery to try today for FREE! Multiple grade level versions provided for you to choose from in the download.
It begins with a story . . .
Each math mystery begins with a one page story, and introduces the activity in an exciting way! I've found it to encourage some of my least motivated learners to get involved to solve the case!
You could print the story off for students to read to themselves, or to save paper, put it up on the board and read as a class.
The image on the right is the math mystery story to "Case of The Super Bad Superhero." In this story, one of Mathhattan's superheroes has gone bad, doing horrible things all over town. Students are tasked to become math detectives and discover the identity of the super bad superhero, so that he/she can be stopped and people rescued!
Students receive a list of possible suspects . . .
After reading the story introduction, students will receive a Possible Suspects list. As you can see in the image, important details about each suspect are given in a table format.
As students solve the clues, they will be able to eliminate suspects off the list to start narrowing it down to the super bad superhero!
It is important that the clue sheets I provide are completed in the order that I put them in (1-5). By the time students finish Clue 5, they should have only one suspect remaining on the list.....and that is the identity of the super bad superhero in this case!
Five Clues to Crack!
There are five clues to crack in every one of my math mystery activities. Once the math is correctly solved on a page, an important clue will be revealed,
helping your math detectives eliminate suspects off the list.
As you can see in the Super Bad Superhero math mystery, a variety of skills are targeted within each clue. You will always be able to see what skills are targeted within each math mystery by reading the product description of each mystery in my TPT store. I have a range of holiday, seasonal and skill focused math mysteries to choose from.
The math mysteries are created in different grade level versions so that you can choose a level that suits your class best! Most of my math mysteries are currently available for Grades 2-6, and I am working on expanding the range for Grades 1, 7 and 8 due to a number of requests. The grade levels are targeted at the Common Core State Standards, however by reviewing the skills involved you can easily determine what suits your curriculum and classroom needs best!
Multiple grade levels available!
See example below for clue swapping to differentiate.
Clue 1 in Grade 2 Page of Super Bad Superhero
Make Clue 1 in the Grade 3 version easier by swapping it out for Clue 1 in the Grade 2 version.
Or make Clue 1 in the Grade 3 version more challenging by swapping it out for Clue 1 in the Grade 4 version. ------>
Clue 1 in Grade 4 Page of Super Bad Superhero
Answer keys are always included!
The image to the left is an example of an answer sheet(Clue 3 from the Grade 4 version of Super Bad Superhero.)
For the most part, the activity is practically self-checking as students will struggle to discover the correct clues if they make mistakes in their math answers. However, I always provide an answer key, including an elimination process of the suspect list, to make life easier for you to check when required.
In the example to the left, students should conclude that they can keep any suspect on the list who has a cookie weakness and cross off the other suspects remaining with different weaknesses.
As you can see on the answer sheet, I try to make notes in color about who/what needs to be crossed off from the list. The color I write those notes in, matches the color of rows I shade in the elimination guide to show who should have been crossed off from that clue.
Awards are also provided!
Optional rewards are provided for you to print and give to your students who complete the math mystery successfully!
Depending on the theme of the math mystery, you may wish to add your own reward ideas. For example:
Hear what others have said about Math Mysteries!
"You are amazing! Thank you so much for all of your hard work. These mysteries make my special education kiddos love math. They ask for new ones as soon as we finish one. They have shown to be super useful as my kids are now scoring as high and HIGHER on benchmark tests! Keep up the awesome work! You have a customer for LIFE!" Taryn S. Sept 12, 2016
"I left this for a sub when I was out for training - and my kids asked to do it again when I got back. They loved it! Easy enough for them to complete, but challenging enough for them to spend some time working. Can't wait to buy more. Thanks so much!" Lauren H. Sept 28, 2016
"My kids ask me daily if they can work on another mystery! The love it (and so do I)."
Nicole C. Nov 3, 2016
"My students are loving these. They are just challenging enough and great for teams to build collaborative skills." Allyson P. Oct 28, 2016
"I used these math mysteries throughout the school year and my students loved them! The "mysteries" were creative, followed third grade curriculum, and made the students use critical thinking skills when marking out suspects. The kids begged me to do another one - even if it was just to redo one they had already completed!" Melissa L. July 23, 2016
"This is probably one of the best things I've ever found! We LOVED the Halloween one, which prompted me to grab the holiday pack. Thank you so much!" C S. Nov 3, 2015
"Used most of these last year and will use all of them this year. The kids actually cheered when I pulled them out. I would even catch them trying to work on them when we had put them away to move on to another activity! Great work!!!" Karen F. July 26, 2016
Get The Math Mystery: Case of The Super Bad Superhero FREE!!!
You will be taken directly to the free product in my TPT store. All you will need to do is log in to TPT, and then select the Download Now button to receive it.
(If you don't have a TPT account, registration is easy and free too!)