Evaluate what technology you have available in the classroom
- First, evaluate how many computers, iPads, does your class have readily access to? The more you have, the easier it will be to reward students more frequently. However, if the technology that you have access to is limited, it can still work well. I did this with only one computer and then I also offered my own personal iPad as an additional option sometimes.
- Internet connection will make this easier and keep it free if you have available at your school. If you do not have Internet connection, then you may need to spend a bit of money just to begin with by purchasing some games that can be played offline.
- Do you have Adobe Flash Player installed on your computer? Most games will need Flash. If you do not have Flash Player installed on your computer, then you will at least need Google Chrome Internet Browser available. Chrome has built in Flash and may be the easier option for your students to access the games. You can download Chrome HERE for free.
- iPads do not have Flash available on them, but there is a way to access the games through the iPad. You will need to download the free app 'Puffin Web Browser.' Opening this app and using its browser to access the games will make most of them work. Some games still may be too difficult to play on touch screen though; so they will need to be trialed by users to see what is iPad friendly and what can only really be played on the computer.
Have a list of websites with Educational Games bookmarked
Having some websites with educational games bookmarked will help you refer students to which websites they are allowed to access and choose games from. With the abundance of free online games available on the Internet, I like to still keep them directed to educational type games that are appropriate for the classroom, but are still fun of course! Below I have provided a list of some websites that provide free and easy access to an assortment of educational games.
Decide on time and management
You will need to make some decisions about time and management in order to keep it consistent for everyone and also manageable. Below I've listed some questions to ask yourself. You can choose however it suits you and your class best. I've provided suggestions on what I have done just to give some ideas on how you could go about implementing it.
Decide how students can earn 'Game Time' tokens
You may simply want to just replace the current rewards that you are using with game time tokens, OR you may wish to implement a whole new system to introduce the new reward scheme. I've included some suggestions below:
Game Space Set Up
Just a final note on set up, particularly with tablets. You could set up a special area in your room, similar to a calm corner or reading lounge, for students to use their game time. This helps keep other students from getting distracted by those playing a game. It also sets a special place for students to really feel rewarded. Put some colorful cushions, words of praise on the walls, make it feel like a real treat.
Games are a fantastic reward, that I'm sure many students will enjoy. In my opinion, these types of rewards are a WIN WIN for both student and teacher. If it doesn't work for your class, then you can always go back to what you were doing . . . But, if it does work then HOORAY! Save some $$$ and keep their minds active with fun games!
1. Independent activity
This option is super simple, just print and give to your students to complete independently. A few ways to do this choice:
- You can pace the activity by only giving each clue out as one is completed, or
- you can give the entire mystery as a booklet or put in a case file and allow students to work through it as they wish.
It is IMPORTANT to note that the clues must always be completed in the order I have put them in (1-5). Otherwise, if you want to do the clues in a different order, I would recommend not giving the suspect list out until all five clues are completed before doing the elimination process.
Doing these independently, is a great choice for consolidation, review, or assessment. You may like to add these as part of a regular math lesson, early finisher work, or to keep handy in the sub tub.
2. Group Work
This is a great option to get students working as teams and to save paper on photocopying. I recommend group sizes between 2-6, but it is up to you in what works best for your class. In this situation, students could work together and be responsible for a clue or two within their group; helping each other get through the math problems. A couple of notes and recommendations on grouping:
- Mixed ability groups work best if you choose to have everyone working on the same math mystery grade level,
- otherwise you can purchase different grade levels of the same mystery and use to tailor the mysteries for same group levels. I don't grade level mark the actual worksheets, so you can keep levels a secret still. For example for a fourth grade class, you may wish to give a grade 5 version for your advanced students, grade 4 version for your in the middle students and the grade 3 version for your students who need it a bit easier. You can also tailor it better by clue swapping across the grade 2 - 6 versions because the clues are interchangeable (as long as the clue number is the same). In the free mystery download, you will be able to get a variety of levels to test try doing this. Please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want any further help with how to do this.
Again, this is as easy as print and go, with the added part of organizing the groups.
Add an extra element of fun by making it a competition on which group can solve the mystery correctly first!
3. Math Centers
You could do this in one of two ways:
1. Set up one clue per math center, you could base the whole lesson around all five clues; or
2. Set up one of your centers with a single math clue, do a new clue for each day of the week as a center activity.
Students complete the clue at the center, and then make sure to keep the clue they have discovered with them. Do not give the list for elimination until all five clues have been completed for students to solve the mystery.
This is a great option if you would like to:
- pace out the activity
- add any hands on materials to help students through the math
- have students working together
- review a single skill that you would like to target for that lesson
(Optional) Add a bit more fun by adding some magnifying glasses, crime scene tape and detective hats if you wish!
4. Whole Class Activity
If you are short on time or would like to save on photocopying, then this option may be for you. It can be done in one of two ways:
- Split the class into five teams. You could make the teams based on their math strength, then get each team to work on solving just one clue. Then, get the class to share their clues at the end to do the solve the mystery together.
- Work on one clue a lesson, and base the whole lesson around the math in it. For this choice, model and teach the math skill required to complete the clue. To save on copies, put the clue page up on the board and instruct students to copy the boxes with the numbers down, and then work through the questions in their workbooks. As they solve each answer, instruct them to place the paired letter with it so that they can complete the crack the code in their workbooks. I've included an image below showing an example. With this option, depending on the students ability and understanding, you may wish to work through the questions as a class, in pairs or independently and come together at the end to check and reflect.
5. Homework Assignment
You could send these math mysteries home as an assignment at the end of a unit or for spiral review over the holidays. There are a mix of content focused and holiday themed math mysteries. The holiday and season themed mysteries contain a mix of skills and are a great option for spiral review with a fun theme. The content focused mysteries are a better choice for an end of unit assignment, OR you could go a grade level down and use it as a pre-assessment task for students to review skills from the previous year before beginning the unit in class. This can help with finding out how well your students remember the content and get an idea of what may need to be revisited before beginning the unit. It will also serve as a great mental preparation activity for students to begin learning the new content within that skill area.
Grab a completely FREE Math Mystery to try with your students.
With Easter around the corner, I thought it would be fun to add some new games to the website. I found three fantastic and free Easter puzzles that will keep minds active in a colorful and engaging way!
These can be used as an early finisher treat, a reward, part of a math rotation during Easter time, or you could direct students to the links for them to enjoy at home during the break. I like to use these as part of my positive reinforcement rewards. Computer game time is something most students enjoy, it's still an educational reward and it's free! So it is a WIN WIN WIN!
To play each game below, simply click on the cover image or CLICK HERE TO PLAY link provided.
A fantastic Easter memory game that will surely exercise the brain. The levels grow in difficulty, as users must flip tiles to make a match. Remember Easter Egg patterns and pictures makes this colorful game interesting, in season and yep challenging!
CLICK HERE TO PLAY
Similar to the popular game Angry Birds, this Robbed Eggs game is a fantastic logic puzzle that will also keep minds active during the Easter season. Users must shoot eggs to reach the eggs in the nest.
Do not be fooled by the ease of the first few levels, it gets more challenging as you progress.
Working with angles, strategy and logic . . . this fun game will certainly keep minds active.
CLICK HERE TO PLAY
This Easter Egg Challenge is a puzzle game requiring the user to make Easter Egg matches of three or more. A timer has also been added to keep the brain working faster!
This super fun and cute looking game gets progressively harder, and requires lots of thinking and strategy skills.
CLICK HERE TO PLAY
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A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.