First, SET THE STAGE TO ENGAGE!
Each Math Mystery begins with an opening one-page story (as in the image below). The story sets up the mystery and has been designed to engage students. We are now also creating VIDEO HOOKS for the math mysteries, which are an optional extra that can be used to introduce your class to the activity and ‘hook’ them into the math work. (View an example Video Hook below too).
CHOOSE to use either the written story or video hook to introduce the activity to your students. You could choose to use both if you wish.
AN EXTENSIVE LIST OF POSSIBILITIES!
Each Math mystery for 2nd grade and up comes with a long list of possible solutions to the mystery component of the activity (see image A). The 1st-grade math mysteries come with fewer options and visual pictures instead (see image B). These are designed to make the guessing factor fun and large for the older grades. For the table list of suspects, you could assign a suspect to each student to make it extra exciting.
FIVE CLUE SHEETS WITH MATH QUESTIONS
Every math mystery in my range is consistent with having five clues to solve. Each clue sheet will require students to carry out math work. If the answers are correct, an important clue reveals in a message! If the clue doesn’t make sense, then students will know there are errors in their answers. The fact that these are practically self-checking also reduces teacher marking time...YAY!!!
To quickly and easily find out the math skill covered in each clue, check the product description of the math mystery grade version you would like.
The clue sheets (as long as it is the same clue number) are interchangeable between the 2nd to 8th-grade math mysteries (as long as the story title is the same); so you can swap pages around to tailor the mystery to suit your learners and differentiate within your classroom. For example, in the image below.
You can try this out with the free mystery at the end.
On top of all the math questions embedded into the mystery, critical thinking is an additional must to solve the mystery component of the activity. Upon discovery of a clue, students must read, comprehend and think about what the clue means for them to do with the LIST given. It doesn’t always tell you who or what to cross off; sometimes it is giving you a clue as to who to keep instead! Some clues can be quite tricky (but make for great discussions). The clues are sometimes straightforward and easy to interpret with what to do, others can be in a riddle form (like the one below), that will require an extra step in thinking about the elimination step.
"A LADY WAS ABLE TO SCARE OFF THE ANTIHERO WITH COOKIES'
If a lady was able to scare the antihero away with cookies, then the Super Bad Superhero MUST HAVE a weakness to cookies. Some students may accidentally cross off all suspects with a weakness to cookies. However, it SHOULD be to cross off all suspects that have a weakness to something else and KEEP only suspects with a weakness to cookies.
By the end of the five clues, if done correctly, only one row will remain. That row provides the answer to the mystery!
Once students declare the correct mystery answer, you have the optional award provided within the download that you can give to them.
If the student gets the correct mystery answer, only a glance over the completed clue sheets is all the marking you will need to do.
MULTIPLE USES FOR THE CLASSROOM OR AT HOME
There are multiple uses for math mysteries. These included, but are not limited to,
DOWNLOAD A FREE MULTIPLE GRADE LEVEL MATH MYSTERY TO TRY!
Download directly above or find it in my TPT store HERE to download for free. Video hook included!
The second poster outlines the steps to rounding numbers, with an example included.
You may also be interested in this fun ROUNDING Math Mystery: Case of The Robot Robbery. Each grade version will engage and motivate your students to get lots of practice with rounding, as they must solve who the guilty robot is.
3rd Grade Version - Rounding to the Nearest Ten and Hundred
4th Grade Version - Rounding Whole Numbers up to Millions
5th Grade Version - Rounding Decimals
Video Hook (Optional Use to introduce the Mystery Story)
CHECK OUT FEEDBACK FROM OTHER EDUCATORS
Click on the Grade cover image to find out more!
Counting & Ordering Numbers 1-20 Activity
For this simple activity, I labeled the numbers 1-20 on the individual Lego blocks. On the opposite side of each block, I drew the amount of dots to represent the number (optional).
Once ready to begin the activity, spread the blocks out and jumble the numbers around as in the picture below. Keep all of the numerals facing upwards. Then, set the challenge to build a tower putting the numbers in the correct order from 1-20.
If stuck on the number, count the dots!
I put Lego wheels on the base for my son since he loves trucks and cars, but any Lego base will do to help the tower from falling. He enjoyed driving his tower of 20 blocks around once he finished the task.
Differentiation option for older kids – Comparing and Ordering Larger Numbers
This activity can easily be adapted to suit older kids to work on comparing ordering larger numbers.
To do this, all I would do is label the blocks with the numbers appropriate to challenge the level of difficulty my students need.. Below is an example set for ordering 4-digit numbers.
Then set the challenge to build a tower in ‘ascending’ order (from least to greatest).
Another great activity that can be used at home or in the classroom is this fun Math Mystery below, which focuses on Comparing and Ordering numbers, 'Case of The Outback Outlaw'. Kids will be practicing this important skill whilst also working on solving who stole the opals from the Coober Pedy mine in the Outback of Australia.
It's available in four different levels to choose difficulty from. Click on the grade level version below to find out what number range/s are explored in each..
For this post I made three sets of different patterns. I'll share a yummy choc-chip recipe at the end of this post, but any cookie recipe will do to use as a visual.
You may choose to vary the level of difficulty in number patterns presented depending on your class level/ability.
I've outlined my instruction/questioning suggestions within this post.:
The First Cookie Batch Pattern Sequence
1. Display one set of cookies in their pattern sequence (like in the photo above). I recommend using the basic choc-chips, or something all in one color first.)
2. Ask students to observe the arrangement of cookies. Discuss what they see, and direct towards looking for a number pattern. Some questions you could ask to guide, include:
- What do you notice about the cookies?
- Can you see a pattern?
- What is the pattern doing?
You may get a variety of answers, such as (if using a pattern like in the image above): more choc-chips are added to each cookie; There is an odd number of choc-chips; two extra choc-chips are added to each cookie.
After discussing student observations, ask (and guide if necessary) if they can come up with a rule for the pattern presented in the cookies. Model out your thoughts if necessary.
'There seems to be a growing number of choc-chips on the cookies. It starts off with 3, then 5, 7, 9, 11. The difference in choc-chips between each cookie is 2. So each time, two more choc-chips are added. So the rule must be 'Add 2.'
After coming up with the pattern rule, draw three circles (to represent empty cookies) on the board. (or instruct students to draw them on a piece of paper). Instruct students to continue the pattern by drawing the choc-chips on to the empty cookies to represent each number. If students are coping well at this point, extend the task for them to come up with the next three or more numbers in the sequence without the use of drawing choc-chips on the cookies and applying the pattern rule.
When doing instructional lessons like this, I like to do more than one example, so I will share the other cookie sequences I made.
Second Cookie Pattern Sequence
I went with mini M&M's for this batch because they were smaller and worked better for squeezing lots onto a single cookie.
Exploring number patterns with larger quantities can get quite tricky when working with average sized cookies. As you can see in the image above, the cookie base had to get a little bit bigger to accommodate all of the M&M's.
If you decide to go with M&M's, the colors may confuse some students; however, I think it would also be a fantastic initial challenge to see who can look beyond the colors and see that the pattern lies in the quantities.
Similar to the suggestions in the first batch of cookies, guide students through figuring out the pattern rule (perhaps with a little less guidance to see if they are catching on the thought process).
Depending how your students are going with the concept, this time instruct them to draw the next three cookies of the pattern themselves to continue the number sequence. Then another three numbers just applying the rule.
For the third cookie pattern sequence, again depending how the class went with the first two, just display the cookies.
Third Cookie Pattern Sequence
Yeah.....That first cookie with lots of choc-chips should have 20 -just in case you miss counting the one choc-chip hanging off the side at the bottom left of it. Baking isn't one of my strengths;. I must admit that I got more excited about the math part when making these.)
For the third round of cookie patterns, see if students can independently figure out the pattern rule and solve what the next number in the sequence should be.
For this particular sequence, the next number would be 0 as the rule is 'subtract 4.' If doing this with older or gifted students, you could set the challenge to come up with the next three numbers of the sequence and dive into negative integers. So then in this example, 0, -4, -8.
Once students are ready, discuss answers as a class.
Then, you could use the free worksheet I have provided in the download below, to continue practicing this style of cookie patterns. The download includes to cookie pattern practice sheets and a free empty cookie pattern template for students to have a go at creating their own number patterns.
Free Worksheet & Template Download below
At the end of the lesson, enjoy sharing the cookies to eat with your class. You might need to set some sort of competition (or use as a reward) to give students choices of which cookie . . . I know which cookie I'd want!
- Set the challenge for the student who can figure out all the pattern rules first; or
- who can come up with the most interesting number patterns.
Super Easy Cookie Recipe for the busy Teacher
So for those of you who are not keen on baking, but want to quickly whip up a batch of cookies for a math lesson, this recipe is super easy. Definitely not the yummiest chocolate-chip cookie recipe I've made, but when using for mathematical purposes and short on time this one wins.
Preheat oven to 356F or 180C. Grease 2 baking trays with melted butter.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between each addition until combined. Stir in the flour until combined. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Roll 2-teaspoons portions of the mixture into balls. Place, about 5cm apart, on the prepared trays. Use a fork to flatten slightly. If planning to make patterns with large quantities, you may need to fiddle around with the size of your cookies to accommodate.
Arrange chocolate chips onto your cookies (I like to make the patterns per row on the tray). Bake for 18 minutes or until golden and just cooked through. Set aside on the trays for 10 minutes to cool.
Below are my very rushed cookies (a 3 year old- and 8 month old around my legs in the kitchen makes it a little challenging.)
So there's a new and different approach to starting out your number patterns unit. If you would like to share your cookie patterns or teaching ideas with this, I;d love to hear them and share with everyone.
Are you looking for more fun ways to practice number patterns? You may like to try my Patterns Math Mystery 'Case of The Poisonous Pizzas.' It comes with a video introduction (view below) to 'hook' your students into the activity.
Click on the cover images below to find out the pattern skills covered in each grade edition. The clues are interchangeable if you need to differentiate this activity for your students.
You may also be interested in this Patterns Games Page which provides a menu of free games provided on other websites. CLICK HERE TO VIEW.
Thank you for reading and checking out my website!
Please watch to check suitability and style for your age group. These are generally more popular with the younger ones.
Autumn Leaves are Falling Down
Jump Up, Jump In
You may also be interested in this Fun Fall Math Mystery Activity 'Case of The Furious Fall Winds.'
Find out the math skills covered in each grade edition by clicking the covers below. The description in my TPT store will outline five skills included in this Fall Math Mystery.
A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.
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