The Math Mystery ‘Case of The School Invaders’ is great for this sort of assessment at the beginning of the new school year.
My Back to School Math Mystery called ‘Case of The School Invaders’ has been designed for this sort of assessment right at the beginning of the school year. It is a fun way to get your students back into the rhythm of math while helping you gauge their math abilities (to the extent of the skills covered in the packet at least). In the ‘Case of The School Invaders’ packets, the grade levels incorporate a review of math concepts based on the previous grade level requirements (this may vary depending on your curriculum, so please check in the item description what math skills are covered to see if it suits your standards). If you decide that you like using math mysteries as an assessment for learning instead of an end of unit review/post-assessment, you can always use earlier (or easier) grade level editions (if available) as a warm-up into a math unit. For example, if I wanted to begin working on addition skills with my third graders, I would use the second-grade edition of ‘Case of The Angry Adder,’ an addition focused math mystery, to begin the unit with my students. While they worked on it, I would observe to see if they have mastered earlier addition skills before moving on to new content OR if not, work on earlier skills before moving on to new content to make sure everyone will be set up for better success with new/ harder math work.
I have a math mystery FREEBIE available HERE if you would like to try before you buy. It comes in multiple difficulty levels.
Otherwise, the Back to School ‘Case of The School Invaders’ Packets are available through the picture links below. Also comes with a NEW Video Hook! The video hook is an optional extra you could use to set the stage to engage your new students into math this year!
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During the first day back at school, establishing a set of classroom rules is key to a smooth running and productive classroom.
Looking for a back to school icebreaker activity to kick start the year in a fun way?
Check out this FREE lesson plan and activity. Free download below:
Icebreakers are a great way to helps kids feel relaxed in stressful situations, such as at the beginning of a new school year where they find themselves with a different teacher, peers, and classroom.
Below, I've collected five fun icebreakers that you could use during the first week back at school. I've chosen ones that also help particularly shy students feel comfortable too. Some icebreakers can be daunting for some kids, and I think some activities create more anxiety for them instead of comfort (which is the overall goal of these activities).
1. Guess Who
Guess Who is a great game to kick start getting to know things about individuals without putting anyone in the spotlight straight away (those few who dread the straight up intros will be grateful). It also helps kids learn things about others in their classroom.
Pass out small pieces of paper to each student and tell them to write down the following things, without putting their names on it:
Variation: Students write their name on the paper, but the person who gets it in the 'raffle' cannot announce who it is until guessed correctly.
2. Would you rather . . .
I love this one a because it gets everyone up and moving, and helps kids find common grounds with others.
You will need to make enough space (move desks to the side or find an outdoor area). Using tape or chalk, make a long line down the middle of the classroom or area.
Then, explain to students that you will be saying would you rather an option A or an option B. If they prefer the first option, they are to go to the right side, and if they prefer option B, they must stand on the left side. You will continue with different options, and students move to the side of their preference each time.
If they don't like either side, they still must choose which they would prefer anyway.
Would you rather A. eat chocolate or B. eat ice-cream. I make a gesture to the side for each, and students then must run within 5 seconds to their preferred side.
Few more examples:
- would you rather play X-Box or Playstation
- would you rather swim or run
- would you rather eat pizza or burgers
- would you rather go to the beach or the snow
- would you rather sing or dance
I usually do a few to get the game going, then invite students to take turns to ask the 'would you rather . . . ' questions.
3. 'What's going on?' Draw & Guess
Students who love to draw will particularly enjoy this one and get to show off their talents.
Phase 1: Give students a piece of paper. Instruct them to draw something that tells of an event that happened to them during the summer break (or recently). They are not allowed to use any words, pictures only. They must draw silence because they cannot tell anyone what happened (otherwise it will ruin phase 2).
Phase 2: Depending on how much time you have to spend on this, do Phase 2 as a whole class or to save time, split students into groups.
Each student has a turn to show the class (or group) their picture. They cannot say anything about the picture. Other students must try to figure out what happened by just looking at the picture. After a set number of guesses, if no one gets it correct, the artist can narrate the event to the class.
4. Mirror Talk
I like this one because it encourages good listening skills as well as helps students get to know their classmates. It also gets students talking in front of the class but makes it easier because they will be talking about their partner.
First, pair off students with a partner. Next, set a two-minute timer. One partner is to talk first, while the other is to listen first. During the first two minutes, the talker must tell the listener things about themselves, for example, hobbies, dreams, favorite subjects, etc. The listener is not to speak at all. Once the two minutes is up, it is time to swap roles. Set another two minutes on the timer, and the other partner gets a turn to talk while the other listens.
Once both partners have spoken, it is time to go to the class. Each student has to tell the rest of the class at least three things they have discovered about their partner. Everyone gets to speak about their mirror partner, so the whole class gets to learn interesting things about each other. If a partner doesn't 'mirror' information correctly, then the other partner can chime in to correct the fact.
You could turn this into a competition to see who can remember the most about their partner.
5. Find someone who . . .
Another fun (a bit noisy) one but will get your kids moving and also interact with each other.
Have all students standing. Then explain when you say for example, 'Find someone who has the same favorite color as you,' they must go around the classroom to find someone who says they have the same favorite color as them. They can find more than one person, and it's fine if they don't find someone. The point of the game is for everyone to move around and start talking and learning about their classmates. You could ring a bell when it is time to say the next 'Find someone . . . ' to get their attention for the next thing. I like to keep it fast paced, so I don't leave each one for too long even if people are still looking. It keeps the action moving, kids don't need to start to stress about not finding someone, and the ones that find someone quickly don't get bored waiting.
Mix it up between looking for someone with something in common, and then just looking for someone that meets the criteria given.
Some examples you could use:
So there are five easy to use Icebreakers that are fun to use during the first week back at school.
You may also like to ease your kids into math this year with a fun Math Quest. It has been designed for the start of the school year. Find out more below.
Back To School Math Quest: School Jungle Jam
This resource is available in different levels of difficulty. A fun video hook (provided above) can be used to introduce kids to the activity.
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A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.