Here's a Mystery Cauldron Halloween center activity idea that can be easily differentiated from toddler to elementary school student! It may also be a fun theme to add to your classroom's calming corner if you have one.
This post will first outline the set up, and then list some adaptation suggestions to suit kids from toddler to fifthgrader!
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Are your students bored or lacking the motivation to practice adding numbers? Make addition fun in the classroom, or even at home, with these engaging, fun, and easy to prep activities. I've tried to include a variety of ideas. Some work well for the early years, while others suit older students. From preschool to fifth grade, there's something in this post to teach, challenge, and motivate.
If you are looking for ways to add some fun to practicing rounding numbers, then check out these fun and free online rounding games. Make the games a part of your math centers if you have iPads, tablets, or computers available (with Internet access), or encourage to play at home to get some extra rounding math practice in.
A few of the mysteries in my Math Mystery range are structured differently by following a 5 W's Case File Format. These are particularly useful for younger students or special needs. In this post:
NEW 5 W's LOGO LABEL ON COVERS To enable you to quickly identify if a math mystery follows this 5 W's structure, I've added a new little logo somewhere on the covers. If this is the type of math mystery structure you would prefer to use with your kids, keep an eye out for this little image below:
GRADE LEVEL GUIDES
The grade levels are marked for recommended age ranges because of the math involved within the mystery packet. Unlike the regular math mystery range, because these tend to focus on early learning skills, they can be used across K2 depending where your students are at. For example, in the Case of the Great Zoo Escape, the packet focuses on addition and subtraction within 20. This is a skill that would be useful for both first and second graders to practice and build fluency. The packets marked for Kindergarten, contain basic numeracy skills, and would be great for the early part of first grade too. Even with the grade guides, I still recommend checking the math skills required in the product description to determine suitability for your students since no class is the same.
For some younger students, the elimination process in my regular math mystery range is a little bit too much. This is where these packets come in handy; if you still want the fun element of a mystery, but in a less stressful format for your little detectives. Instead of the usual list of suspects/locations/scenarios, in the 5 W's series, that page is replaced with a case file with five questions to be answered  Who, Where, When, What, and Why? (see image below).
Each clue requires some math work and some ELA work to solve which of the options at the bottom need to be cut/pasted to the Case File.
â€‹Below is an example from the Case of The Super Bad Superhero:
As you can see in the clue example page above, there are five options at the bottom of the page. Students must complete the math activity to figure out what is the super power of the super bad superhero. Once solved, the student must cut out the super power and paste it onto their Case file page in the 'What  Clue 2' box.
Reading and explaining the instructions at the top is recommended for the early years, especially if using with Kindergarten. â€‹ Tip: Guide them through each clue to keep the whole class at the same pace.
CHECK OUT A FULL MATH MYSTERY IN THIS 5 W's FORMAT FREE!
I like to offer samples of my work to help you know whether it is something that you are interested in, or if it works for your class.
CLICK HERE to find where to download the 'Case of the Super Bad Superhero' for Kindergarten, using this 5 W's format. If you've found the other math mystery structures too difficult for your students, then you may prefer this alternative. â€‹
Your feedback on this structure would be most appreciated. I will be making more using this 5 W structure for the early years too. If you prefer this format, keep an eye out for the little logo on the cover to know that it follows that format.
If you use Math Mysteries, however hate the amount of paper that is required with all of the photocopying, you may like to try this reusable idea to save paper in the long run.
A bit more prep is required at the start, but then a simple wipe and store away is required for the next time you want to use the case. Items needed:  Copies of the mystery pages (story, suspect list, clue pages, and the optional declaration page). Decide how many copies of a single case you would need at a time.  Laminating pouches + a Laminator  Manila 'Case File' Folders. One folder for each mystery set. Steps:
Now your case files are ready for use!
Complete the mystery using a washable marker as in the image examples below:
Once the mystery is solved, grab a damp cloth or a bit of water on some paper towel/tissues to wipe all of the pages clean.
Let the pages dry and put back into the folder. The mystery is ready to be used again.
While the initial prep for this requires a little bit more effort, the extra step is worth it if you are trying to save on ink and paper in the long run. In the sample images, I used the Math Mystery 'Case of the Super Bad Superhero.' Download this fun Math Mystery resource for FREE HERE!
What is a Math Mystery?
What is a Math Quest?
It begins with a story, both video hook and written versions of the story included in all quest packets. Check out a video hook intro below for 'Raiders of the Lost Egg.' The Video Hook presents the start of the story, designed to set the stage to engage your students. When the video hook ends, is when students must continue the story on the paper part of the activity beginning at 'Chapter 1.'
Access the Video Library to find and freely view all Math Quest Video Hooks. Look for the Math Quests header and click through titles underneath to view.
The rest of the story is a paper and pencil activity that continues in 'chapters.' Each chapter reveals the next part of the story, posing a math task to complete. Once the math task is complete, students may progress to the next chapter. See a sample page below from 'Redbeard's Rebellion'  Chapter 2  'Medium' Level Version.
Each chapter will pose a different type of math challenge, involving one or a mix of skills. I've tried my best to set these pages up to make checking answers quick and easy for the teacher. For example, in the image above, the teacher would need to check if the student chose the correct direction. Also, the added totals for each wheel will give a better indication whether the student just 'guessed' or did the calculations correctly.
PLEASE NOTE:
Sample Page  CHAPTER 2 EASY LEVEL from
'ESCAPE MONSTER MANSION'
There are lots of different ways these chapters are presented to keep students interested and challenged.
The final chapter of each Math Quest will present some choices for actions to take in the story. Students make their choice and then complete the math in that section, carrying out instructions to receive a 'special number.' If they do the math correctly, the special number will match up to their ending of the story on the final page. Four alternate endings to receive! See sample below: Final Chapter from 'The Heartless Queen' HARD LEVEL
The 'NUMBER TOTAL' in their box chosen is a special number that they will need to use on the next page to discover their story ending. If they cannot find their special number, then they know they've made an error and must go over their calculations again.
You would need to keep the story ending page hidden until a student has their special number ready. Suggestion: You could hide the endings page in an envelope and ask students only to go and check once they have a special number ready.
Sample Endings page from'The Terrible Turkey Take Over.'
As you can see in the sample endings page above, there are little images paired with each paragraph. Like in a game this is the 'item' they receive upon completing the quest (image only).
If students want to go back to achieve a different ending, you could allow that as long as they complete the math in the box for it.
There are early finisher worksheets included with each packet. Students can continue the quest fun with these simple extra activities while waiting for others to finish. Please see a sample below from 'School Jungle Jam.'
What DO I USE MATH QUESTS FOR?
Math quests are great to use for:
Preparation and SetUp
Differentiation Options
You may have noticed that I marked the sample pages with 'EASY' 'MEDIUM' and 'HARD.' That is because each Math Quest is available in three modes of difficulty. The story is the same, but the math and puzzle difficulty changes.
You can differentiate this activity in your class by giving out different levels of the same quest. The chapters are interchangeable, which means you can adjust the difficulty for certain chapters. See example below from 'Reindeer Roundup  Chapter 1.'
There is nowhere marked on a student page easy, medium, or hard. So, unless you tell them, your students won't know what level they have. The pages are 'symbol' coded so that only teachers know what the level of difficulty is.
If you own the differentiated bundle of a math quest, you will have all the levels available for that quest ready to pick and swap as you wish. Otherwise, individual levels are available for separate purchase. Math Quest  OVER THE RAINBOW FLASH FREEBIE!!!
As promised at the start of this post, I'd make a full differentiated Math Quest FREE for ONE WEEK! Don't miss out on a chance to download 'OVER THE RAINBOW' and try a Math Quest out to see if you and your students like this type of activity. All three levels are included within the differentiated packet so that you can also try 'swapping' chapters.
Because of the leprechaun and pot of gold theme, 'Over the Rainbow' can be incorporated with a St. Patrick's Day theme. However, this is still fine to use any time of the year, especially at the end of the year. So print, copy, and there's a fun activity you can do with your class tomorrow. Your feedback on this resource would be appreciated. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS RESOURCE. Please note: After one week, the price of this product will return to $7.95 Did you like this Math Quest?
If you like this product, you may wish to bundle and save with the COMPLETE MATH QUEST BUNDLE below. All levels are included at a super discounted price.

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AuthorA 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife. This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies. Opt Out of Cookies 
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