One of the biggest challenges with teaching is differentiating within a large class, especially when there is a broad scope of abilities and levels! Once upon a time, I was in a teaching role that involved seeing 220 students a week across K-6! I had to teach different math topics to other groups and wouldn't have much time to prep from class to class. Being the teacher kids only saw once a week for a couple of hours meant that I needed a lesson that would quickly engage them to make the most of our learning time. This teaching experience is why I decided to create Math Mysteries. To differentiate and cater to the different classrooms, I usually designed editions of the same mystery in various grade levels. This post will show you how easy it is to differentiate with my math mystery resources in your classroom. I'll also show you where to grab a full FREE differentiated Math Mystery set to see how it works!
So if a math mystery cover and story title are the same, you will need to match up the same story with other grade level editions to differentiate (if available.)
For example, The Case of the Abducted Alien is available for grades 3, 4, and 5 to review the math skill 'Area Measurement.' As you can see in the images below, the only difference between the covers are the grade levels labeled.
The grade levels marked are guides only. Everyone's curriculum differs, and one class may not necessarily be up to the same skills as another class. Thus, I recommend checking the product description section to list the math skills (see sample image below from the 2nd Grade Edition of The Case of the Jungle Joker).
By the way, I don't mark the grade levels on the student pages, so your kids will never know what grade edition they have.
Decide what you need across the grade levels of a mystery story. For example, let's say I want to do the Fractions Review Math Mystery - The Case of the Forgetful Pharaoh. The 3rd Grade edition is almost what I want, but the 5th clue requires reducing fractions, which is a skill most of my students aren't ready to do yet.
So, I'll check to see if a lower grade level is available for that mystery story.
Yes, there is a 2nd Grade edition, and Clue 5 (Comparing Fractions with like denominators) in that packet would work great as a substitute for the Clue 5 in the 3rd Grade packet.
To adjust the mystery, all I have to do is swap out the original Clue 5 in the 3rd Grade Fractions Math Mystery, with Clue 5 in the 2nd Grade Fractions Math Mystery (both are The Case of the Forgetful Pharaoh). The mystery will still work the same, and the solution will be the same!
The same concept works if you also want to challenge your higher-level students. In this scenario, select substitute clues from higher grade levels (if available). For example, in the Perimeter Math Mystery, the Phantom Phoenix case, I want to assign the 3rd Grade packet to my class, but I have a few students who need it more challenging. To adjust, I'll select substitute clues from the 4th or 5th Grade packs to clue swap with, and the whole mystery will still work the same for the entire class!
See the example from the Case of the Super Bad Superhero below:
Above, you will see the 'Clue 2' worksheet from the Super Bad Superhero Case for Grades 2, 3, and 4. As you can see, the clue will still be the same, but you can differentiate the math component by assigning whichever level suits your students best. Without knowing, give your high-flyers a more challenging substitution of a clue. Your students, who may need a page with more comfortable skills, can be assigned a substitute from a lower grade level pack, and they won't know either (maybe unless they are sitting right next to each other!)
Since the clues and suspect pages are the same from the 2nd Grade and above packs, the suspects' deduction will also work the same way. The 2nd Grade - 8th Grade Math Mysteries show the suspect list in a table format, like in the example below:
The 1st Grade packs and Kindergarten packs are different in the suspect process, which is why these editions cannot be used for 'clue swapping' but can be substituted as a whole if you need to make a mystery easier.
See sample suspect list from a 1st Grade Math Mystery below:
So in the first-grade math mysteries, there are fewer suspects, and all suspects (or places/cures) have images like in the sample from the Case of the Super Bad Superhero mystery above.
The Kindergarten Math Mysteries work in a different format. It follows a 5 W's clue discovery process. See sample images below from a Kindergarten Math Mystery packet:
With the Kindergarten worksheet mystery packs, students will discover a clue per page and will need to cut out the clue image to paste onto their Case file page. There are five clues; each will reveal one of the 5 Ws to piece the puzzle together.
The main things to remember when differentiating with math mysteries:
Whether you need to clue swap to adjust the math on the worksheets, or if you need to simplify the whole mystery, there are lots of options when tailoring these math mystery activities to suit your curriculum, your classroom, and individual student needs.
Grab a FREE Math Mystery below! This differentiated grade bundle contains editions from Kindergarten to 6th Grade to experiment differentiating. The math skills differ in the different mystery titles too. For example, the 6th-grade math in this pack may seem too easy; but I have other math mystery packets available with more challenging math skills.
Would you like to grab more of these Math Mysteries to use in your classroom or homeschool? Browse by grade category below to see what titles are available. I have these packets available to purchase via my website shop and TPT Store.
A 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