I developed math mysteries to be versatile in their use. After being in a teaching role that involved seeing 220 different kids a week across K-6, I initially made this math mystery range to be something that I could quickly prepare, engage, teach, be mostly self-correcting, and quick to pack up before heading onto the next classroom.. So, if you've seen these math mysteries and ever wondered what you can use them for, keep on reading.
1. CONSOLIDATION ACTIVITY
I mainly used math mysteries as a consolidation activity, paced clue by clue, especially if we had to learn something new.
I usually do a lesson on the math concept before handing out the clue worksheet. After the instructional part of the lesson, the students are assigned the matching clue worksheet as a consolidation task. During the activity time, I can easily see if students are getting the math skill by their ability to work through the problems of the worksheet. If they get the clue correct, I know we can move forward. If they struggled with the worksheet, I know that I must plan to go over that skill in our next lesson and pause before moving forward to another clue.
For the holiday-themed math mysteries, I use this as an opportunity to spiral review different skills. This may mean mini-instructional lessons or tutorials followed by the clue worksheet. Assessing how the class is managing the skills, we can turn up the speed on working through the clues, or slow it down if we need to re-visit learning certain concepts.
2. REVIEW SESSIONS
Math mysteries are a unique way to do some important math review. At the end of a unit, on Fridays, as part of your test-prep, or during a holiday season, use a math mystery packet to spiral review! Using the math mysteries this way can be a great option for assessing any areas of strengths and weaknesses. Set the task paced either clue by clue to keep the class together, or make it a competition to see who can solve the case first!
3. EARLY FINISHER TASK
Prepare these math mystery case files in a folder or booklet for students to keep and work on whenever they finish their other work early. Keep in mind that students MUST complete the clues in the order 1 - 5. If you think that your students will skip around clues, hold back the possible suspects list until they have unlocked all five clues.
You may also like to increase motivation and reward your student detectives with this free mystery rank chart.
Set up a Math Mystery early finisher station for students to collect a case file from. Decorate it with some cool detective items like binoculars, sunglasses, etc.
4. MATH CENTERS
Set a table with some magnifying glasses, binoculars, detective badges, hats, and any other cool spy items you can get your hands on to set the scene. If using the video hook, set up the video on a tablet for viewing with an instruction to watch first. If able to, add any math manipulatives to the table that will help students with the worksheet/s assigned. Set a single clue to be completed per rotation. If the work is too much, an option to resolve this is to get the group to work as a team to solve the clue together by sharing the math problems. Set a different clue for each rotation, or make a single math mystery rotation and stretch it to one clue per day for the week (there are always five clues in each case file).
5. THE SUB-TUB
The last thing you want to do is a bunch of lesson plans and prep when you are sick. I get it, sometimes it is easier to go to work sick than to take a sick day off, right? But, your health is important and these math mysteries are so easy to prep and simple to follow that if you have these on stand-by for a sick day, the substitute teacher will be able to have an activity that will engage and educate your kids during the day. No need to start writing lesson plans or searching through the Internet when all you need to do is rest.
Instead of giving your students the same old boring text book math pages or worksheets to complete, assign them a math mystery for homework! Either set a clue per day or week, or give them all five pages to work on by a due date. It's the same old math, but dressed with some mystery fun. As part of your checking process, on the due date, you can work through the elimination process in class to solve the mystery! Students must have unlocked all five clues to participate in this final process of solving the case.
Believe it or not, you can also use math mysteries as an assessment for and of learning. You can either:
There are so many math mysteries in this range, and they all work the same. Once your students get the hang of one, it's really as easy as print and go because your students will know what to do the next time.
Try a math mystery for FREE and see how it works for your class. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to help with any questions. I truly hope that you, and your students benefit from these resources.
A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.
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