Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mystery Mania & a FREEBIE

The last day of school can be a real problem if you don’t have something for your kiddos to do. Trust me, I found this out the hard way. At our school, we have early out on the last day of school. I love to have my kiddos help me clean and organize, so I’m not there until the late hours of the night. Even my first graders can be seriously helpful with some direction, but this can only go on for so long before I have kids running around and acting like crazies!
To prevent the craziness, I love to take my kiddos outside for the first half of the day and do what I call “Mystery Mania.” I start by dividing my kids into nine groups, for the nine “stations” where the students will be solving mysteries. Do the math ahead of time, so when you divide your kiddos up there is only one group at a station at a time. I then print out the cards with the letters A-I and tape them to dowels or skewers. This makes it so I can stick the cards in the ground. Going outside adds a whole other level of excitement to this activity, since it is something out of the norm.
Before heading outside the students will need a pencil, a student paper, and something hard to put under their papers. Then, have your kiddos line up with their groups. Don’t forget to bring the cards attached to the dowels/skewers! Explain to your kiddos that they will be detectives and you need their help solving 9 different mysteries. Each time they think they have solved the mystery, they must bring their paper to you with the solution. I only will check papers if the entire group comes to me at the same time. If the students get the answer correct, I will initial/stamp in the box. If they don’t, I will send them back to try it again. Some students start to get frustrated at the trickier stations, so I tell them to move on and come back to it.

Next, we head outside and I put the cards in the ground. I put them quite far apart, so the students can’t hear each other talking. I remind them that it is a competition, so they will want to keep their ideas within their group.

I will tell you that for my firsties, some of these mysteries are a challenge, but if they persevere, they soon think of the answers. I also encourage the students to talk through their thinking because it tends to spark ideas in their other group members, and they eventually find the answer.
This usually takes us a few hours and challenges my kiddos while being engaging at the same time. When I taught third grade, I did this same activity; and I will tell you, my first graders knock those third graders out of the park. They are so dang smart, it amazes me.
If you’re looking for an activity to do with your class during the end of the school year, try this out, because I’ve made it a FREEBIE just for you! Please let me know what you think, or if you have any questions. For those of you who are out of school, enjoy your summer. For those who are blessed to still be teaching, add this to your repertoire of end of the year activities. Happy Mystery Solving!

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