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Math. You either love it or hate it, but there never seems to be much of an an in-between. We have a bit of a hate relationship with it in our house. But we are working on that. One thing I do to try and make math more interesting, is to find creative ways to teach it. We have used a few different fun things that the kids have enjoyed. This past month we got to try out a program called Math Mysteries: Crimes, Capers and Whodunits. Math Mysteries is a series of five interactive mysteries designed to teach math at the 6th grade level. (It does integrate Common Core Standards.) They can be purchased as a set or individually.
How Math Mysteries Works:
Each of the different mysteries are on a DVD (11 minutes long) and teach a variety of math skills including: Ratios and Proportional Relationships, The Number System, Expressions and Equations, Geometry, Statistics and Probability. This is a great way to review or enrich curriculum that you are already using. To use it, you begin by watching the DVD with they mystery. The DVD’s include a background story given by the Pi Detective Agency, interviews with possible suspects, and a solution.
There is a teacher’s manual with lesson plans or “investigations” that give step-by-step instructions on how to teach the math needed to solve the mysteries. This book also includes copies of the Student Investigation Workbook. It is all in a 3-ring-binder, so you can easily remove pages to copy for your students. The student pages have problems to solve and a place to calculate and take notes on their ideas. There is also a Case File that includes evidence and clues for all of the mysteries as well as transcripts from the videos.
The five mysteries in the set are:
The Cookie Factory Mystery: Someone has sabotaged Charlene Strawberry’s secret cookie recipe and made the cookies taste like dog food! Students need to understand ratios and proportional relationships to be able to solve this mystery.
Peterson’s Last Challenge: When Gabe Peterson died, he left videotaped instructions promising gobs of money to the first person to correctly identify the name of Peterson’s favorite dog. Student sleuths need to unravel tricky clues using the number system if they want a shot at his Peterson’s millions.
Lord Symington’s Castle: Lord Symington hid a fortune in diamonds and gold somewhere in his huge castle. He left clues to the whereabouts of his fortune in the form of mathematical riddles. Students must apply their knowledge of expressions and equations to get straight to the heart of the matter and find the goods.
The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove: Captain Jack has buried a treasure on Bell Harbor Island. There’s a map (but what does it mean?) and other clues, including a stolen sextant, shifty stories from old-time treasure hunters, and a talking parrot. Students need to apply their geometry skills to bring this case to a close.
The Clown Capers: Someone cleverly disguised as a clown has been covering the city in graffiti and making a mess. Security cameras have caught the culprit on video, but it’s awfully hard to make a positive ID of someone in a clown costume. To unravel the clues and catch that clown, they need to utilize statistics and probability, plus their critical thinking skills.
After you watch the DVD, you show them the Case File and complete the different investigations with the kids. They will work on their solutions. When they think they have solved the mystery, you can show the solution part of the movie. The teacher guide gives all of the solutions to the problems and ways to help you walk your students through the lessons.
Our Thoughts on Math Mysteries:
My kids and I had a lot of fun working through these mysteries. The math is at a 6th grade level, but I was able to walk through it with my 5th grader and help him solve it. While the math is harder, the mysteries are still fun to watch and try to solve at any age! Three of my kids really liked watching them. The product is well made and the worksheets and teacher manual are very helpful.
I was thinking this would be a really fun curriculum to use in our homeschool co-op. I would love to do it in a group setting and see how the different kids respond to it. The only thing that would hold me back from purchasing this curriculum would be the cost at $249.95.