Mysteries to support critical thinking

mystery detective Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun

Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal.  I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and  I shared with them a few mysteries to solve.  It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.

The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious.  The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.

Steps to Solve:

  1. Read the story slowly.
  2. If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
  3. Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
    • Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
    • What tricks could be in the story?
    • Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
    • Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
    • Something about the setting? (weather, time)

Mystery Stories

  1. In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
  2. A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
  3. Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested.  How could that be?
  4. There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
  5. Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.

Clues:

  1. Friday is not a day of the week
  2. Some careers have both men and women employed
  3. Howard is not a man
  4. Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
  5. The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.

Answers:  (You asked for it, here they are) 

  1. Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
  2. The surgeon is the boys mother.
  3. Howard is a fish.  He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
  4. The items were the remains of a melted snowman.
  5. The man with a mask is a catcher at home plate.

Other posts related to this topic

Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October   

Library Suggestions for Preschool Classrooms

September and the start of school has always inspired me to buy new school supplies. Recently, I found the 101 Best Book List created by researchers at the Curry School of Education which is a great list to start your classroom library. The choices are based on readability, length and including different types of genres.

Books don’t have to be new to be enjoyed  Because books are expensive  start your search at garage sales, books sales and used book sales at your local library.  Dutchess County friends, take a road trip to the Poughkeepsie Library on Boardman Road. Their bookstore has great buys.  I recently bought 10 Early Reading (Levels 1 and 2) books for $2.64.  That’s 25 cents a book! It’s clean, organized and a friendly group of volunteers.  Worth a visit.  http://poklib.org/friends-of-ppld/book-store/

I have retyped this list to make it user-friendly when shopping for books.  Happy Shopping!    kids and library books

booklist

Highly-abled students need attention too!

magnigying glass Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled.  At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area.  At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability.  Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.

  1. has an excellent memory
  2. has a large vocabulary
  3. Uses complex sentence structure for their age
  4. reads earlier than peers
  5. enjoys problem-solving
  6. demonstrates logical thinking
  7. concerned with social and political issues
  8. asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
  9. has original ideas
  10. enjoys and initiates own learning
  11. is organized
  12. can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
  13. tends to be persistent and motivated
  14. can be impatient and intolerant
  15. has a wide range of interests
  16. may have an extreme focus in one interest
  17. has a deep knowledge base
  18. often highly sensitive
  19. has sophisticated sense of humor
  20. transfers learning to new situations
  21. makes connections between different activities and ideas
  22. works well independently
  23. enjoys spending time with  older students or adults

(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)

Reading, Writing and Preschool? Oh MY!

As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a Reading presentation that I gave last year to the Astor Education committee.  preschool reading

The presentation outlines the importance of literacy in  Childhood Education.  It includes both research and strategies to include in literacy instruction.  The differences between phonological and phonemic awareness is highlighted.  The pros and cons of the Common Core standards is also included for discussion.

Other posts you might find helpful 

phonological-and-phonemic-awareness-6 (8)

Early Literacy and Common Core in Preschool: How Do they Fit Together in Our Classrooms?

As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a presentation that I prepared for the Astor Education Committee in May, 2017.

ed-committee-may-23 (3)

Numeracy in Early Childhood

Many preschool students understand numeracy.  However, they probably don’t know the vocabulary. Creative Curriculum gives teachers many new terms to use.  The “Go slow to go fast: Learning about math is neither short-term nor rote” presentation reminds teachers that learning takes time.

Thank you Astor friends for inviting me to your Professional Development Day.

Link: Astor Math Key Note 9-14-18

Creative Curriculum Math: https://teachingstrategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/TS-CC-Research-Foundation-Math_11-2013.pdf

Support for Special Education and ELL’s

Support is essential for every child but especially for students with special needs. Because teachers have classrooms filled with students that have many different needs, information is valuable to the learning process.  Parents can help teachers by providing information about their child  that supports their child’s learning.  This communication helps to build a good parent-teacher relationship.

Understood.org- FREE Special Education Resource

Understood.org  provides parents of kids ages 3–20  with learning  issues a free, secure access to personalized information.  Supports are included from experts as well as other parents to help ELL students in the classroom. As a result the site supports a common language for parent/teacher conversations.

https://www.understood.org/en 

Colorín Colorado- FREE ELL Resource

A website that supports teachers and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado has been providing free information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country for more than a decade.

http://www.colorincolorado.org/about

What sites do you use as a resource to help support parent/teacher partnerships? Please share your websites in the comments section!

Books Before Kindergarten: 1000?

Is  reading to young children important to you?  If your answer is YES!, perhaps the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program is a good goal for parents and preschool teachers. 

Research shows that as many as one in five children have trouble learning to read. As a result, reading has been linked to academic success. Unfortunately, formal school does not usually start until ages 5-6.  Therefore, parents and preschool teachers take on the important role of being first teachers to children. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenges parents and preschool teachers to read 1000 books to young children before they enter Kindergarten.

Take a look: https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/

Preschool Teachers: Like the program? Let’s talk and find some grants.

Contact me at: https://threeringsconnections.org

Math Enrichment Problems: Jan. Grades 2-3

Math Enrichment Problems

Welcome to the 2nd month of threeringsconnections.org  Monthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies

  1. Draw a picture
  2. Guess and Check
  3. Use a table or list
  4. Find a pattern
  5. Logical reasoning
  6. Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. On a baseball team, Chris, Jerry and Matt each played one of three positions of pitcher, catcher and second baseman, though not necessarily in that order. The second baseman, playing his first season with the team, had the lowest salary.  Chris, who along with Jerry had played two seasons with this team, earned more than the pitcher.  Who was the pitcher?
  2. Declan wants to swim 20 yards out into the ocean. He swims out 5 yards in 4 seconds but then in one second a wave pushes him back 2 yards. If this cycle continues, how long will it take Declan to get 20 yards out for the first time, even if only for an instant?
  3. A group of 63 students went to the museum. Some students took the bus, the rest went by car. If 41 students took the bus and 3 students rode in each car, then how many cars were needed?
  4. Lowyn likes to celebrate her birthday for a whole week. On the first day she eats one cookie.  On the second day she eats 2 cookies. This continues on until the seventh day when she eats 7 cookies. How many cookies did Lowyn eat that week?
  5. Doug spent $44 This is twice as much as Kelly and Marian spent together.  Kelly spent $9.  How much did Marian spend?
  6. 61 + 12 = __ – 7   Find the number that belongs on the line.
  7. If 40 – 6 = Q, how much is 45 + Q

Answers:

  1. Matt is the pitcher.  Neither Chris nor Jerry played second base (it wasn’t their first season).  Matt played second base. Chris earned more than the pitcher so he’s not the pitcher, Matt is.
  2. The answer is 29.  Every 5 seconds he gains 3 yards. After 25 seconds he is 15 yards out. In 4 more seconds he will be 20 yards out for the first time (even if only for an instant).
  3. The answer is 8.  63-41=22.  If 3 students traveled in each car, there were 8 cars.   7 cars had 3 students for 21 total and an 8th car was needed for the 22nd student.
  4. The answer is 28.  1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28
  5. The answer is $13.  Half of $44 is $22.  Since Kelly spent $9, then Marian had to spend $13 to equal $22.
  6. 80 goes on the line.      61 + 12 = 73   and 80 – 7 = 73
  7. Q = 79.

Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems 

Other posts related to this topic

Math Enrichment Problems: Dec. Grades 2-3   December 15, 2018

Math Enrichment: How To Encourage?  December 13, 2018

Enrichment in Class? Is Your Child Being Challenged?  December 4, 2018

Highly-abled students need attention too!  September 17, 2018