Today I needed something to get the kids excited, so my class bear disappeared again. He does this now and then and usually leaves a letter with hints as to his whereabouts, but this time I tried something a bit different. I came up with a sentence that had exactly 26 characters, then wrote out the sentence letter by letter on colorful cards. On the back of each card I wrote a name and a math problem to solve, tailored to that specific child’s ability level, with the answers in order from 1 to 26. Then I put the cards in a little clear box and set the box on the bear’s desk, with a “Do not open until after lunch” note.
The kids were WILD to open that box! Once I did, I was just terribly confused about the cards inside…what could they mean? Well, they had names on them….the kids couldn’t wait to get their own card. Then we brainstormed. The first idea was that the cards were the alphabet and should go in order. So we tried this but almost immediately everyone realized that we were missing some letters and had doubles of others. That wasn’t it!
Next, the students decided that the letters must make words, so we spent a few minutes trying to rearrange our letters. Some groups came up with several words but nothing that told us where the bear went. Hmmm.
Just when I was about to hint that hey, there are MATH problems on the cards, maybe that had something to do with it, one student suddenly shrieked out that HIS math problem’s answer was 12, his friend’s was 13, and another friend’s was 14… quick everyone, solve your math problem!
They were thrilled, just thrilled, when we got the letters in order by number and it made a sentence! Leo the bear was in the office! We marched down there and the kind secretaries returned him (apparently he had been most helpful all morning).
Once we returned to the room, the students spent the rest of math time creating their own codes, and boy did some of them come up with some pretty complicated equations. This was so much fun, and just what I needed today…I was so pleased with their problem-solving, and I can’t wait to do it again with a different code!