Addition Detectives - Simply Creative Teaching

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Hi everyone!

I’m so excited to share with you one of my newest products that I’ve just released. Let me start with how I came up with idea. And I’ll be honest — it was not cute. No clipart. No real theme. Just pure content and high levels of thinking for the small group of kiddos I was working with. That’s what’s important anyway!

I came up with the idea when I was working with a small group of my first graders. It was the end of the year and I wanted to make sure we were using up every second we had with valuable instruction. And let’s be real… At the end of the year, it better super engaging or these kids are not going to want to have anything to do with it. So I decided to turn everything into CHALLENGES. I chose activities where if they completed it correctly, they got to “level up” and move on to the next challenge.

And really… the activities were extensions of things we’d previously worked on in the year, but whatever. You tell the kids there are challenges and levels involved and they’re on board.

So anyway, one day they had to use a given set of numbers to make addition sentences. For example, if I gave them the numbers 4, 7, and 3, they would make 4 + 3 = 7. For some kiddos, it was more difficult. I’d give them something like: 2, 2, 5, 9, 4 and they’d make 25 + 4 = 29.

But seriously. When I did it with them, I had index cards cut into small squares where I wrote numbers on them and addition, subtraction, and equal signs. Some kids were ready for more challenging problems, so I just kept cutting up more cards than I had planned on using! Let’s be honest: Real Life Isn’t Always Laminated! (click for the blog post from Blair Turner).

Now, when I did the activity with my small groups, it was a bit chaotic because I had squares of paper ALL OVER MY CARPET. So that’s when my lightbulb went off — JUST MAKE IT. AND GO ALL OUT WITH THE THEME AND THE KIDS WILL LOVE IT. So here you have…

The idea is simple: students still use number cards to make addition sentences true. With the product, I made four different levels, so as they complete one level, they move up to a more difficult level. Each level begins with a mystery like the one below.

 These little intros to the four mysteries just add an element of engagement. 🙂 Once students complete the ten problems, they can read the card that tells how the mystery was solved.
Students use fingerprint number cards to move around and make addition sentences true. The problems shown below are from level one (addition to 10).

If students are struggling with a problem, they can pull out the TOP SECRET FILES (aka – CLUES for those friends that may need a bit of direction).

These clues will tell them where ONE of the numbers in the addition sentence is located. Included in the product is also a recording sheet for them to record the addition sentences they make. Once they complete a level, they can color in the thumbprint on their DETECTIVE ID card.

When they complete all four levels, you can reward with a CERTIFICATE!