Over at 3-6 Free Resources I was reading about Ms. Fultz's educational time fillers. We all have minutes in the day when we are finished a lesson quickly, or an assembly finishes early or we just want a change of pace. A few years ago I discovered that having the game Mindtrap in my classroom is a lifesaver! This game consists of over 500 classic puzzles, murder mysteries, conundrums and trick questions that will challenge the way your students think!
Here's how I use it in my classroom:
I assign the students to two (or more) relatively even teams. (I use the old "Popsicle stick method" to do this quickly). I allow the students to use dry erase boards (I bought at the local dollarama for $1 each!) to record information and questions they want to ask. The questions can ONLY be answered with a YES OR NO. I read aloud the question and the students (in teams) must solve it. I give them a few minutes in their teams to come up with ONLY questions first. They may NOT try to solve the mystery until I decide they have explored the questioning enough. You will be the judge of how much is "enough".
The students will encounter questions that look so easy, they will jump at the answer. I don't let them just blurt it out! They have to question! What they think is a clue is sometimes really a trap. Sometimes they will confront the type of "head scratcher" that appears impossible to solve. It seems there just isn't enough information to go on -- until they hear the answer. Then they will realize they overlooked the obvious and it was easy after all.
Students find much of the fun is watching the other team struggle with a question while they think they know the painfully obvious answer. Each team asks questions that can be answered "yes" or "no," clearly narrowing in on the solution, until suddenly they are hit with the "aha!" as it clicks into place.
At this point I have the team give ONE answer...they cannot shout out multiple answers. They must come to consensus prior to answering.
Sometimes we get through a few questions in 10-15 minutes other times, we have to come back to the mystery later.
THE KIDS LOVE IT!
Sample Question: If a daddy bull weighs 1,200 pounds and eats twelve bales of hay each day, and a baby bull, who weighs 300 pounds eats three bales of hay each day, how much hay then should a mommy bull eat if she weighs 800 pounds? ANSWER: There's no such thing as a mommy bull.