Where did Mind Boggling Math Come From?
Back five or six years ago, I was searching for an activity that I could have available in my classroom for students to do at a variety of times:
- If they finished work early.
- Or if I needed a math station.
- If I wanted students to work on a challenge so I could pull small groups
The problem I ran into was that my students just weren’t independent enough early on to read a lot of directions or do complicated problem-solving. (Mind boggling, right?) I kept thinking, “What if I could create a challenge where the only math “skill” they needed was addition (most of my students come in with a decent foundation in this) but they had to APPLY it in more challenging ways. I figured there would be bonus points if students could work together, have to persevere, use estimation, and so on.
And this is how “Mind Boggling Math” was born! I like to keep it displayed in my room all year and change the numbers depending on the level of challenge (check out the bottom of the post for details). Here is how my board looks currently–though I am considering reprinting the numbers in a new color to shake things up!
So let me tell you a little more.
Higher Level Problem Solving and Math Enrichment
Truth be told, I had seen lots of teachers do different versions of Boggle boards in their classrooms–with both letters and numbers. I hadn’t seen it done in a way I felt would work with my class. Like I said, what I REALLY wanted was a way for students to be challenged with different topics we were studying if they finished early, to use as a center, or to push their thinking. In other words–I wanted it to be useful more than just one time and I didn’t want it to be busy work!
Standards for Mathematical Practice in Action!
What I created is an enrichment board that has 6 different challenges that can be done with it, and the challenges can be done in partners or solo. I hear some of the greatest discussions when they are working together…they are justifying their thinking, critiquing reasoning, estimating, and more! For this first set of challenges, students will be reviewing addition of three-digit numbers, but with a problem-solving twist! Here is page one of one of the activities . . . I think you can see how this is NOT your ordinary computation practice! Students have to work at a much higher level of cognitive demand and focus–and they have to demonstrate perseverance, focus, and determination–those math practices we value so much!
Each of the 6 activities is two pages long. Page 1 gets them working on a skill (like estimating) and then page 2 asks them to apply it in a more open-ended way. I am SUPER excited to see how my top math kiddos handle it! I think I’m going to make a folder system where each challenge gets a folder. Some students might do one–others might do all 6. In addition, I created a set of 5 additional “Mind Boggling” boards so that you can change the numbers out if you wish! We start the year with an addition review, so this is going to be a perfect complement.
Three Great Mind Boggling Options
What I really love is that I have now added two other versions due to popular demand! Now check out the TWO DIGIT version and a money/decimals version. The letters to spell “Mind Boggling Math” are included as well if you want to create a bulletin board. This is an option because EVERYTHING the students need is on the challenge pages. You do not have to have a permanent area in your classroom.
I have gotten SO much use out of this activty and wanted to share it with you. If you are interested in checking these “Mind Boggling Math” resources, click the images below to see!
NEW! Digital Components! My original “Mind Boggling” resource now has all 10 challenges available digitally as well, ready for use with Google Classroom or other online sources!