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The Benefits of Whodunnit?! Challenges

Each time I tell my students we are going to do a Whodunnit challenge, they are so excited! That's a lot of happy math classes throughout the year! As much as every teacher loves happy students, the benefits of incorporating critical thinking skills into your curriculum lessons will convince you to use one in your classroom.


Whodunnit challenges are a fun and engaging way to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills in the classroom. These challenges involve presenting students with a mystery to solve, typically involving a fictional crime or puzzle that they must piece together through clues and evidence.


Here are some reasons why you might consider using Whodunnit?! challenges in your classroom:


1. Engaging and Motivating Whodunnit challenges are a fun and interactive way to engage students in the learning process. They provide a break from traditional classroom activities and help to motivate students to participate and work together.


2. Promote Critical Thinking

Whodunnit challenges require students to think critically about the evidence presented to them, to analyze and interpret the information, and to draw conclusions based on the available facts.

3. Develop Problem-Solving Skills

Whodunnit challenges require students to solve complex problems using logic, reasoning, and deduction. They provide an opportunity for students to develop problem-solving skills in a collaborative and supportive environment.


4. Foster Teamwork

Whodunnit challenges promote teamwork and collaboration as students work together to solve the mystery. They provide an opportunity for students to develop social and interpersonal skills while working towards a common goal.



My Whodunnit?! math puzzles are very popular in upper elementary classrooms!


With each puzzle, I create a unique theme. I always choose a theme for my Whodunnit?! challenge that is appropriate for our students age and interests. It could be a theft, an arson, a treasure hunt or any other theme that captures their imagination (but never a violent crime).


I also love holiday themes and have a Whodunnit?! puzzle ready to go for each holiday throughout the school year that includes key skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing so I don't have to worry if my students have learned the skill - it's all review!


The clues and evidence are challenging but not too difficult for your students to solve. I always make sure that the clues and evidence are related to the theme and are presented logically and coherently.


When it is time to do the activity, have fun with it! Set up the challenge by presenting the students with the mystery and providing them with the initial clues and evidence. Play some fun detective style or mystery music. There are many options to choose from on YouTube, but here are some of my favorites. I play the Pink Panther soundtrack while I explain the mystery and the sneaky and suspenseful background music while they are working.


These activities are meant to be engaging and motivating and foster teamwork. I always encourage my students to work together and share their findings!

Ready to give it a try?


One of my most popular Whodunnit?! challenges is a place value puzzle called "Mystery at the Match" and your students will love it! More importantly - you will love it because it checks all the boxes you have including:

- print and digital options

- digital option has two versions that are differentiated for your student's needs

- option to add student names for additional engagement! My students love seeing their names in the puzzles and beg to be included the next time!


Comment below if you have any questions or ideas! I love collaborating with teachers!


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