# Mystery Worlds

## What is a Mystery?

A mystery is a thinking skills activity, with children working collaboratively to solve a problem from items of information, presented on individual cards.
Mystery Worlds are sets of contextual mysteries, designed to encourage group problem-solving and mathematical thinking. Each set contains three large backdrop boards showing colourful scenes based on different themes and four sets of mystery cards for each backdrop, each containing six clue cards and one question card. A bank of problems and investigations, all linked to the overall theme, are also set out on each backdrop.

### What are the benefits of using Mysteries?

Reasoning and problem solving are two of the three main aims of the 2014 National Curriculum. Encouraging the use of reasoning, problem-solving and enquiry skills through these mathematical activities can support the development of higher order thinking skills.

The five levels of Mystery Worlds are aimed at primary children from age 7 to 11. The Mystery World problems and investigations offer a range of different challenges involving calculation, money, measures, time, patterns and shape – all set within an interesting context for the group to immerse themselves in. Two types of problems - ‘finding all possibilities’ and ‘logic’ are particularly developed in the mystery card sets.

Teachers can model and teach strategies to solve these two types of problems before the children attempt them as a group, or, alternatively, each group has a go and then discusses the methods, finding the most efficient ones for each problem.

These are intended to be challenging problems, with answers that are not obvious and methods that involve a lot of thought. The mathematics is often easy, but higher order thinking is used and developed. These Mystery Worlds offer motivating and creative activities for children to work collaboratively, overcome challenges and develop as creative problem-solvers.

Year 5: At the fairground
Year 3: Sports -  SET 1 Which sport did each person play?

### How do you use them?

• Choose the theme you wish to focus on and ask a group of 3 to 6 children to set up the background screen on a table.

• Choose one of the mystery sets of 7 cards from the theme (matching number of dots in top corner of each card) and each child has one or more of the cards.

• The child with the question card reads it out and they all then use the other 6 clue cards to answer the mystery.

• The 6 slots in the centre of the background screen are to display the 6 clue cards. Use it as a simplified ‘diamond ranking’ tool, ranging from the most useful card at the top to the least useful at the bottom.
• Children are encouraged to use resources such as cubes, counters, coins… and paper and pencils to help solve the problems.

• Once they have solved the mystery, the group can choose one of the problems or investigations on the back of the screen. Each group in the class has a go at the mystery, followed by a class discussion about the methods used to solve the problem.

### ORDER HERE

There are 4 sets of mystery cards for each topic area, giving 12 mysteries in total - enough for two every half-term.
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