This post originally appeared on the blog Paula’s Primary Classroom.
My students love mystery pictures. No, not just a little bit. They really LOVE mystery pictures. Do yours? I’m all for anything that motivates my students to do skills practice, so I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve figured out along our learning journey.
1. For our youngest learners, reading the color words can be a challenge – so start out by looking at the puzzle as a group, and have the children color over the words with a matching pencil or crayon. This also ensures that they HAVE the matching color, and know where it is.
2. Keeping track of which spaces you’ve colored can be tricky, especially if there’s a long list of numbers. I teach my students to color one space, then cross out the corresponding clue before going on to the next one. They can even pick up where they left off after a break, because they can see exactly which clue to tackle next.
3. Do you have a young perfectionist on your hands, the child that always turns in picture perfect work, but takes f o r e v e r to complete anything? This trick will help you both stay sane: teach your children to mark the color for each space, but not to color it thoroughly right away. A quick scribble scrabble in each space will allow them to see how far each color extends, and to color the whole picture at once, rather than one space at a time.
I prefer to color one direction (for me, that’s up and down)…
…and then to touch up the unfinished top and bottom with some sideways coloring afterwards. It neatens everything up.
4. Those tricky edges! You don’t have to slow down to color all the way to the lines if you put your finger along the line and use it to stop your pencil.
5. Of course, you want to find puzzles with the right level of challenge for your students. We all know that you’ll never ever have a class with everyone at the exact same learning level, so you’ll need to differentiate. My hundreds charts mystery pictures come with 3 skill levels for each puzzle, so it’s easy to find one that’s just right. The ladybug mystery picture in these photos is a level (a) puzzle: the hundreds chart is numbered, there are clues for the picture itself, but no background (so fewer spaces to color), and the text is a little bigger. Level (b) puzzles include a numbered hundreds chart with clues for all 100 spaces, and regular sized text, while level (c) puzzles come on a blank hundreds chart, so students have to fill that in before solving 100 clues.
6. You don’t have to limit mystery pictures skills practice to numbers! You can find puzzles for letters…
7. If coloring this much is an issue, or if your class is just beginning to work on numbers to 100, try doing hundreds chart mystery pictures in your pocket chart!
Not sure where to start? How about some FREE RESOURCES?
Paula Beckerman is a TpT Teacher-Author and early childhood educator who has been working with children since 1993. She believes learning is exciting, and loves to teach and learn with hands on activities. When she isn’t creating resources for TpT, she volunteers at her local library story time. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or visit her blog Paula’s Primary Classroom for more teaching ideas!