Teaching in December is hard! I know, I'm preaching to the choir, but boy oh boy! Competing with the possible first snow, Christmas lists, their elf on the shelves, and Santa is nearly impossible! The kids are checked out, and where I teach the students have 20 days of instruction in December. So as much as I'd like to just say let's just try to get through December, why not use those things that distract our students--and use them for our advantage!

So in our 2nd grade classroom, we have an elf. Our elf is named Lucie. I teach math and science and my counter-part teaches reading and writing, and her elf is Tinsel. This past Thursday, our elves went missing and left this envelope for the students--you can get your copy here! The students were upset that Lucie and Tinsel were not there for the day, but were super EAGER to find out exactly what these riddles the elves left them were all about!

So each riddle has a it's own printable for the students to show their work. For the example shown in these pictures above--the riddle is "What kind of music do elves like best?" The answer is "wrap music"-which is 9 letters. So the students have 9 clues a.k.a. task cards with math problems to solve. Once all the task cards or math problems are solved, they use their CRACK THE CODE- CODE BREAKER to see which letters are associated with each number. This also helps children go back and check their work if their answer doesn't make sense! I had a student say, Mrs. Ebersole, this answer to the riddle doesn't make sense, and I said well the letter that doesn't fit MUST BE WRONG!! Go check your work!!

So I didn't want all my kiddos working on the same riddle, because, well naturally 2nd graders tend to cheat! So I got a little creative with it! I had 7 total elf riddles. I partnered my students with purposeful partners (a higher level students with a lower level student). Each riddle I made a red and green set. So like for the example above--I had a red group and a green group working on What kind of music do elves like best. They were competing against each other to correctly solve the problems in the fastest time. Each elf riddle was differentiated as well. The easiest had 8 problems to solve, or 9, or 10, 11, 12, or 23 (which was the hardest and took those students over an hour to solve all the problems). And then I had all the green teams together, tracking their total times and all the red teams total together tracking their time. When we were finished, the partnership that had the fastest time got to pick a GoNoodle brainbreak, and then the winning team (the green team) all got an extra sticker for their sticker charts (these are our classroom economy system that works for us!)
For being the middle of December, I have to say I was super excited with how well this activity went! The students were super engaged and LOVED the riddles! All the math talk that was happening was so awesome as well!! You can download a PREVIEW with 2 Elf Riddles---FREEBIE ELF RIDDLES or you can get the complete set:

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