• 25-minute musical play for grades 2-6
  • Includes the script, teacher's guide, and audio recording (which contains a vocal and instrumental version of each song)
  • Simple to do - no music or drama experience needed!

This is the story of how Sherlock Holmes became a detective! Well, actually it's the story of how he learned to solve problems, which allowed him to become a detective. Sherlock is terrified of numbers, but in the course of solving a Top Secret mystery, he learns six problem-solving strategies—guess and check, draw a picture, draw a chart, look for a pattern, work backwards, and act it out—plus the four steps to solve any problem. Your students will learn right along with Sherlock and after the show may even choose a career in private detection.

Please scroll down to read the script, listen to the songs, read reviews, and get all the details about the play (plot, curriculum/content, educational standards, and vocabulary).

Item # Description Availability Qty Break Price Quantity
PLAY - For individual teachers or directors
Order 1 copy of play for each teacher/director who will be using it. Includes permission to print/photocopy for all participating actors. Mix and match 2 or more plays to get them for $35 each.
Downloadable Version of Play
- You will receive a PDF and MP3 files
Download 1
Printed Version of Play
- You will receive a Spiral-Bound Book and Audio CD
In Stock 1
Duo Version - Download AND Printed Book
- You will receive 1) a PDF and MP3 files, and 2) a Spiral-Bound Book and Audio CD
In Stock 1
SITE LICENSE VERSION OF PLAY - For whole schools or grade levels
Order 1 site license per school/site. Includes permission to print/photocopy for all participating students AND teachers. Why a site license? Because it's cheaper than ordering 3+ individual copies of the play.
Downloadable Version of Site License
- You will receive a PDF and MP3 files
Download 1 $90.00
Printed Version of Site License
- You will receive 3 copies of the Spiral-Bound Book and Audio CD
In Stock 1 $90.00
Extra/Replacement Audio Recordings
Downloadable Audio Files
- You will receive a ZIP file containing individual MP3s
Download 1 $12.00
Audio CD
In Stock 1 - 9
Downloadable Audio Files (MP3) + Audio CD
In Stock 1 $20.00
Sheet Music
Downloadable Sheet Music (PDF)
Download 1 $12.00
Printed Sheet Music
In Stock 1 $8.00
Downloadable Sheet Music (PDF) + Printed Sheet Music
In Stock 1 $16.00


Key Concepts

  • Four steps to problem-solving
  • Problem-solving techniques:
    • Guess and Check
    • Make a Table or Chart
    • Work Backwards
    • Act It Out
    • Draw a Picture
    • Find a Pattern

Mastering Math is a great complement to your curriculum resources in elementary and middle school math. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!

Publication Information

Author: Ron Fink (Composer) and John Heath (Book and Lyrics)
ISBN: 978-1-886588-30-1
© 2004 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

Song Samples

Full Song List

1. “He’s Mastering Math”
2. “I Just Want to Solve a Mystery”
3. “Guess and Check”
4. “Work Backwards”
5. “Draw a Table”
6. “Act It Out”
7. “A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words”
8. “Find A Pattern”
9. “Four Steps”
10. “He’s Mastering Math” (reprise)


Flexible casting from 11-40 students.
Use as many Bicycle Store Clerks, School Kids, etc. as desired.
One student can easily play several roles if needed. Note that all roles
can be played by either boys or girls.


This is the first one-third of the script:


Sherlock Holmes
Dr. Watson
Bicycle Store Clerks
Three Sisters
Passersby School Kids
Math Teachers
and a CHORUS composed of all students who are not
playing roles on stage at the time.

This show also requires the use of an overhead projector
in several scenes, and we recommend that one student be
chosen to put the transparencies in place at the
appropriate moments. (See pages 49-53.)

(Class faces audience and sings)

  Song 1 - Listen now!

This is a show about Sherlock Holmes
And how he got his start
This is a show about Sherlock Holmes
And how he got so smart.

This is the story of Sherlock Holmes
And his first mystery
This is the story of Sherlock Holmes
So sit back and you’ll see—

He’s mastering math
Mastering math
It’s just a matter of finding the path
Mastering math
He learns more each day
He’s problem solving the problems away.

He’s mastering math
Mastering math
It’s just a matter of finding the path
Mastering math
He learns more each day
He’s problem solving the problems away.

(SINGERS can lean left and then right, or wave their
hands to each side, as they sing the following lines.
Make it silly!)


He’s mastering math
Mastering math
It’s just a matter of finding the path
Mastering math
He learns more each day
He’s problem solving the problems away.
He’s solving the problems away.

(SHERLOCK HOLMES is walking around a room looking
at things through what should be a large magnifying glass.
WATSON enters.)

WATSON: Ah, there you are Holmes. What are you examining?

HOLMES: Come over here, Dr. Watson. I’ve discovered
something most peculiar. Everything I see through this magnifying
glass looks the same.

WATSON: How odd. May I have a look?

HOLMES (hands it over to WATSON, who begins to look):
No matter where I point it, I see the same thing. It’s like some
silly face is staring back at me.

WATSON: This isn’t a magnifying glass. It’s a mirror.

HOLMES: It is?

WATSON: Take a look.
(Hands mirror to HOLMES, who looks into it)

HOLMES: Aaaach. By Jove, you’re right! I never knew I
had such large nostrils. It’s horrifying.

WATSON: Nonsense,
Holmes. You have perfectly normal nostrils. Delightful nostrils.
British nostrils!

HOLMES: Don’t try to cheer me up. I’m just not getting the
hang of this detective stuff.

WATSON: You’ll make a wonderful detective. You just need
more practice. What do you say we do some word problems?

HOLMES: No, please, Watson. You know what happens.

WATSON: Just one. Really, you can do it. Here. A train
leaves London going west at forty miles an hour. Another train
leaves on the same track from fifty miles west of London going
30 miles an hour. How long is it before they hit each other.

(HOLMES is silent. He looks as if he is thinking deeply—
or in great pain—but he is not moving. After a few seconds,
WATSON speaks.)

WATSON: Holmes? Holmes?

(HOLMES passes out, collapsing on the floor.
WATSON revives him.)

WATSON: Wake up. Come on, let me help you up.

HOLMES: It’s no use. No one will hire me as a detective.
I’ll never learn how to solve problems:

  Song 2 - Listen now!

I, I just want to solve a mystery
What a great detective I could be
But when problems have a number
I cannot get any dumber.

CLASS (suddenly sitting up straight and facing audience) :
Woh oh oh oh oh oh
Woh oh oh oh oh oh

I, I just want to solve a mystery
Solve a famous crime or two or three
But my brain just stops and fidgets
When I have to work with digits.

I don’t know what to do
I haven’t got a clue.
My palms get cold and wet
My eyeballs, my eyeballs, my eyeballs start to sweat.

I, I just want to solve a mystery
What a great detective I could be
But when problems have a number
I cannot get any dumber.

I don’t know what to do
I haven’t got a clue.
My palms get cold and wet
My eyeballs, my eyeballs, my eyeballs start to sweat.
My eyeballs, my eyeballs, my eyeballs start to sweat.

(Three CLIENTS enter.)

CLIENT #1: Is one of you Sherlock Holmes?

HOLMES: I am. Unless you’ve come to repossess my hat.
In that case… (points to WATSON) …HE is.

CLIENT #2: We need your help, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: You do? Are you sure?

CLIENT #1: There has been a crime.

CLIENT #3 (dramatically): Oh, the horror!

CLIENT #1 (trying to ignore #3, addressing HOLMES):
And we need you to solve it.

CLIENT #2: We work for the King of Plutopia. A Top
Secret Document has been stolen from the royal vault.

CLIENT #3: Oh, the horror!

CLIENT #2 (giving #3 a look, then to HOLMES):
And we must get it back immediately.

HOLMES: What’s in the document?

CLIENT #2: How should we know?

ALL THREE CLIENTS (shout): It’s a secret!

CLIENT #1: The thief left behind a clue.
(producing a large key)
A key to a safe-deposit box in the Bank of London.

WATSON: Why don’t you just go to the box and open it?

CLIENT #2: There’s no number on the key. And there
are thousands of boxes.

CLIENT #3: Oh, the horror!

CLIENT #1 (#1 and #2 stare at #3):
But also the thief left a note with a puzzle telling us the
number of the box.

HOLMES: Did you say a puzzle? Oh, the horror!

CLIENT #2: Here’s what the note says. (reading)
“The prince is now 11 years old. The king is 35.
How old was the prince when his father was four times older?”

(HOLMES has that pained look again)

WATSON: Holmes?

(HOLMES passes out. WATSON helps him revive.)

CLIENT #1: Can you help us?

HOLMES: Are you crazy? It could take months to solve. Years, even.

CLIENT #2: Why don’t you try the Guess and Check method?

CLIENT #3: Oh, how fun! I guess 6.

CLIENT #1: It’s not 6.

CLIENT #3: How do you know?

CLIENT #1: I just know.

CLIENT #2: The Guess and Check method can help us figure
it out. Let’s try some numbers.

(The problem appears on the overhead. As each number is
“tried out,” we see it on the overhead.)

  Song 3 - Listen now!

Take a shot
Try a 10
That’s too high?
Then try again.

CLIENT #3: How ’bout six?

CLIENT #1: That’s too low.

CLIENT #3: Not a six?

CLIENT #1: I told you so!

Guess and check
Guess and check
Don’t use hunt and peck
Grope and hope leaves things a wreck
Zero in with guess and check.

Try a nine
Let’s explore
Still too high?
Then try once more.

How ’bout eight?
Take a look
Hey it works
You’ll catch the crook!

Guess and check
Guess and check
Don’t use hunt and peck
Grope and hope leaves things a wreck
Zero in with guess and check.

HOLMES: The answer is eight! Amazing. Come on, Watson.
Let’s get to the bank and check out safe-deposit box
number eight.
We’ll be back in a flash with the document.

(CLIENTS exit. HOLMES and WATSON walk across stage,
and then back to where the BANKERS have entered.)

(This concludes the first one-third of the script.)

Overall Customer Rating:
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Customer Reviews: 3

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I recommend Bad Wolf plays to everyone.

We are a small private school (17 students grades 3K-grade 8) so most students had to play more than one character. My favorites were the boys who played the bankers of the Bank of London (London, Texas that is) and three other boys who dressed up to play the cannibal sisters. Hilarious! Of course everyone did a great job on every character.
The kids worked hard and had lots of fun putting their own spin on each of their characters. They also did most of the work on our sets and props. I appreciate your songs being so catchy. It makes them easy for the kids to learn. We've done several of your plays here and I'm sure they would be able to sing along on about any song I would start for them.
Thanks again for your fine work. We're already thinking about what we want to do next year.

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A Huge Hit

Mastering Math was a huge hit with parents, staff and students. I have used the song strategies when talking my own daughter through her homework. 🎶Guess...and check...🎶

The kids performed after a 4 day weekend and I was a little nervous about that but they came together. It was such a joy to see their character's personalities emerge at just the right moment.

I cried at the end I was so proud (and also sad that it was over).

The option of a digital download was a life saver since, by the time I placed my order, I needed it yesterday. It was super easy to download the script and audio and it was pretty much instant.

I am already planning to do another one next year. I love Bad Wolf Press! Keep up the good work, y'all!

La Puente

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  • Fun and applicable

Mastering Math goes through many problem solving skills for students. Students are engaged and have really learned the process of problem solving. A great and engaging play.

Additional Comments and Reviews:

"Bravo! We just received the hot-off-the-press Mastering Math script and CD. It is fabulous – witty, catchy and sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike! In the past three years, my kiddos have put on Aesop’s Fables, The Incredible Westward Movement, America's Tallest Tales, The Weather Show, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood. Parents tell me their kids remember these plays for years and continue to sing the songs. (Our favorite is "Sodbusters"!)

I can’t wait to get started on Mastering Math. My kids will be able to remember and use the problem solving strategies much more easily by putting it to music. I wasn’t sure how you could make a math play and you’ve far exceeded my expectations.

Thank you for the outstanding curriculum-based plays. Their reasonable cost makes it easy to use them in the classroom. The kids and I love them and each year’s group looks forward to finding out which plays we’re going to do. Keep up the great work you do!"

---Lee Ann Jackson, Teacher (4th grade), McAuliffe Elementary, Sammamish, WA

"The students are still taking about the six strategies in problem solving."

---Susan Hoffman, Teacher (6th grade), Jacks Valley Elementary, Carson City, NV (Read the review in Susan's local paper here.)

"Just a quick note to let you know that my sixth grade class and I loved Mastering Math. We performed it for the school on Math Discovery Day, and then again for the parents. It reinforced in a delightful way the problem-solving strategies we've been emphasizing since the primary grades. As the year progressed, there were occasions when we'd be doing a word problem, and students would spontaneously break out in the song from the musical that focused on the particular strategy that they were now finding quite useful. Mastering Math made the problem-solving strategies stick with the kids in a way that nothing had done previously. Thank you!

---Debi Madden, Teacher (6th grade), Sumner/Danbury Elementary, Claremont, CA

"We just finished performing the Mastering Math musical. It was a huge success and a crowd favorite. This is the fifth year I have used your musicals and every year we perform them they are loved by the students and parents. They are already asking what play we will do next! Thanks to your creative talents, so many teachers and students who would have never taken such risks in drama are now stars."

---Christine Olin, Teacher (5th grade) Castaic Elementary, Castaic, CA

"It is hard to find good plays and musicals that are at the right level for primary kids. I strongly recommend this play. It's fun, it engages the kids and it has some great music. We loved it."

---Bruce Ferrington, Teacher, Radford College, Canberra, Australia (read his blog post!)

"They really enjoyed the songs, and they're great to use when we're actually doing problem solving."

---Joanne Olson, 4th Grade Teacher, Park Ridge Elementary, Stafford, VI

Common Core and Other National Standards


  • Common Core Mathematic Standards for Mathematical Practices: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

Language Arts

National Core Arts Standards


safe-deposit box
chocolate mousse
drat (slang)
take a shot
hunt and peck
zero in
"put the cart before the horse"
"the play’s the thing"

Number of questions: 0

Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Wolf Products and Licensing

How does your pricing and licensing work?

A: In short: each teacher/director using the play should have a copy of it. That's it! Your purchase gives you the right to use the play with as many classes as you wish, to photocopy the script for your actors, and to put on as many performances as you wish. This one-time purchase gives you a lifetime license. See below for more information on site licenses (for 3+ teachers or whole schools).

Q: What comes in the package?

A: Every musical play comes with the script and a 12-page Teacher's Guide that provides lots of tips and advice for using the play from start to finish. It also includes the audio recording for the play, which has all the songs both WITH and WITHOUT vocals. Sheet music is NOT included with the basic package, but it is available for $12. Extra/replacement CDs are also available for $12.

Every non-musical play comes with the script and the 12-page Teacher's Guide.

Q: I'm just one teacher putting on a play. If I use the play with multiple classes, do I have to purchase multiple licenses?

A: No! Your purchase gives you a lifetime license to be used with as many actors and classes as you wish. If other teachers/directors wish to use the play as well, they will need to purchase their own licenses.

Q: Do I need to purchase scripts for students?

A: No! Your purchase includes permission to photocopy the script for your actors.

Q: What is a "site license"? How do I know if I need one?

A site license is the economical choice when a whole school or grade level wants to put on the same play. Instead of each teacher/director having to purchase a script, the school/site can purchase a site license. This comes with three copies of the play (or one digital download) and permission to make copies for any additional participating teachers, as well as all the actors. You do NOT need to purchase both a site license and individual copies of the play; just buy one or the other.

Q: I understand that I can get two or more scripts for $35 each. Do they have to be the same play?

Nope! The discount applies whether you are purchasing multiple copies of the same show or single copies of multiple shows.

Q: What is the difference between the printed and digital versions? Which one should I get?

There is no difference in terms of content. The printed version of a musical play comes with an audio CD in a plastic sleeve in the back of the book. The digital version comes with two downloadable files: the script (PDF format) and the songs (individual MP3 files compressed in ZIP format). The advantage of the digital version is that you will not pay shipping and you can start using it instantly. Please read the question following this one about the technical requirements for digital files.

Non-musical plays are available in the form of a printed book or a PDF file.

Q: What are the technical requirements for the digital version?

  1. You will need to have Adobe Reader (free) or another software application that can open PDF files.
  2. You will need to be able to open ZIP files. The vast majority of computers should be able to do this without difficulty. If you wish to download the music directly to your phone or tablet, you will need to download an app that will open ZIP files. Many free ones are available.
  3. You will need to have some kind of audio player (such as iTunes or Windows Media Player) that will play MP3 files.

Advanced technical knowledge is not required; but please note that we do not have the ability to offer technical support for issues related to digital files. If you are unsure, it is probably best to stick with the printed version.

Q: What is your return/exchange policy?

A: Bad Wolf proudly offers a 100% guarantee. You can always exchange a product for another or get a full refund. No time limits, no questions.

Q: Is it OK if I edit the script?

A: Yes! Consider the play to be a jumping-off point. You are always welcome to change or omit anything that doesn't work for your class, administration, or parents. You are welcome to rewrite lyrics, lines, or jokes -- or add your own! (The kids love doing this, by the way.)

Q: How long does shipping take?

A: We say that you should allow for one week within the U.S., but most orders are shipped the same day and arrive 1-3 days later. International orders usually take around two weeks to arrive.

Q: Do I need to pay any performance royalties?

A: As long as your admission price is less than $5 per ticket, you never need to pay performance royalties with a Bad Wolf show. If you decide to charge more than $5 a ticket, or if you are using one of our plays for a PAID workshop, camp, assembly, etc., pay only a low 1-2% royalty on gross revenues. See our royalty page to view the rates and pay.