For many middle-school children, math is a real challenge. It is at this age that the concepts begin to get more abstract, and work goes beyond "concrete" ideas like adding and subtracting. It's no surprise that at this age, math can become something the student avoids, or begins to dislike.
Subtract 1-, 2-, or 3-digit numbers from 3- and 4-digit number with/without renaming
Times are different these days. Kids are growing up in a world of microwaves, fast food chains, Nintendo, Wifi, iPads, along with a ton of other technical marvels.
My students are engaged in the activity because they are always eager to find out what the next scene will be, and how the math problems will be nestled within. They also like how within each handout I inscribe the title in a way that fits with the theme of that particular scene - another attention catching technique. And since this review activity only takes about fifteen minutes of class time, it is quick yet extremely beneficial.