An article for teachers which first appeared in the MA's Equals journal, featuring activities which use counters.
If you put three beads onto a tens/ones abacus you could make the
numbers 3, 30, 12 or 21. What numbers can be made with six beads?
Place eight dots on this diagram, so that there are only two dots
on each straight line and only two dots on each circle.
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none
can capture any of the others.
In a bowl there are 4 Chocolates, 3 Jellies and 5 Mints. Find a way
to share the sweets between the three children so they each get the
kind they like. Is there more than one way to do it?
Arrange 3 red, 3 blue and 3 yellow counters into a three-by-three square grid, so that there is only one of each colour in every row and every column
This project challenges you to work out the number of cubes hidden
under a cloth. What questions would you like to ask?
Put 10 counters in a row. Find a way to arrange the counters into
five pairs, evenly spaced in a row, in just 5 moves, using the
Jack has nine tiles. He put them together to make a square so that two tiles of the same colour were not beside each other. Can you find another way to do it?
Investigate the different shaped bracelets you could make from 18 different spherical beads. How do they compare if you use 24 beads?
Rocco ran in a 200 m race for his class. Use the information to
find out how many runners there were in the race and what Rocco's
finishing position was.
What is the least number of moves you can take to rearrange the
bears so that no bear is next to a bear of the same colour?
A game for 2 players. Can be played online. One player has 1 red
counter, the other has 4 blue. The red counter needs to reach the
other side, and the blue needs to trap the red.
Arrange any number of counters from these 18 on the grid to make a rectangle. What numbers of counters make rectangles? How many different rectangles can you make with each number of counters?
Take a counter and surround it by a ring of other counters that
MUST touch two others. How many are needed?
What is the greatest number of counters you can place on the grid below without four of them lying at the corners of a square?
A fun game for two. You'll need some counters.
The game uses a 3x3 square board. 2 players take turns to play,
either placing a red on an empty square, or changing a red to
orange, or orange to green. The player who forms 3 of 1 colour in a
line. . . .
Use the ratio of cashew nuts to peanuts to find out how many
peanuts Rachel has. What would the ratio be if Rachel and Marianne
mixed their bags?
Here are some ideas to try in the classroom for using counters to investigate number patterns.
Can you deduce the pattern that has been used to lay out these