These pictures were made by starting with a square, finding the
half-way point on each side and joining those points up. You could
investigate your own starting shape.
I cut this square into two different shapes. What can you say about
the relationship between them?
When newspaper pages get separated at home we have to try to sort
them out and get things in the correct order. How many ways can we
arrange these pages so that the numbering may be different?
Bernard Bagnall describes how to get more out of some favourite
Here is your chance to investigate the number 28 using shapes,
cubes ... in fact anything at all.
Follow the directions for circling numbers in the matrix. Add all
the circled numbers together. Note your answer. Try again with a
different starting number. What do you notice?
Place the 16 different combinations of cup/saucer in this 4 by 4 arrangement so that no row or column contains more than one cup or saucer of the same colour.
In this section from a calendar, put a square box around the 1st,
2nd, 8th and 9th. Add all the pairs of numbers. What do you notice
about the answers?
Investigate these hexagons drawn from different sized equilateral
The ancient Egyptians were said to make right-angled triangles
using a rope with twelve equal sections divided by knots. What
other triangles could you make if you had a rope like this?
Investigate and explain the patterns that you see from recording
just the units digits of numbers in the times tables.
This activity asks you to collect information about the birds you
see in the garden. Are there patterns in the data or do the birds
seem to visit randomly?
What is the largest cuboid you can wrap in an A3 sheet of paper?
Investigate the area of 'slices' cut off this cube of cheese. What
would happen if you had different-sized block of cheese to start
Here are many ideas for you to investigate - all linked with the
Explore ways of colouring this set of triangles. Can you make
In my local town there are three supermarkets which each has a
special deal on some products. If you bought all your shopping in
one shop, where would be the cheapest?
Can you make these equilateral triangles fit together to cover the
paper without any gaps between them? Can you tessellate isosceles
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
Investigate the different ways these aliens count in this
challenge. You could start by thinking about how each of them would
write our number 7.
The red ring is inside the blue ring in this picture. Can you
rearrange the rings in different ways? Perhaps you can overlap them
or put one outside another?
Can you find out how the 6-triangle shape is transformed in these
tessellations? Will the tessellations go on for ever? Why or why
Investigate the numbers that come up on a die as you roll it in the
direction of north, south, east and west, without going over the
path it's already made.
What happens when you add the digits of a number then multiply the
result by 2 and you keep doing this? You could try for different
numbers and different rules.
If the answer's 2010, what could the question be?
This problem is intended to get children to look really hard at something they will see many times in the next few months.
In this investigation we are going to count the number of 1s, 2s,
3s etc in numbers. Can you predict what will happen?
Investigate the number of faces you can see when you arrange three cubes in different ways.
Start with four numbers at the corners of a square and put the
total of two corners in the middle of that side. Keep going... Can
you estimate what the size of the last four numbers will be?
Compare the numbers of particular tiles in one or all of these
three designs, inspired by the floor tiles of a church in
When Charlie asked his grandmother how old she is, he didn't get a
straightforward reply! Can you work out how old she is?
How many tiles do we need to tile these patios?
The challenge here is to find as many routes as you can for a fence
to go so that this town is divided up into two halves, each with 8
Take a look at these data collected by children in 1986 as part of the Domesday Project. What do they tell you? What do you think about the way they are presented?
This challenge asks you to investigate the total number of cards that would be sent if four children send one to all three others. How many would be sent if there were five children? Six?
While we were sorting some papers we found 3 strange sheets which
seemed to come from small books but there were page numbers at the
foot of each page. Did the pages come from the same book?
If you have three circular objects, you could arrange them so that
they are separate, touching, overlapping or inside each other. Can
you investigate all the different possibilities?
"Ip dip sky blue! Who's 'it'? It's you!" Where would you position yourself so that you are 'it' if there are two players? Three players ...?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
If I use 12 green tiles to represent my lawn, how many different
ways could I arrange them? How many border tiles would I need each
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
You cannot choose a selection of ice cream flavours that includes
totally what someone has already chosen. Have a go and find all the
different ways in which seven children can have ice cream.
Ana and Ross looked in a trunk in the attic. They found old cloaks
and gowns, hats and masks. How many possible costumes could they
Vincent and Tara are making triangles with the class construction set. They have a pile of strips of different lengths. How many different triangles can they make?
Investigate what happens when you add house numbers along a street
in different ways.
How many different shaped boxes can you design for 36 sweets in one
layer? Can you arrange the sweets so that no sweets of the same
colour are next to each other in any direction?
I like to walk along the cracks of the paving stones, but not the
outside edge of the path itself. How many different routes can you
find for me to take?
Take 5 cubes of one colour and 2 of another colour. How many
different ways can you join them if the 5 must touch the table and
the 2 must not touch the table?