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?
What is the largest number of circles we can fit into the frame
without them overlapping? How do you know? What will happen if you
try the other shapes?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
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
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
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
In this challenge, you will work in a group to investigate circular
fences enclosing trees that are planted in square or triangular
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?
What do these two triangles have in common? How are they related?
Use your mouse to move the red and green parts of this disc. Can
you make images which show the turnings described?
Bernard Bagnall describes how to get more out of some favourite
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
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.
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
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?
This problem is intended to get children to look really hard at something they will see many times in the next few months.
What happens to the area of a square if you double the length of
the sides? Try the same thing with rectangles, diamonds and other
shapes. How do the four smaller ones fit into the larger one?
Investigate the number of faces you can see when you arrange three cubes in different ways.
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
Compare the numbers of particular tiles in one or all of these
three designs, inspired by the floor tiles of a church in
Arrange your fences to make the largest rectangular space you can. Try with four fences, then five, then six etc.
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
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?
What is the largest cuboid you can wrap in an A3 sheet of paper?
What is the smallest number of tiles needed to tile this patio? Can
you investigate patios of different sizes?
Can you find out how the 6-triangle shape is transformed in these
tessellations? Will the tessellations go on for ever? Why or why
Can you make these equilateral triangles fit together to cover the
paper without any gaps between them? Can you tessellate isosceles
Use the interactivity to investigate what kinds of triangles can be
drawn on peg boards with different numbers of pegs.
We went to the cinema and decided to buy some bags of popcorn so we
asked about the prices. Investigate how much popcorn each bag holds
so find out which we might have bought.
Try continuing these patterns made from triangles. Can you create your own repeating pattern?
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?
Sort the houses in my street into different groups. Can you do it in any other ways?
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?
In this article for teachers, Bernard gives an example of taking an
initial activity and getting questions going that lead to other
Let's say you can only use two different lengths - 2 units and 4
units. Using just these 2 lengths as the edges how many different
cuboids can you make?
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?
Explore ways of colouring this set of triangles. Can you make
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
Here is your chance to investigate the number 28 using shapes,
cubes ... in fact anything at all.
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Explore one of these five pictures.
Can you create more models that follow these rules?
In this investigation we are going to count the number of 1s, 2s, 3s etc in numbers. Can you predict what will happen?
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.
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?
A group of children are discussing the height of a tall tree. How would you go about finding out its height?
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?
A follow-up activity to Tiles in the Garden.
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?