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?
This challenge involves eight three-cube models made from
interlocking cubes. Investigate different ways of putting the
models together then compare your constructions.
Investigate the number of faces you can see when you arrange three cubes in different ways.
In this challenge, you will work in a group to investigate circular
fences enclosing trees that are planted in square or triangular
Arrange your fences to make the largest rectangular space you can. Try with four fences, then five, then six etc.
What do these two triangles have in common? How are they related?
Investigate how this pattern of squares continues. You could
measure lengths, areas and angles.
Can you create more models that follow these rules?
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?
A follow-up activity to Tiles in the Garden.
Explore one of these five pictures.
This problem is intended to get children to look really hard at something they will see many times in the next few months.
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
Sort the houses in my street into different groups. Can you do it in any other ways?
Try continuing these patterns made from triangles. Can you create
your own repeating pattern?
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
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?
We need to wrap up this cube-shaped present, remembering that we
can have no overlaps. What shapes can you find to use?
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?
Place four pebbles on the sand in the form of a square. Keep adding as few pebbles as necessary to double the area. How many extra pebbles are added each time?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
Investigate all the different squares you can make on this 5 by 5
grid by making your starting side go from the bottom left hand
point. Can you find out the areas of all these squares?
How can you arrange these 10 matches in four piles so that when you
move one match from three of the piles into the fourth, you end up
with the same arrangement?
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.
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.
Make new patterns from simple turning instructions. You can have a
go using pencil and paper or with a floor robot.
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
A group of children are discussing the height of a tall tree. How would you go about finding out its height?
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
Using different numbers of sticks, how many different triangles are
you able to make? Can you make any rules about the numbers of
sticks that make the most triangles?
Can you find ways of joining cubes together so that 28 faces are
In this article for teachers, Bernard gives an example of taking an
initial activity and getting questions going that lead to other
What is the smallest number of tiles needed to tile this patio? Can
you investigate patios of different sizes?
Explore the different tunes you can make with these five gourds.
What are the similarities and differences between the two tunes you
Bernard Bagnall describes how to get more out of some favourite
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
Is there a best way to stack cans? What do different supermarkets
do? How high can you safely stack the cans?
Use the interactivity to investigate what kinds of triangles can be
drawn on peg boards with different numbers of pegs.
Use the interactivity to find all the different right-angled
triangles you can make by just moving one corner of the starting
This practical problem challenges you to create shapes and patterns
with two different types of triangle. You could even try
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.
Explore the triangles that can be made with seven sticks of the
This practical investigation invites you to make tessellating
shapes in a similar way to the artist Escher.
How can you arrange the 5 cubes so that you need the smallest number of Brush Loads of paint to cover them? Try with other numbers of cubes as well.