We need to wrap up this cube-shaped present, remembering that we
can have no overlaps. What shapes can you find to use?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Investigate the number of faces you can see when you arrange three cubes in different ways.
How many shapes can you build from three red and two green cubes? Can you use what you've found out to predict the number for four red and two green?
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?
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.
This challenge involves eight three-cube models made from
interlocking cubes. Investigate different ways of putting the
models together then compare your constructions.
In this investigation, you must try to make houses using cubes. If
the base must not spill over 4 squares and you have 7 cubes which
stand for 7 rooms, what different designs can you come up with?
Can you create more models that follow these rules?
Investigate the area of 'slices' cut off this cube of cheese. What
would happen if you had different-sized block of cheese to start
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
How could you put eight beanbags in the hoops so that there are
four in the blue hoop, five in the red and six in the yellow? Can
you find all the ways of doing this?
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?
In a Magic Square all the rows, columns and diagonals add to the 'Magic Constant'. How would you change the magic constant of this square?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
This challenge is to design different step arrangements, which must
go along a distance of 6 on the steps and must end up at 6 high.
Bernard Bagnall describes how to get more out of some favourite
How many triangles can you make on the 3 by 3 pegboard?
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square
below so that each side adds to the same total.
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 thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
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?
Arrange your fences to make the largest rectangular space you can. Try with four fences, then five, then six etc.
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
Explore the different tunes you can make with these five gourds.
What are the similarities and differences between the two tunes you
A description of some experiments in which you can make discoveries about triangles.
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?
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
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?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
This problem is based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
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 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 the most extraordinary, the most amazing, the most
unusual patterns/designs from these triangles which are made in a
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.
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?
Compare the numbers of particular tiles in one or all of these
three designs, inspired by the floor tiles of a church in
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
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?
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?
How many different cuboids can you make when you use four CDs or
DVDs? How about using five, then six?
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.
This practical investigation invites you to make tessellating
shapes in a similar way to the artist Escher.
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?
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.