A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
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?
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?
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.
What is the smallest number of tiles needed to tile this patio? Can
you investigate patios of different sizes?
An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
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
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
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?
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?
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?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
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.
Investigate the area of 'slices' cut off this cube of cheese. What
would happen if you had different-sized block of cheese to start
Bernard Bagnall describes how to get more out of some favourite
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?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Use the interactivity to find all the different right-angled triangles you can make by just moving one corner of the starting triangle.
How many ways can you find of tiling the square patio, using square
tiles of different sizes?
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?
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
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?
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.
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
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?
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
Suppose there is a train with 24 carriages which are going to be put together to make up some new trains. Can you find all the ways that this can be done?
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.
This challenge encourages you to explore dividing a three-digit number by a single-digit number.
Suppose we allow ourselves to use three numbers less than 10 and
multiply them together. How many different products can you find?
How do you know you've got them all?
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?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
Here are many ideas for you to investigate - all linked with the
Write the numbers up to 64 in an interesting way so that the shape they make at the end is interesting, different, more exciting ... than just a square.
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?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
In this investigation we are going to count the number of 1s, 2s, 3s etc in numbers. Can you predict what will happen?
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 continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
We need to wrap up this cube-shaped present, remembering that we
can have no overlaps. What shapes can you find to use?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
I cut this square into two different shapes. What can you say about
the relationship between them?
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?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
When Charlie asked his grandmother how old she is, he didn't get a
straightforward reply! Can you work out how old she is?
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?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
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?
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!