This article for teachers suggests ideas for activities built around 10 and 2010.
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.
How many ways can you find of tiling the square patio, using square
tiles of different sizes?
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?
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
Investigate how this pattern of squares continues. You could
measure lengths, areas and angles.
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.
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?
I cut this square into two different shapes. What can you say about
the relationship between them?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
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?
Use the interactivity to find all the different right-angled
triangles you can make by just moving one corner of the starting
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.
What do these two triangles have in common? How are they related?
What is the smallest number of tiles needed to tile this patio? Can
you investigate patios of different sizes?
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.
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?
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
A group of children are discussing the height of a tall tree. How would you go about finding out its height?
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 tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.
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?
Investigate what happens when you add house numbers along a street
in different ways.
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
What is the largest cuboid you can wrap in an A3 sheet of paper?
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 find out how the 6-triangle shape is transformed in these
tessellations? Will the tessellations go on for ever? Why or why
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?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
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?
Can you make these equilateral triangles fit together to cover the
paper without any gaps between them? Can you tessellate isosceles
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?
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.
Arrange your fences to make the largest rectangular space you can. Try with four fences, then five, then six etc.
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?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
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?
How many tiles do we need to tile these patios?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
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?
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!
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?
When Charlie asked his grandmother how old she is, he didn't get a
straightforward reply! Can you work out how old she is?
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.
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Complete these two jigsaws then put one on top of the other. What
happens when you add the 'touching' numbers? What happens when you
change the position of the jigsaws?
"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 ...?
Can you create more models that follow these rules?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
In this investigation we are going to count the number of 1s, 2s,
3s etc in numbers. Can you predict what will happen?