Our 2008 Advent Calendar has a 'Making Maths' activity for every
day in the run-up to Christmas.
In how many ways can you fit two of these yellow triangles
together? Can you predict the number of ways two blue triangles can
be fitted together?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
Use the three triangles to fill these outline shapes. Perhaps you can create some of your own shapes for a friend to fill?
Take a rectangle of paper and fold it in half, and half again, to
make four smaller rectangles. How many different ways can you fold
NRICH December 2006 advent calendar - a new tangram for each day in
the run-up to Christmas.
These practical challenges are all about making a 'tray' and covering it with paper.
The Man is much smaller than us. Can you use the picture of him
next to a mug to estimate his height and how much tea he drinks?
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?
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?
If you split the square into these two pieces, it is possible to fit the pieces together again to make a new shape. How many new shapes can you make?
Can you predict when you'll be clapping and when you'll be clicking
if you start this rhythm? How about when a friend begins a new
rhythm at the same time?
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?
Can you each work out the number on your card? What do you notice?
How could you sort the cards?
This was a problem for our birthday website. Can you use four of these pieces to form a square? How about making a square with all five pieces?
In this challenge, you will work in a group to investigate circular
fences enclosing trees that are planted in square or triangular
Try continuing these patterns made from triangles. Can you create your own repeating pattern?
How many triangles can you make on the 3 by 3 pegboard?
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?
How can you put five cereal packets together to make different
shapes if you must put them face-to-face?
Can you make the most extraordinary, the most amazing, the most
unusual patterns/designs from these triangles which are made in a
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 problem focuses on Dienes' Logiblocs. What is the same and
what is different about these pairs of shapes? Can you describe the
shapes in the picture?
Can you make the birds from the egg tangram?
Investigate the smallest number of moves it takes to turn these
mats upside-down if you can only turn exactly three at a time.
What is the greatest number of counters you can place on the grid below without four of them lying at the corners of a square?
How many different cuboids can you make when you use four CDs or
DVDs? How about using five, then six?
Here is a version of the game 'Happy Families' for you to make and
These pictures show squares split into halves. Can you find other ways?
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.
Can you create more models that follow these rules?
These squares have been made from Cuisenaire rods. Can you describe
the pattern? What would the next square look like?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Explore the triangles that can be made with seven sticks of the
A group of children are discussing the height of a tall tree. How would you go about finding out its height?
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?
If these balls are put on a line with each ball touching the one in front and the one behind, which arrangement makes the shortest line of balls?
This practical investigation invites you to make tessellating
shapes in a similar way to the artist Escher.
Factors and Multiples game for an adult and child. How can you make sure you win this game?
Take a counter and surround it by a ring of other counters that
MUST touch two others. How many are needed?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
Is there a best way to stack cans? What do different supermarkets
do? How high can you safely stack the cans?
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.
You'll need a collection of cups for this activity.
Use the lines on this figure to show how the square can be divided into 2 halves, 3 thirds, 6 sixths and 9 ninths.
Ideas for practical ways of representing data such as Venn and
Where can you put the mirror across the square so that you can still "see" the whole square? How many different positions are possible?
Make a cube out of straws and have a go at this practical
Exploring and predicting folding, cutting and punching holes and
What do these two triangles have in common? How are they related?