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Interactivities. Rich Tasks. Pedagogy. Problem solving. Addition & subtraction. Mathematical Thinking. Visualising. Working systematically. Games. Roadshow.

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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Working systematically

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Encouraging Primary Children to Work Systematically

Stage: Early years, 1 and 2

This article for primary teachers suggests ways in which to help children become better at working systematically.

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First Connect Three

Stage: 2, 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

The idea of this game is to add or subtract the two numbers on the dice and cover the result on the grid, trying to get a line of three. Are there some numbers that are good to aim for?

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Teddy Town

Stage: 1, 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

There are nine teddies in Teddy Town - three red, three blue and three yellow. There are also nine houses, three of each colour. Can you put them on the map of Teddy Town according to the rules?

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Twinkle Twinkle

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.

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Creating Cubes

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Arrange 9 red cubes, 9 blue cubes and 9 yellow cubes into a large 3 by 3 cube. No row or column of cubes must contain two cubes of the same colour.

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Mixed-up Socks

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Start with three pairs of socks. Now mix them up so that no mismatched pair is the same as another mismatched pair. Is there more than one way to do it?

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Whose Face?

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

These are the faces of Will, Lil, Bill, Phil and Jill. Use the clues to work out which name goes with each face.

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Matching Time

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Try this matching game which will help you recognise different ways of saying the same time interval.

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Ladybird Box

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Place six toy ladybirds into the box so that there are two ladybirds in every column and every row.

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Family Tree

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Use the clues to find out who's who in the family, to fill in the family tree and to find out which of the family members are mathematicians and which are not.

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Tea Cups

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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.

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Here to There 1 2 3

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Move from the START to the FINISH by moving across or down to the next square. Can you find a route to make these totals?

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Team Scream

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Seven friends went to a fun fair with lots of scary rides. They decided to pair up for rides until each friend had ridden once with each of the others. What was the total number rides?

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Maths Trails

Stage: 2 and 3

The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.

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Triangle Edges

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

How many triangles can you make using sticks that are 3cm, 4cm and 5cm long?

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More and More Buckets

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

In this challenge, buckets come in five different sizes. If you choose some buckets, can you investigate the different ways in which they can be filled?

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Lots of Lollies

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Frances and Rishi were given a bag of lollies. They shared them out evenly and had one left over. How many lollies could there have been in the bag?

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Wag Worms

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

When intergalactic Wag Worms are born they look just like a cube. Each year they grow another cube in any direction. Find all the shapes that five-year-old Wag Worms can be.

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Robot Monsters

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Use these head, body and leg pieces to make Robot Monsters which are different heights.

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Counters

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Hover your mouse over the counters to see which ones will be removed. Click to remover them. The winner is the last one to remove a counter. How you can make sure you win?

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Jumping Cricket

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

El Crico the cricket has to cross a square patio to get home. He can jump the length of one tile, two tiles and three tiles. Can you find a path that would get El Crico home in three jumps?

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A City of Towers

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

In this town, houses are built with one room for each person. There are some families of seven people living in the town. In how many different ways can they build their houses?

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Junior Frogs

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Have a go at this well-known challenge. Can you swap the frogs and toads in as few slides and jumps as possible?

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Nine-pin Triangles

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

How many different triangles can you make on a circular pegboard that has nine pegs?

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Red Even

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

You have 4 red and 5 blue counters. How many ways can they be placed on a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows columns and diagonals have an even number of red counters?

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Name the Children

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you find out in which order the children are standing in this line?

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Winning the Lottery

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Try out the lottery that is played in a far-away land. What is the chance of winning?

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Button-up

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all the buttons?

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Inky Cube

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

This cube has ink on each face which leaves marks on paper as it is rolled. Can you work out what is on each face and the route it has taken?

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A Bag of Marbles

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use the information to describe these marbles. What colours must be on marbles that sparkle when rolling but are dark inside?

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Late Again

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Moira is late for school. What is the shortest route she can take from the school gates to the entrance?

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Two Dice

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find all the numbers that can be made by adding the dots on two dice.

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Fault-free Rectangles

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of your own.

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Combining Cuisenaire

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you find all the different ways of lining up these Cuisenaire rods?

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1 to 8

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Place the numbers 1 to 8 in the circles so that no consecutive numbers are joined by a line.

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One to Fifteen

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?

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Code Breaker

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

This problem is based on a code using two different prime numbers less than 10. You'll need to multiply them together and shift the alphabet forwards by the result. Can you decipher the code?

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Making Trains

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you make a train the same length as Laura's but using three differently coloured rods? Is there only one way of doing it?

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Octa Space

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

In the planet system of Octa the planets are arranged in the shape of an octahedron. How many different routes could be taken to get from Planet A to Planet Zargon?

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2,4,6,8

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Using the cards 2, 4, 6, 8, +, - and =, what number statements can you make?

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More on Mazes

Stage: 2 and 3

There is a long tradition of creating mazes throughout history and across the world. This article gives details of mazes you can visit and those that you can tackle on paper.

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Masterclass Ideas: Working Systematically

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A package contains a set of resources designed to develop students’ mathematical thinking. This package places a particular emphasis on “being systematic” and is designed to meet. . . .

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Three Ball Line Up

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use the interactivity to help get a feel for this problem and to find out all the possible ways the balls could land.

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Same Length Trains

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many trains can you make which are the same length as Matt's, using rods that are identical?

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Nineteen Hexagons

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

In this maze of hexagons, you start in the centre at 0. The next hexagon must be a multiple of 2 and the next a multiple of 5. What are the possible paths you could take?

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Cuisenaire Counting

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Here are some rods that are different colours. How could I make a dark green rod using yellow and white rods?

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Jigsaw Pieces

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Imagine that the puzzle pieces of a jigsaw are roughly a rectangular shape and all the same size. How many different puzzle pieces could there be?

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What Shape and Colour?

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you fill in the empty boxes in the grid with the right shape and colour?

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Chocs, Mints, Jellies

Stage: 2 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

In a bowl there are 4 Chocolates, 3 Jellies and 5 Mints. Find a way to share the sweets between the three children so they each get the kind they like. Is there more than one way to do it?

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Inside Triangles

Stage: 1 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?