In this article, the NRICH team describe the process of selecting solutions for publication on the site.
This article for primary teachers suggests ways in which to help children become better at working systematically.
If you put three beads onto a tens/ones abacus you could make the
numbers 3, 30, 12 or 21. What numbers can be made with six beads?
Place eight dots on this diagram, so that there are only two dots
on each straight line and only two dots on each circle.
What is the least number of moves you can take to rearrange the
bears so that no bear is next to a bear of the same colour?
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?
This 100 square jigsaw is written in code. It starts with 1 and ends with 100. Can you build it up?
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none
can capture any of the others.
Put 10 counters in a row. Find a way to arrange the counters into
five pairs, evenly spaced in a row, in just 5 moves, using the
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?
This article for teachers suggests activities based on pegboards, from pattern generation to finding all possible triangles, for example.
Alice and Brian are snails who live on a wall and can only travel
along the cracks. Alice wants to go to see Brian. How far is the
shortest route along the cracks? Is there more than one way to go?
What do the digits in the number fifteen add up to? How many other
numbers have digits with the same total but no zeros?
Tim's class collected data about all their pets. Can you put the
animal names under each column in the block graph using the
Make a pair of cubes that can be moved to show all the days of the
month from the 1st to the 31st.
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?
Find your way through the grid starting at 2 and following these
operations. What number do you end on?
How many different ways can you find to join three equilateral
triangles together? Can you convince us that you have found them
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?
There are 44 people coming to a dinner party. There are 15 square
tables that seat 4 people. Find a way to seat the 44 people using
all 15 tables, with no empty places.
Ben and his mum are planting garlic. Use the interactivity to help
you find out how many cloves of garlic they might have had.
Systematically explore the range of symmetric designs that can be
created by shading parts of the motif below. Use normal square
lattice paper to record your results.
Can you put plus signs in so this is true? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 = 99
How many ways can you do it?
I was in my car when I noticed a line of four cars on the lane next
to me with number plates starting and ending with J, K, L and M.
What order were they in?
A magician took a suit of thirteen cards and held them in his hand
face down. Every card he revealed had the same value as the one he
had just finished spelling. How did this work?
How many triangles can you make on the 3 by 3 pegboard?
The Vikings communicated in writing by making simple scratches on
wood or stones called runes. Can you work out how their code works
using the table of the alphabet?
There are seven pots of plants in a greenhouse. They have lost their labels. Perhaps you can help re-label them.
Can you find the chosen number from the grid using the clues?
This multiplication uses each of the digits 0 - 9 once and once only. Using the information given, can you replace the stars in the calculation with figures?
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.
Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no
consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?
This activity investigates how you might make squares and pentominoes from Polydron.
Nina must cook some pasta for 15 minutes but she only has a 7-minute sand-timer and an 11-minute sand-timer. How can she use these timers to measure exactly 15 minutes?
A merchant brings four bars of gold to a jeweller. How can the
jeweller use the scales just twice to identify the lighter, fake
This magic square has operations written in it, to make it into a
maze. Start wherever you like, go through every cell and go out a
total of 15!
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots
on the 8-point circle?
There are 4 jugs which hold 9 litres, 7 litres, 4 litres and 2
litres. Find a way to pour 9 litres of drink from one jug to
another until you are left with exactly 3 litres in three of the
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.
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 the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the 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?
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?
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?
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?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
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?
What happens when you try and fit the triomino pieces into these
Can you cover the camel with these pieces?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?