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.
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?
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none
can capture any of the others.
This 100 square jigsaw is written in code. It starts with 1 and ends with 100. Can you build it up?
Place eight dots on this diagram, so that there are only two dots
on each straight line and only two dots on each circle.
This article for teachers suggests activities based on pegboards, from pattern generation to finding all possible triangles, for example.
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
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?
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?
What happens when you try and fit the triomino pieces into these
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
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?
Can you cover the camel with these pieces?
Investigate the smallest number of moves it takes to turn these
mats upside-down if you can only turn exactly three at a time.
How many different ways can you find to join three equilateral
triangles together? Can you convince us that you have found 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.
Ben and his mum are planting garlic. Use the interactivity to help
you find out how many cloves of garlic they might have had.
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?
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?
What do the digits in the number fifteen add up to? How many other
numbers have digits with the same total but no zeros?
This activity investigates how you might make squares and pentominoes from Polydron.
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
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.
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
Can you substitute numbers for the letters in these sums?
10 space travellers are waiting to board their spaceships. There
are two rows of seats in the waiting room. Using the rules, where
are they all sitting? Can you find all the possible ways?
Swap the stars with the moons, using only knights' moves (as on a
chess board). What is the smallest number of moves possible?
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train
can continue its journey?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?
Kate has eight multilink cubes. She has two red ones, two yellow, two green and two blue. She wants to fit them together to make a cube so that each colour shows on each face just once.
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?
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 triangles can you make on the 3 by 3 pegboard?
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?
Choose four different digits from 1-9 and put one in each box so that the resulting four two-digit numbers add to a total of 100.
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots
on the 8-point circle?
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?
A dog is looking for a good place to bury his bone. Can you work
out where he started and ended in each case? What possible routes
could he have taken?
Can you order pictures of the development of a frog from frogspawn
and of a bean seed growing into a plant?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
What two-digit numbers can you make with these two dice? What can't you make?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
How could you put these three beads into bags? How many different ways can you do it? How could you record what you've done?
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
In a square in which the houses are evenly spaced, numbers 3 and 10
are opposite each other. What is the smallest and what is the
largest possible number of houses in the square?
Building up a simple Celtic knot. Try the interactivity or download
the cards or have a go on squared paper.