This article for primary teachers suggests ways in which to help children become better at working systematically.
In this article, the NRICH team describe the process of selecting solutions for publication on the site.
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?
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?
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?
This article for teachers suggests activities based on pegboards, from pattern generation to finding all possible triangles, for example.
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.
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
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots
on the 8-point circle?
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.
Place the numbers 1 to 6 in the circles so that each number is the
difference between the two numbers just below it.
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
Place the numbers 1 to 10 in the circles so that each number is the
difference between the two numbers just below it.
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?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
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 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?
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both
sides once you've made the pieces?
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?
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.
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
Swap the stars with the moons, using only knights' moves (as on a
chess board). What is the smallest number of moves possible?
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?
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?
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train
can continue its journey?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Can you shunt the trucks so that the Cattle truck and the Sheep
truck change places and the Engine is back on the main line?
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.
This task, written for the National Young Mathematicians' Award 2016, involves open-topped boxes made with interlocking cubes. Explore the number of units of paint that are needed to cover the boxes. . . .
Can you work out how to balance this equaliser? You can put more
than one weight on a hook.
Building up a simple Celtic knot. Try the interactivity or download
the cards or have a go on squared paper.
Can you put the numbers 1 to 8 into the circles so that the four
calculations are correct?
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.
Can you substitute numbers for the letters in these sums?
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?
Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no
consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?
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?
Can you find the chosen number from the grid using the clues?
Is it possible to place 2 counters on the 3 by 3 grid so that there
is an even number of counters in every row and every column? How
about if you have 3 counters or 4 counters or....?
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?
Here are some rods that are different colours. How could I make a dark green rod using yellow and white rods?
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?
How many different triangles can you make on a circular pegboard that has nine pegs?
Are all the possible combinations of two shapes included in this
set of 27 cards? How do you know?
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.
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
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?