The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
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.
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
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.
Solve this Sudoku puzzle whose clues are in the form of sums of the
numbers which should appear in diagonal opposite cells.
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?
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?
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.
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.
This challenging activity involves finding different ways to distribute fifteen items among four sets, when the sets must include three, four, five and six items.
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
A Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.
This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.
How many solutions can you find to this sum? Each of the different letters stands for a different number.
This tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.
Use the information to describe these marbles. What colours must be
on marbles that sparkle when rolling but are dark inside?
Can you put the 25 coloured tiles into the 5 x 5 square so that no column, no row and no diagonal line have tiles of the same colour in them?
Find out about Magic Squares in this article written for students. Why are they magic?!
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?
Ben and his mum are planting garlic. Use the interactivity to help
you find out how many cloves of garlic they might have had.
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. . . .
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?
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both
sides once you've made the pieces?
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of
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.
Place six toy ladybirds into the box so that there are two ladybirds in every column and every row.
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?
This challenge is about finding the difference between numbers which have the same tens digit.
Find the sum and difference between a pair of two-digit numbers. Now find the sum and difference between the sum and difference! What happens?
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?
Moira is late for school. What is the shortest route she can take from the school gates to the entrance?
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?
Can you put the numbers 1 to 8 into the circles so that the four
calculations are correct?
How many different ways can you find to join three equilateral
triangles together? Can you convince us that you have found them
Here are some rods that are different colours. How could I make a dark green rod using yellow and white rods?
Investigate the smallest number of moves it takes to turn these
mats upside-down if you can only turn exactly three at a time.
Cut four triangles from a square as shown in the picture. How many
different shapes can you make by fitting the four triangles back
Two children made up a game as they walked along the garden paths.
Can you find out their scores? Can you find some paths of your own?
Can you find all the different triangles on these peg boards, and
find their angles?
Try out the lottery that is played in a far-away land. What is the
chance of winning?
My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all
These eleven shapes each stand for a different number. Can you use the multiplication sums to work out what they are?
In how many ways could Mrs Beeswax put ten coins into her three
puddings so that each pudding ended up with at least two coins?
In Sam and Jill's garden there are two sorts of ladybirds with 7 spots or 4 spots. What numbers of total spots can you make?
Have a go at this well-known challenge. Can you swap the frogs and toads in as few slides and jumps as possible?
In this problem it is not the squares that jump, you do the jumping! The idea is to go round the track in as few jumps as possible.
We're excited about this new program for drawing beautiful mathematical designs. Can you work out how we made our first few pictures and, even better, share your most elegant solutions with us?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
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 challenge focuses on finding the sum and difference of pairs of two-digit numbers.