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.
This article for teachers suggests activities based on pegboards, from pattern generation to finding all possible triangles, for example.
Find all the numbers that can be made by adding the dots on two dice.
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.
Katie had a pack of 20 cards numbered from 1 to 20. She arranged
the cards into 6 unequal piles where each pile added to the same
total. What was the total and how could this be done?
Can you put the numbers 1-5 in the V shape so that both 'arms' have the same total?
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.
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.
Can you use the information to find out which cards I have used?
How could you arrange at least two dice in a stack so that the total of the visible spots is 18?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Using all ten cards from 0 to 9, rearrange them to make five prime
numbers. Can you find any other ways of doing it?
Here are four cubes joined together. How many other arrangements of four cubes can you find? Can you draw them on dotty paper?
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.
How many shapes can you build from three red and two green cubes? Can you use what you've found out to predict the number for four red and two green?
When you throw two regular, six-faced dice you have more chance of getting one particular result than any other. What result would that be? Why is this?
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?
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.
Roll two red dice and a green dice. Add the two numbers on the red dice and take away the number on the green. What are all the different possibilities that could come up?
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?
Tim had nine cards each with a different number from 1 to 9 on it. How could he have put them into three piles so that the total in each pile was 15?
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 challenge is to design different step arrangements, which must
go along a distance of 6 on the steps and must end up at 6 high.
Ten cards are put into five envelopes so that there are two cards in each envelope. The sum of the numbers inside it is written on each envelope. What numbers could be inside the envelopes?
Can you make dice stairs using the rules stated? How do you know you have all the possible stairs?
Using the cards 2, 4, 6, 8, +, - and =, what number statements can
A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
Explore the different snakes that can be made using 5 cubes.
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
In this investigation, you must try to make houses using cubes. If
the base must not spill over 4 squares and you have 7 cubes which
stand for 7 rooms, what different designs can you come up with?
If you had any number of ordinary dice, what are the possible ways
of making their totals 6? What would the product of the dice be
Penta people, the Pentominoes, always build their houses from five
square rooms. I wonder how many different Penta homes you can
This dice train has been made using specific rules. How many different trains can you make?
Suppose there is a train with 24 carriages which are going to be put together to make up some new trains. Can you find all the ways that this can be done?
These two group activities use mathematical reasoning - one is
numerical, one geometric.
Take three differently coloured blocks - maybe red, yellow and blue. Make a tower using one of each colour. How many different towers can you make?
If you had 36 cubes, what different cuboids could you make?
Use the interactivity to help get a feel for this problem and to find out all the possible ways the balls could land.
How many possible necklaces can you find? And how do you know you've found them all?
What is the largest 'ribbon square' you can make? And the smallest? How many different squares can you make altogether?
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?
Can you find all the different ways of lining up these Cuisenaire
In how many ways can you fit two of these yellow triangles
together? Can you predict the number of ways two blue triangles can
be fitted together?
How many trains can you make which are the same length as Matt's, using rods that are identical?
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.
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?
Here are some rods that are different colours. How could I make a dark green rod using yellow and white rods?
Alice's mum needs to go to each child's house just once and then
back home again. How many different routes are there? Use the
information to find out how long each road is on the route she
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. . . .