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?
The challenge here is to find as many routes as you can for a fence
to go so that this town is divided up into two halves, each with 8
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.
Ana and Ross looked in a trunk in the attic. They found old cloaks
and gowns, hats and masks. How many possible costumes could they
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all
When newspaper pages get separated at home we have to try to sort
them out and get things in the correct order. How many ways can we
arrange these pages so that the numbering may be different?
A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
My briefcase has a three-number combination lock, but I have
forgotten the combination. I remember that there's a 3, a 5 and an
8. How many possible combinations are there to try?
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?
Explore the different snakes that can be made using 5 cubes.
The Red Express Train usually has five red carriages. How many ways
can you find to add two blue carriages?
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?
Lorenzie was packing his bag for a school trip. He packed four
shirts and three pairs of pants. "I will be able to have a
different outfit each day", he said. How many days will Lorenzie be
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.
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.
What is the largest 'ribbon square' you can make? And the smallest? How many different squares can you make altogether?
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.
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?
Are all the possible combinations of two shapes included in this
set of 27 cards? How do you know?
These practical challenges are all about making a 'tray' and covering it with paper.
If you have three circular objects, you could arrange them so that
they are separate, touching, overlapping or inside each other. Can
you investigate all the different possibilities?
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?
El Crico the cricket has to cross a square patio to get home. He
can jump the length of one tile, two tiles and three tiles. Can you
find a path that would get El Crico home in three jumps?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Can you draw a square in which the perimeter is numerically equal
to the area?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
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!
A merchant brings four bars of gold to a jeweller. How can the
jeweller use the scales just twice to identify the lighter, fake
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?
How could you put eight beanbags in the hoops so that there are
four in the blue hoop, five in the red and six in the yellow? Can
you find all the ways of doing this?
Moira is late for school. What is the shortest route she can take from the school gates to the entrance?
Place the numbers 1 to 8 in the circles so that no consecutive
numbers are joined by a line.
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
These activities focus on finding all possible solutions so working in a systematic way will ensure none are left out.
Here are four cubes joined together. How many other arrangements of
four cubes can you find? Can you draw them on dotty paper?
What could the half time scores have been in these Olympic hockey
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps to have an ordered approach.
Find the product of the numbers on the routes from A to B. Which
route has the smallest product? Which the largest?
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 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
Can you put the numbers 1 to 8 into the circles so that the four
calculations are correct?
Can you order pictures of the development of a frog from frogspawn
and of a bean seed growing into a plant?
Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no
consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?
Investigate all the different squares you can make on this 5 by 5
grid by making your starting side go from the bottom left hand
point. Can you find out the areas of all these squares?
My cube has inky marks on each face. Can you find the route it has
taken? What does each face look like?
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps if you have an ordered approach.
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?