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?
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train
can continue its journey?
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?
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
Design an arrangement of display boards in the school hall which fits the requirements of different people.
Hover your mouse over the counters to see which ones will be
removed. Click to remover them. The winner is the last one to
remove a counter. How you can make sure you win?
A tetromino is made up of four squares joined edge to edge. Can
this tetromino, together with 15 copies of itself, be used to cover
an eight by eight chessboard?
A magician took a suit of thirteen cards and held them in his hand
face down. Every card he revealed had the same value as the one he
had just finished spelling. How did this work?
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?
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of
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 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.
You have 4 red and 5 blue counters. How many ways can they be
placed on a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows columns and diagonals
have an even number of red counters?
Swap the stars with the moons, using only knights' moves (as on a
chess board). What is the smallest number of moves possible?
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots
on the 8-point circle?
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?
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?
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the
quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
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?
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
Can you use this information to work out Charlie's house number?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Cut four triangles from a square as shown in the picture. How many
different shapes can you make by fitting the four triangles back
Building up a simple Celtic knot. Try the interactivity or download
the cards or have a go on squared paper.
These practical challenges are all about making a 'tray' and covering it with paper.
A merchant brings four bars of gold to a jeweller. How can the
jeweller use the scales just twice to identify the lighter, fake
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!
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?
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.
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps to have an ordered approach.
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Use the interactivity to listen to the bells ringing a pattern. Now
it's your turn! Play one of the bells yourself. How do you know
when it is your turn to ring?
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
Can you fill in this table square? The numbers 2 -12 were used to generate it with just one number used twice.
These are the faces of Will, Lil, Bill, Phil and Jill. Use the clues to work out which name goes with each face.
Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
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?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
What is the smallest number of coins needed to make up 12 dollars and 83 cents?
Using the statements, can you work out how many of each type of
rabbit there are in these pens?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
Starting with four different triangles, imagine you have an
unlimited number of each type. How many different tetrahedra can
you make? Convince us you have found them all.
Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no
consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?
This problem is based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
Add the sum of the squares of four numbers between 10 and 20 to the
sum of the squares of three numbers less than 6 to make the square
of another, larger, number.