An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
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?
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?
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
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?
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.
What can you say about these shapes? This problem challenges you to
create shapes with different areas and perimeters.
These practical challenges are all about making a 'tray' and covering it with paper.
This activity investigates how you might make squares and pentominoes from Polydron.
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?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Using the statements, can you work out how many of each type of
rabbit there are in these pens?
There are 44 people coming to a dinner party. There are 15 square
tables that seat 4 people. Find a way to seat the 44 people using
all 15 tables, with no empty places.
Can you put plus signs in so this is true? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 = 99
How many ways can you do it?
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?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
How many triangles can you make on the 3 by 3 pegboard?
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.
Can you draw a square in which the perimeter is numerically equal
to the area?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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
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.
Swap the stars with the moons, using only knights' moves (as on a
chess board). What is the smallest number of moves possible?
Place eight dots on this diagram, so that there are only two dots
on each straight line and only two dots on each circle.
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train
can continue its journey?
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
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?
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!
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none
can capture any of the others.
Can you help the children find the two triangles which have the
lengths of two sides numerically equal to their areas?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area
around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
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?
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots
on the 8-point circle?
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
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!
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square
below so that each side adds to the same total.
Can you order pictures of the development of a frog from frogspawn
and of a bean seed growing into a plant?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Building up a simple Celtic knot. Try the interactivity or download
the cards or have a go on squared paper.
Tom and Ben visited Numberland. Use the maps to work out the number
of points each of their routes scores.
In this game for two players, you throw two dice and find the product. How many shapes can you draw on the grid which have that area or perimeter?