In this article for teachers, Elizabeth Carruthers and Maulfry Worthington explore the differences between 'recording mathematics' and 'representing mathematical thinking'.
Can you draw a continuous line through 16 numbers on this grid so
that the total of the numbers you pass through is as high as
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
In this 100 square, look at the green square which contains the numbers 2, 3, 12 and 13. What is the sum of the numbers that are diagonally opposite each other? What do you notice?
Put operations signs between the numbers 3 4 5 6 to make the highest possible number and lowest possible number.
Number problems at primary level that require careful consideration.
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your opponent.
These caterpillars have 16 parts. What different shapes do they make if each part lies in the small squares of a 4 by 4 square?
On the table there is a pile of oranges and lemons that weighs
exactly one kilogram. Using the information, can you work out how
many lemons there are?
This group activity will encourage you to share calculation strategies and to think about which strategy might be the most efficient.
Use 4 four times with simple operations so that you get the answer 12. Can you make 15, 16 and 17 too?
Can you each work out the number on your card? What do you notice?
How could you sort the cards?
Annie cut this numbered cake into 3 pieces with 3 cuts so that the
numbers on each piece added to the same total. Where were the cuts
and what fraction of the whole cake was each piece?
Find out what a Deca Tree is and then work out how many leaves
there will be after the woodcutter has cut off a trunk, a branch, a
twig and a leaf.
Use these head, body and leg pieces to make Robot Monsters which are different heights.
Rocco ran in a 200 m race for his class. Use the information to
find out how many runners there were in the race and what Rocco's
finishing position was.
Using 3 rods of integer lengths, none longer than 10 units and not
using any rod more than once, you can measure all the lengths in
whole units from 1 to 10 units. How many ways can you do this?
Complete these two jigsaws then put one on top of the other. What
happens when you add the 'touching' numbers? What happens when you
change the position of the jigsaws?
Use the interactivities to fill in these Carroll diagrams. How do you know where to place the numbers?
What happens when you add the digits of a number then multiply the result by 2 and you keep doing this? You could try for different numbers and different rules.
Put the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 into the squares so that the
numbers on each circle add up to the same amount. Can you find the
rule for giving another set of six numbers?
Max and Mandy put their number lines together to make a graph. How
far had each of them moved along and up from 0 to get the counter
to the place marked?
How have the numbers been placed in this Carroll diagram? Which labels would you put on each row and column?
On a calculator, make 15 by using only the 2 key and any of the
four operations keys. How many ways can you find to do it?
Fill in the numbers to make the sum of each row, column and
diagonal equal to 15.
What is happening at each box in these machines?
Try adding together the dates of all the days in one week. Now
multiply the first date by 7 and add 21. Can you explain what
There are three buckets each of which holds a maximum of 5 litres.
Use the clues to work out how much liquid there is in each bucket.
Fill in the missing numbers so that adding each pair of corner
numbers gives you the number between them (in the box).
Fill in the numbers to make the sum of each row, column and
diagonal equal to 34. For an extra challenge try the huge American
Flag magic square.
Amy has a box containing domino pieces but she does not think it is a complete set. She has 24 dominoes in her box and there are 125 spots on them altogether. Which of her domino pieces are missing?
Use your logical reasoning to work out how many cows and how many
sheep there are in each field.
Can you substitute numbers for the letters in these sums?
Tell your friends that you have a strange calculator that turns
numbers backwards. What secret number do you have to enter to make
141 414 turn around?
Noah saw 12 legs walk by into the Ark. How many creatures did he see?
Who said that adding couldn't be fun?
Well now, what would happen if we lost all the nines in our number
system? Have a go at writing the numbers out in this way and have a
look at the multiplications table.
Place the digits 1 to 9 into the circles so that each side of the
triangle adds to the same total.
Can you score 100 by throwing rings on this board? Is there more
than way to do it?
Number problems at primary level to work on with others.
The value of the circle changes in each of the following problems. Can you discover its value in each problem?
On the planet Vuv there are two sorts of creatures. The Zios have 3 legs and the Zepts have 7 legs. The great planetary explorer Nico counted 52 legs. How many Zios and how many Zepts were there?
Cassandra, David and Lachlan are brothers and sisters. They range
in age between 1 year and 14 years. Can you figure out their exact
ages from the clues?
Can you hang weights in the right place to make the equaliser
Sam got into an elevator. He went down five floors, up six floors, down seven floors, then got out on the second floor. On what floor did he get on?
There were 22 legs creeping across the web. How many flies? How many spiders?
The clockmaker's wife cut up his birthday cake to look like a clock
face. Can you work out who received each piece?
On Planet Plex, there are only 6 hours in the day. Can you answer
these questions about how Arog the Alien spends his day?
If the answer's 2010, what could the question be?
Peter, Melanie, Amil and Jack received a total of 38 chocolate
eggs. Use the information to work out how many eggs each person