Bernard Bagnall recommends some primary school problems which use
numbers from the environment around us, from clocks to house
Where can you draw a line on a clock face so that the numbers on
both sides have the same total?
Skippy and Anna are locked in a room in a large castle. The key to that room, and all the other rooms, is a number. The numbers are locked away in a problem. Can you help them to get out?
EWWNP means Exploring Wild and Wonderful Number Patterns Created by Yourself! Investigate what happens if we create number patterns using some simple rules.
Lolla bought a balloon at the circus. She gave the clown six coins
to pay for it. What could Lolla have paid for the balloon?
There is a clock-face where the numbers have become all mixed up. Can you find out where all the numbers have got to from these ten statements?
Woof is a big dog. Yap is a little dog.
Emma has 16 dog biscuits to give to the two dogs.
She gave Woof 4 more biscuits than Yap.
How many biscuits did each dog get?
Can you score 100 by throwing rings on this board? Is there more
than way to do it?
Can you work out how many flowers there will be on the Amazing Splitting Plant after it has been growing for six weeks?
What is happening at each box in these machines?
There were 22 legs creeping across the web. How many flies? How many spiders?
Winifred Wytsh bought a box each of jelly babies, milk jelly bears,
yellow jelly bees and jelly belly beans. In how many different ways
could she make a jolly jelly feast with 32 legs?
Here are the prices for 1st and 2nd class mail within the UK. You have an unlimited number of each of these stamps. Which stamps would you need to post a parcel weighing 825g?
I throw three dice and get 5, 3 and 2. Add the scores on the three
dice. What do you get? Now multiply the scores. What do you notice?
There are three baskets, a brown one, a red one and a pink one, holding a total of 10 eggs. Can you use the information given to find out how many eggs are in each basket?
The Scot, John Napier, invented these strips about 400 years ago to
help calculate multiplication and division. Can you work out how to
use Napier's bones to find the answer to these multiplications?
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!
The value of the circle changes in each of the following problems. Can you discover its value in each problem?
There were chews for 2p, mini eggs for 3p, Chocko bars for 5p and
lollypops for 7p in the sweet shop. What could each of the children
buy with their money?
You have 5 darts and your target score is 44. How many different
ways could you score 44?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
Use 4 four times with simple operations so that you get the answer 12. Can you make 15, 16 and 17 too?
Mr. Sunshine tells the children they will have 2 hours of homework.
After several calculations, Harry says he hasn't got time to do
this homework. Can you see where his reasoning is wrong?
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!
Can you make square numbers by adding two prime numbers together?
The clockmaker's wife cut up his birthday cake to look like a clock
face. Can you work out who received each piece?
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?
Find at least one way to put in some operation signs (+ - x ÷)
to make these digits come to 100.
Use your logical-thinking skills to deduce how much Dan's crisps and ice-cream cost altogether.
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
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.
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?
Which times on a digital clock have a line of symmetry? Which look
the same upside-down? You might like to try this investigation and
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?
A game for 2 people. Use your skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to blast the asteroids.
Explore Alex's number plumber. What questions would you like to ask? Don't forget to keep visiting NRICH projects site for the latest developments and questions.
Can you find which shapes you need to put into the grid to make the
totals at the end of each row and the bottom of each column?
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.
This group activity will encourage you to share calculation strategies and to think about which strategy might be the most efficient.
Can you each work out the number on your card? What do you notice? How could you sort the cards?
If the answer's 2010, what could the question be?
How would you count the number of fingers in these pictures?
Explore Alex's number plumber. What questions would you like to ask? What do you think is happening to the numbers?
Tom and Ben visited Numberland. Use the maps to work out the number of points each of their routes scores.
This task combines spatial awareness with addition and multiplication.
This task follows on from Build it Up and takes the ideas into three dimensions!