In this article for teachers, Elizabeth Carruthers and Maulfry Worthington explore the differences between 'recording mathematics' and 'representing mathematical thinking'.
Ben has five coins in his pocket. How much money might he have?
There are 78 prisoners in a square cell block of twelve cells. The
clever prison warder arranged them so there were 25 along each wall
of the prison block. How did he do it?
Place six toy ladybirds into the box so that there are two ladybirds in every column and every row.
Exactly 195 digits have been used to number the pages in a book.
How many pages does the book have?
Place the numbers 1 to 10 in the circles so that each number is the
difference between the two numbers just below it.
Write the numbers up to 64 in an interesting way so that the shape they make at the end is interesting, different, more exciting ... than just a square.
Look carefully at the numbers. What do you notice? Can you make
another square using the numbers 1 to 16, that displays the same
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?
Three children are going to buy some plants for their birthdays. They will plant them within circular paths. How could they do this?
In how many ways could Mrs Beeswax put ten coins into her three
puddings so that each pudding ended up with at least two coins?
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?
Find the sum of all three-digit numbers each of whose digits is
Can you substitute numbers for the letters in these sums?
Can you make square numbers by adding two prime numbers together?
Can you put the numbers 1 to 8 into the circles so that the four
calculations are correct?
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?
Place this "worm" on the 100 square and find the total of the four
squares it covers. Keeping its head in the same place, what other
totals can you make?
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.
A group of children are using measuring cylinders but they lose the labels. Can you help relabel them?
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?
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square
below so that each side adds to the same total.
Zumf makes spectacles for the residents of the planet Zargon, who
have either 3 eyes or 4 eyes. How many lenses will Zumf need to
make all the different orders for 9 families?
Find your way through the grid starting at 2 and following these
operations. What number do you end on?
Can you make a train the same length as Laura's but using three differently coloured rods? Is there only one way of doing it?
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 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 these head, body and leg pieces to make Robot Monsters which are different heights.
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
Number problems at primary level that require careful consideration.
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
Ram divided 15 pennies among four small bags. He could then pay any sum of money from 1p to 15p without opening any bag. How many pennies did Ram put in each bag?
What do the digits in the number fifteen add up to? How many other
numbers have digits with the same total but no zeros?
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.
What do you notice about the date 03.06.09? Or 08.01.09? This
challenge invites you to investigate some interesting dates
Using the statements, can you work out how many of each type of
rabbit there are in these pens?
Move from the START to the FINISH by moving across or down to the
next square. Can you find a route to make these totals?
Place the numbers 1 to 6 in the circles so that each number is the
difference between the two numbers just below it.
Can you put the numbers 1-5 in the V shape so that both 'arms' have the same total?
Use your logical-thinking skills to deduce how much Dan's crisps and ice-cream cost altogether.
These two group activities use mathematical reasoning - one is
numerical, one geometric.
You have 5 darts and your target score is 44. How many different
ways could you score 44?
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?
In your bank, you have three types of coins. The number of spots shows how much they are worth. Can you choose coins to exchange with the groups given to make the same total?
Roll two red dice and a green dice. Add the two numbers on the red dice and take away the number on the green. What are all the different possibilities that could come up?
This dice train has been made using specific rules. How many different trains can you make?
Find all the numbers that can be made by adding the dots on two dice.
This challenge focuses on finding the sum and difference of pairs of two-digit numbers.
Find the sum and difference between a pair of two-digit numbers. Now find the sum and difference between the sum and difference! What happens?
Can you arrange 5 different digits (from 0 - 9) in the cross in the