This article suggests some ways of making sense of calculations involving positive and negative numbers.
Find the numbers in this sum
How many solutions can you find to this sum? Each of the different letters stands for a different number.
Different combinations of the weights available allow you to make different totals. Which totals can you make?
There are nasty versions of this dice game but we'll start with the nice ones...
Who said that adding couldn't be fun?
Find the values of the nine letters in the sum: FOOT + BALL = GAME
A combination mechanism for a safe comprises thirty-two tumblers
numbered from one to thirty-two in such a way that the numbers in
each wheel total 132... Could you open the safe?
The picture shows a lighthouse and many underwater creatures. If
you know the markings on the lighthouse are 1m apart, can you work
out the distances between some of the different creatures?
Five numbers added together in pairs produce: 0, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15 What are the five numbers?
The sum of the first 'n' natural numbers is a 3 digit number in which all the digits are the same. How many numbers have been summed?
If you wrote all the possible four digit numbers made by using each
of the digits 2, 4, 5, 7 once, what would they add up to?
You have four jugs of 9, 7, 4 and 2 litres capacity. The 9 litre
jug is full of wine, the others are empty. Can you divide the wine
into three equal quantities?
What is the largest number you can make using the three digits 2, 3
and 4 in any way you like, using any operations you like? You can
only use each digit once.
Choose four different digits from 1-9 and put one in each box so that the resulting four two-digit numbers add to a total of 100.
Can you arrange the digits 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 into three 3-digit
numbers such that their total is close to 1500?
There are exactly 3 ways to add 4 odd numbers to get 10. Find all
the ways of adding 8 odd numbers to get 20. To be sure of getting
all the solutions you will need to be systematic. What about. . . .
Whenever two chameleons of different colours meet they change
colour to the third colour. Describe the shortest sequence of
meetings in which all the chameleons change to green if you start
with 12. . . .
In this game, you can add, subtract, multiply or divide the numbers
on the dice. Which will you do so that you get to the end of the
number line first?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
A game for 2 or more players with a pack of cards. Practise your
skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to hit
the target score.
This challenge is to make up YOUR OWN alphanumeric. Each letter
represents a digit and where the same letter appears more than once
it must represent the same digit each time.
Use your logical reasoning to work out how many cows and how many
sheep there are in each field.
Investigate $1^n + 19^n + 20^n + 51^n + 57^n + 80^n + 82^n $ and $2^n + 12^n + 31^n + 40^n + 69^n + 71^n + 85^n$ for different values of n.
How can we help students make sense of addition and subtraction of negative numbers?
Start by putting one million (1 000 000) into the display of your
calculator. Can you reduce this to 7 using just the 7 key and add,
subtract, multiply, divide and equals as many times as you like?
This is an adding game for two players.
Using some or all of the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and using the digits 3, 3, 8 and 8 each once and only once make an expression equal to 24.
The letters in the following addition sum represent the digits 1
... 9. If A=3 and D=2, what number is represented by "CAYLEY"?
When I type a sequence of letters my calculator gives the product
of all the numbers in the corresponding memories. What numbers
should I store so that when I type 'ONE' it returns 1, and when I
type. . . .
In this game the winner is the first to complete a row of three. Are some squares easier to land on than others?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Find the sum of all three-digit numbers each of whose digits is
If you take a three by three square on a 1-10 addition square and
multiply the diagonally opposite numbers together, what is the
difference between these products. Why?
Here is a chance to play a version of the classic Countdown Game.
Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for an adult and child. Use your knowledge of place value to beat your opponent.
Find a great variety of ways of asking questions which make 8.
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.
Number problems at primary level to work on with others.
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both
sides once you've made the pieces?
If each of these three shapes has a value, can you find the totals
of the combinations? Perhaps you can use the shapes to make the
What is the sum of all the digits in all the integers from one to
Crosses can be drawn on number grids of various sizes. What do you notice when you add opposite ends?
An investigation involving adding and subtracting sets of consecutive numbers. Lots to find out, lots to explore.
Where can you draw a line on a clock face so that the numbers on
both sides have the same total?
Mrs Morgan, the class's teacher, pinned numbers onto the backs of
three children. Use the information to find out what the three
A lady has a steel rod and a wooden pole and she knows the length
of each. How can she measure out an 8 unit piece of pole?
What is happening at each box in these machines?
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?
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?