Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?

The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.

A 2 by 3 rectangle contains 8 squares and a 3 by 4 rectangle contains 20 squares. What size rectangle(s) contain(s) exactly 100 squares? Can you find them all?

Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?

Four bags contain a large number of 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s. Pick any ten numbers from the bags above so that their total is 37.

Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?

Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?

How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?

Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?

We can show that (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1 by considering the area of an (x + 1) by (x + 1) square. Show in a similar way that (x + 2)² = x² + 4x + 4

Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?

For this challenge, you'll need to play Got It! Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?

Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?

Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?

One block is needed to make an up-and-down staircase, with one step up and one step down. How many blocks would be needed to build an up-and-down staircase with 5 steps up and 5 steps down?

How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?

A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.

The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?

A country has decided to have just two different coins, 3z and 5z coins. Which totals can be made? Is there a largest total that cannot be made? How do you know?

Can you dissect an equilateral triangle into 6 smaller ones? What number of smaller equilateral triangles is it NOT possible to dissect a larger equilateral triangle into?

Find a route from the outside to the inside of this square, stepping on as many tiles as possible.

Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?

Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.

Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?

It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...

It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but what if they were tilted?

Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.

Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.

This activity involves rounding four-digit numbers to the nearest thousand.

Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?

The sum of the numbers 4 and 1 [1/3] is the same as the product of 4 and 1 [1/3]; that is to say 4 + 1 [1/3] = 4 × 1 [1/3]. What other numbers have the sum equal to the product and can this be so for. . . .

In how many different ways can you break up a stick of 7 interlocking cubes? Now try with a stick of 8 cubes and a stick of 6 cubes.

Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow paint on their faces?

If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable. Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.

How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?

It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!

Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?

A package contains a set of resources designed to develop pupils’ mathematical thinking. This package places a particular emphasis on “generalising” and is designed to meet the. . . .

Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both has increased. How can this be so?

What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =

What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?

Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of your own.

How many centimetres of rope will I need to make another mat just like the one I have here?

Imagine you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights. How many of each weight would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg? What other averages could you have?

Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?