It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
This challenge asks you to imagine a snake coiling on itself.
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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. . . .
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
In each of the pictures the invitation is for you to: Count what you see. Identify how you think the pattern would continue.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
Take a counter and surround it by a ring of other counters that
MUST touch two others. How many are needed?
How can you arrange these 10 matches in four piles so that when you
move one match from three of the piles into the fourth, you end up
with the same arrangement?
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the
quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
Watch this film carefully. Can you find a general rule for
explaining when the dot will be this same distance from the
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Can you see why 2 by 2 could be 5? Can you predict what 2 by 10
Find some examples of pairs of numbers such that their sum is a
factor of their product. eg. 4 + 12 = 16 and 4 × 12 = 48 and
16 is a factor of 48.
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
Think of a number, square it and subtract your starting number. Is
the number you’re left with odd or even? How do the images
help to explain this?
These squares have been made from Cuisenaire rods. Can you describe
the pattern? What would the next square look like?
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players
take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single
pile. The winner is the player to take the last counter.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Place the numbers from 1 to 9 in the squares below so that the difference between joined squares is odd. How many different ways can you do this?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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?
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?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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.
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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
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.
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
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
In this game for two players, the idea is to take it in turns to choose 1, 3, 5 or 7. The winner is the first to make the total 37.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
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?
Find a route from the outside to the inside of this square, stepping on as many tiles as possible.
Strike it Out game for an adult and child. Can you stop your partner from being able to go?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?