The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
This challenge asks you to imagine a snake coiling on itself.
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 all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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?
Take a counter and surround it by a ring of other counters that
MUST touch two others. How many are needed?
Use the interactivity to investigate what kinds of triangles can be
drawn on peg boards with different numbers of pegs.
Can you see why 2 by 2 could be 5? Can you predict what 2 by 10
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?
Watch this film carefully. Can you find a general rule for
explaining when the dot will be this same distance from the
These squares have been made from Cuisenaire rods. Can you describe
the pattern? What would the next square look like?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the
quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
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.
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
In each of the pictures the invitation is for you to: Count what you see. Identify how you think the pattern would continue.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
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.
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?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
Consider all two digit numbers (10, 11, . . . ,99). In writing down
all these numbers, which digits occur least often, and which occur
most often ? What about three digit numbers, four digit numbers. . . .
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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?
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?
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of
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?
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
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
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?
Use your addition and subtraction skills, combined with some strategic thinking, to beat your partner at this game.
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right
hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with
a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a
layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
A collection of games on the NIM theme