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?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
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?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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.
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of
squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle
numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number
you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number
you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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?
Charlie and Lynne 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
A game for 2 players
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.
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.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
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?
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
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?
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?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
What would be the smallest number of moves needed to move a Knight
from a chess set from one corner to the opposite corner of a 99 by
99 square board?
Start with two numbers. This is the start of a sequence. The next
number is the average of the last two numbers. Continue the
sequence. What will happen if you carry on for ever?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
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?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .
In how many ways can you arrange three dice side by side on a
surface so that the sum of the numbers on each of the four faces
(top, bottom, front and back) is equal?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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. . . .
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
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
Take any two positive numbers. Calculate the arithmetic and geometric means. Repeat the calculations to generate a sequence of arithmetic means and geometric means. Make a note of what happens to the. . . .
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. . . .
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.