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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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?

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.

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?

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?

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

Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?

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

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

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?

Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?

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.

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

Take any whole number between 1 and 999, add the squares of the digits to get a new number. Make some conjectures about what happens in general.

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.

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. . . .

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

What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?

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?

Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the pattern continue?

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 sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?

The triangle OMN has vertices on the axes with whole number co-ordinates. How many points with whole number coordinates are there on the hypotenuse MN?

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. . . .

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?

Choose any two numbers. Call them a and b. Work out the arithmetic mean and the geometric mean. Which is bigger? Repeat for other pairs of numbers. What do you notice?

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 moves.

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.

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

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?

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 opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?

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?

Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?

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

Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.

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.

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.

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. . . .