It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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 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 find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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?
Polygons drawn on square dotty paper have dots on their perimeter
(p) and often internal (i) ones as well. Find a relationship
between p, i and the area of the polygons.
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 dissect a square into: 4, 7, 10, 13... other squares? 6, 9,
12, 15... other squares? 8, 11, 14... other squares?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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 tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of
adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain
why and prove it?
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle
numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
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.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
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. . . .
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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. . . .
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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?
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
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.
Explore the effect of reflecting in two parallel mirror lines.
A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
The diagram shows a 5 by 5 geoboard with 25 pins set out in a square array. Squares are made by stretching rubber bands round specific pins. What is the total number of squares that can be made on a. . . .
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
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?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.
Explore the effect of combining enlargements.
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten.
Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .
With one cut a piece of card 16 cm by 9 cm can be made into two pieces which can be rearranged to form a square 12 cm by 12 cm. Explain how this can be done.
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
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. . . .
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?
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. . . .
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. . . .