Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
A collection of games on the NIM theme
Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?
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.
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 loser is the player who takes the last counter.
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of
11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
Take any two digit number, for example 58. What do you have to do to reverse the order of the digits? Can you find a rule for reversing the order of digits for any two digit number?
Can you explain the surprising results Jo found when she calculated
the difference between square numbers?
Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take
three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then
add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .
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
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on
the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you
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?
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?
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3
digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits
you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
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. . . .
Jo has three numbers which she adds together in pairs. When she
does this she has three different totals: 11, 17 and 22 What are
the three numbers Jo had to start with?”
Sets of integers like 3, 4, 5 are called Pythagorean Triples, because they could be the lengths of the sides of a right-angled triangle. Can you find any more?
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
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. . . .
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. . . .
An account of some magic squares and their properties and and how to construct them for yourself.
A game for 2 players
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
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?
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.
Charlie likes tablecloths that use as many colours as possible, but insists that his tablecloths have some symmetry. Can you work out how many colours he needs for different tablecloth designs?
Is there a relationship between the coordinates of the endpoints of a line and the number of grid squares it crosses?
A game for 2 players. Set out 16 counters in rows of 1,3,5 and 7.
Players take turns to remove any number of counters from a row. The
player left with the last counter looses.
What is the volume of the solid formed by rotating this right
angled triangle about the hypotenuse?
These gnomons appear to have more than a passing connection with
the Fibonacci sequence. This problem ask you to investigate some of
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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.
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.
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
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.
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. . . .
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.
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. . . .
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.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to
explain why this is possible.