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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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?
A counter is placed in the bottom right hand corner of a grid. You
toss a coin and move the star according to the following rules: ...
What is the probability that you end up in the top left-hand. . . .
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. . . .
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.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
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.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
A game for 2 players with similaritlies to NIM. Place one counter on each spot on the games board. Players take it is turns to remove 1 or 2 adjacent counters. The winner picks up the last counter.
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.
Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems
give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical
concepts and skills. Read here for more information.
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.
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.
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
A game for 2 players
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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?
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. . . .
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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?
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.
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
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. . . .
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
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. . . .
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?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
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.
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
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?
Jo made a cube from some smaller cubes, painted some of the faces
of the large cube, and then took it apart again. 45 small cubes had
no paint on them at all. How many small cubes did Jo use?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of
11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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?
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?