The Problem with Problem Solving

The focus of this feature is to show that every lesson can be a problem solving lesson. In planning for problem solving there are several areas to consider:

1. The type of problem you want to focus on
2. The problem-solving strategy or skill you wish the children to develop
3. The NRICH four stage problem-solving process

This feature offers ideas on all of these aspects and also links different NRICH activities to each.

There are also plenty more activities linked to the Curriculum Mapping Documents too.

Becoming a mathematical problem solver really is the point of doing mathematics, so this article offers ideas and strategies to ensure that every lesson can be a problem solving lesson.


Age 5 to 11 Challenge Level:
Can you make five differently sized squares from the interactive tangram pieces?

Same Length Trains 

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:
How many trains can you make which are the same length as Matt's and Katie's, using rods that are identical?

Find the Difference 

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:
Place the numbers 1 to 6 in the circles so that each number is the difference between the two numbers just below it.

How Would We Count? 

Age 5 to 11 Challenge Level:
An activity centred around observations of dots and how we visualise number arrangement patterns.

Build it Up 

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:
Can you find all the ways to get 15 at the top of this triangle of numbers? Many opportunities to work in different ways.

Zios and Zepts 

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:
On the planet Vuv there are two sorts of creatures. The Zios have 3 legs and the Zepts have 7 legs. The great planetary explorer Nico counted 52 legs. How many Zios and how many Zepts were there?

Teddy Town 

Age 5 to 14 Challenge Level:
There are nine teddies in Teddy Town - three red, three blue and three yellow. There are also nine houses, three of each colour. Can you put them on the map of Teddy Town according to the rules?

Tea Cups 

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:
Place the 16 different combinations of cup/saucer in this 4 by 4 arrangement so that no row or column contains more than one cup or saucer of the same colour.