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Algebra Match

Age 11 to 16
Challenge Level

This is one of a series of problems designed to develop learners' team working skills. Other tasks in the series can be found by going to this article.
Cards image

What are you aiming to do?

For the task:

Every member of the team has to end up with a set of four cards in front of them that are related to each other in a similar way. The task is only successfully completed when everyone on the team has completed their set.

As a team:

  • Responding to the needs of others
  • Helping others to do things for themselves.

Getting started

You will need to work in a team of four. If you have a fifth person available - use them as an observer (see guidance below).
In silence:
Distribute the 16 cards randomly amongst the team (four cards each).

Tackling the Problem

How to play

Players pass cards to other team members in order to help one another complete their set.


  • No one can talk or give non-verbal signals to other members of the team.
  • Each member of the team starts with four cards in front of them.
  • The cards in front of each person should be visible to everyone.
  • Team members can only give cards; they cannot take cards from someone else.
  • Each team member must have at least two cards in front of them at all times.

Use an observer to check that the team obeys the rules and to keep a record of when members of the team help someone else (rather than, for example, when they just pass a piece on without looking at what the other person or the team actually needs).