Start with four numbers at the corners of a square and put the
total of two corners in the middle of that side. Keep going... Can
you estimate what the size of the last four numbers will be?
What happens when you add the digits of a number then multiply the
result by 2 and you keep doing this? You could try for different
numbers and different rules.
If the answer's 2010, what could the question be?
In this section from a calendar, put a square box around the 1st,
2nd, 8th and 9th. Add all the pairs of numbers. What do you notice
about the answers?
Explore Alex's number plumber. What questions would you like to ask? What do you think is happening to the numbers?
Ana and Ross looked in a trunk in the attic. They found old cloaks
and gowns, hats and masks. How many possible costumes could they
You cannot choose a selection of ice cream flavours that includes
totally what someone has already chosen. Have a go and find all the
different ways in which seven children can have ice cream.
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square
below so that each side adds to the same total.
This challenge asks you to investigate the total number of cards that would be sent if four children send one to all three others. How many would be sent if there were five children? Six?
48 is called an abundant number because it is less than the sum of
its factors (without itself). Can you find some more abundant
When newspaper pages get separated at home we have to try to sort
them out and get things in the correct order. How many ways can we
arrange these pages so that the numbering may be different?
These caterpillars have 16 parts. What different shapes do they make if each part lies in the small squares of a 4 by 4 square?
Investigate what happens when you add house numbers along a street
in different ways.
This problem is based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
The challenge here is to find as many routes as you can for a fence
to go so that this town is divided up into two halves, each with 8
Well now, what would happen if we lost all the nines in our number
system? Have a go at writing the numbers out in this way and have a
look at the multiplications table.
If you have three circular objects, you could arrange them so that
they are separate, touching, overlapping or inside each other. Can
you investigate all the different possibilities?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How
will you know you've found them all?
There are to be 6 homes built on a new development site. They could
be semi-detached, detached or terraced houses. How many different
combinations of these can you find?
In a Magic Square all the rows, columns and diagonals add to the 'Magic Constant'. How would you change the magic constant of this square?
Investigate this balance which is marked in halves. If you had a weight on the left-hand 7, where could you hang two weights on the right to make it balance?
Explore ways of colouring this set of triangles. Can you make
In my local town there are three supermarkets which each has a
special deal on some products. If you bought all your shopping in
one shop, where would be the cheapest?
Here are many ideas for you to investigate - all linked with the
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
Take 5 cubes of one colour and 2 of another colour. How many
different ways can you join them if the 5 must touch the table and
the 2 must not touch the table?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Vincent and Tara are making triangles with the class construction set. They have a pile of strips of different lengths. How many different triangles can they make?
Suppose we allow ourselves to use three numbers less than 10 and
multiply them together. How many different products can you find?
How do you know you've got them all?
How could you put eight beanbags in the hoops so that there are
four in the blue hoop, five in the red and six in the yellow? Can
you find all the ways of doing this?
Let's say you can only use two different lengths - 2 units and 4
units. Using just these 2 lengths as the edges how many different
cuboids can you make?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so
that you have double the number.
Investigate the area of 'slices' cut off this cube of cheese. What
would happen if you had different-sized block of cheese to start
I like to walk along the cracks of the paving stones, but not the
outside edge of the path itself. How many different routes can you
find for me to take?
An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
In this investigation we are going to count the number of 1s, 2s,
3s etc in numbers. Can you predict what will happen?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
"Ip dip sky blue! Who's 'it'? It's you!" Where would you position yourself so that you are 'it' if there are two players? Three players ...?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
This problem is intended to get children to look really hard at something they will see many times in the next few months.
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
Take a look at these data collected by children in 1986 as part of the Domesday Project. What do they tell you? What do you think about the way they are presented?
When Charlie asked his grandmother how old she is, he didn't get a
straightforward reply! Can you work out how old she is?
Complete these two jigsaws then put one on top of the other. What
happens when you add the 'touching' numbers? What happens when you
change the position of the jigsaws?
What is the smallest number of tiles needed to tile this patio? Can
you investigate patios of different sizes?
The red ring is inside the blue ring in this picture. Can you
rearrange the rings in different ways? Perhaps you can overlap them
or put one outside another?
Can you find out how the 6-triangle shape is transformed in these
tessellations? Will the tessellations go on for ever? Why or why
How many tiles do we need to tile these patios?