Mathematics is the study of patterns. Studying pattern is an opportunity to observe, hypothesise, experiment, discover and create.
This article for teachers discusses examples of problems in which there is no obvious method but in which children can be encouraged to think deeply about the context and extend their ability to. . . .
Start with a large square, join the midpoints of its sides, you'll see four right angled triangles. Remove these triangles, a second square is left. Repeat the operation. What happens?
These are pictures of the sea defences at New Brighton. Can you work out what a basic shape might be in both images of the sea wall and work out a way they might fit together?
On the graph there are 28 marked points. These points all mark the vertices (corners) of eight hidden squares. Can you find the eight hidden squares?
What is the shape of wrapping paper that you would need to completely wrap this model?
Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.
Lyndon Baker describes how the Mobius strip and Euler's law can introduce pupils to the idea of topology.
Can you find a way of representing these arrangements of balls?
A game for 2 players. Can be played online. One player has 1 red counter, the other has 4 blue. The red counter needs to reach the other side, and the blue needs to trap the red.
A group activity using visualisation of squares and triangles.
Can you work out what kind of rotation produced this pattern of pegs in our pegboard?
Players take it in turns to choose a dot on the grid. The winner is the first to have four dots that can be joined to form a square.
The image in this problem is part of a piece of equipment found in the playground of a school. How would you describe it to someone over the phone?
In each of the pictures the invitation is for you to: Count what you see. Identify how you think the pattern would continue.
We start with one yellow cube and build around it to make a 3x3x3 cube with red cubes. Then we build around that red cube with blue cubes and so on. How many cubes of each colour have we used?
This practical problem challenges you to make quadrilaterals with a loop of string. You'll need some friends to help!
Find a way to cut a 4 by 4 square into only two pieces, then rejoin the two pieces to make an L shape 6 units high.
What is the greatest number of squares you can make by overlapping three squares?
Here are some arrangements of circles. How many circles would I need to make the next size up for each? Can you create your own arrangement and investigate the number of circles it needs?
Square It game for an adult and child. Can you come up with a way of always winning this game?
These points all mark the vertices (corners) of ten hidden squares. Can you find the 10 hidden squares?
What shape has Harry drawn on this clock face? Can you find its area? What is the largest number of square tiles that could cover this area?
What can you see? What do you notice? What questions can you ask?
Can you picture where this letter "F" will be on the grid if you flip it in these different ways?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the candle and sundial?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of Mai Ling and Chi Wing?
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 moves.
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of Little Ming and Little Fung dancing?
A game for 2 players. Given a board of dots in a grid pattern, players take turns drawing a line by connecting 2 adjacent dots. Your goal is to complete more squares than your opponent.
A hundred square has been printed on both sides of a piece of paper. What is on the back of 100? 58? 23? 19?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the workmen?
An extension of noughts and crosses in which the grid is enlarged and the length of the winning line can to altered to 3, 4 or 5.
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of this shape. How would you describe it?
Where can you put the mirror across the square so that you can still "see" the whole square? How many different positions are possible?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the chairs?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the lobster, yacht and cyclist?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of these clocks?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of the child walking home from school?
How can the same pieces of the tangram make this bowl before and after it was chipped? Use the interactivity to try and work out what is going on!
Reasoning about the number of matches needed to build squares that share their sides.
Investigate how the four L-shapes fit together to make an enlarged L-shape. You could explore this idea with other shapes too.
Which of these dice are right-handed and which are left-handed?
Can you cut a regular hexagon into two pieces to make a parallelogram? Try cutting it into three pieces to make a rhombus!
Can you arrange the shapes in a chain so that each one shares a face (or faces) that are the same shape as the one that follows it?
Here's a simple way to make a Tangram without any measuring or ruling lines.
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the watering can and man in a boat?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of the rocket?
Can you work out what shape is made when this piece of paper is folded up using the crease pattern shown?
I found these clocks in the Arts Centre at the University of Warwick intriguing - do they really need four clocks and what times would be ambiguous with only two or three of them?