The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.
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.
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.
A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.
This tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.
A challenging activity focusing on finding all possible ways of stacking rods.
Use the information to describe these marbles. What colours must be on marbles that sparkle when rolling but are dark inside?
Can you arrange the digits 1, 1, 2, 2, 3 and 3 to make a Number Sandwich?
The idea of this game is to add or subtract the two numbers on the dice and cover the result on the grid, trying to get a line of three. Are there some numbers that are good to aim for?
Solve this Sudoku puzzle whose clues are in the form of sums of the numbers which should appear in diagonal opposite cells.
Try this matching game which will help you recognise different ways of saying the same time interval.
This challenging activity involves finding different ways to distribute fifteen items among four sets, when the sets must include three, four, five and six items.
Choose four different digits from 1-9 and put one in each box so that the resulting four two-digit numbers add to a total of 100.
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of your own.
Arrange the four number cards on the grid, according to the rules, to make a diagonal, vertical or horizontal line.
This challenge, written for the Young Mathematicians' Award, invites you to explore 'centred squares'.
There is a long tradition of creating mazes throughout history and across the world. This article gives details of mazes you can visit and those that you can tackle on paper.
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?
Ben and his mum are planting garlic. Use the interactivity to help you find out how many cloves of garlic they might have had.
A Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.
An investigation involving adding and subtracting sets of consecutive numbers. Lots to find out, lots to explore.
This cube has ink on each face which leaves marks on paper as it is rolled. Can you work out what is on each face and the route it has taken?
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both sides once you've made the pieces?
This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.
Can you put the 25 coloured tiles into the 5 x 5 square so that no column, no row and no diagonal line have tiles of the same colour in them?
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.
Two children made up a game as they walked along the garden paths. Can you find out their scores? Can you find some paths of your own?
What can you say about these shapes? This problem challenges you to create shapes with different areas and perimeters.
Tom and Ben visited Numberland. Use the maps to work out the number of points each of their routes scores.
Moira is late for school. What is the shortest route she can take from the school gates to the entrance?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all the buttons?
Try out the lottery that is played in a far-away land. What is the chance of winning?
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.
Nina must cook some pasta for 15 minutes but she only has a 7-minute sand-timer and an 11-minute sand-timer. How can she use these timers to measure exactly 15 minutes?
Start with three pairs of socks. Now mix them up so that no mismatched pair is the same as another mismatched pair. Is there more than one way to do it?
El Crico the cricket has to cross a square patio to get home. He can jump the length of one tile, two tiles and three tiles. Can you find a path that would get El Crico home in three jumps?
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How will you know you've found them all?
Find all the numbers that can be made by adding the dots on two dice.
If you put three beads onto a tens/ones abacus you could make the numbers 3, 30, 12 or 21. What numbers can be made with six beads?
A merchant brings four bars of gold to a jeweller. How can the jeweller use the scales just twice to identify the lighter, fake bar?
In how many ways could Mrs Beeswax put ten coins into her three puddings so that each pudding ended up with at least two coins?
Using the cards 2, 4, 6, 8, +, - and =, what number statements can you make?
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps if you have an ordered approach.
These activities focus on finding all possible solutions so working in a systematic way will ensure none are left out.
Can you find all the different triangles on these peg boards, and find their angles?
Have a go at this well-known challenge. Can you swap the frogs and toads in as few slides and jumps as possible?
Can you put the numbers 1 to 8 into the circles so that the four calculations are correct?
Find out about Magic Squares in this article written for students. Why are they magic?!
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?