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.
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.
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.
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.
An investigation involving adding and subtracting sets of consecutive numbers. Lots to find out, lots to explore.
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both sides once you've made the pieces?
A challenging activity focusing on finding all possible ways of stacking rods.
Solve this Sudoku puzzle whose clues are in the form of sums of the numbers which should appear in diagonal opposite cells.
Arrange the four number cards on the grid, according to the rules, to make a diagonal, vertical or horizontal line.
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?
Use the information to describe these marbles. What colours must be on marbles that sparkle when rolling but are dark inside?
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of your own.
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.
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.
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.
Can you arrange the digits 1, 1, 2, 2, 3 and 3 to make a Number Sandwich?
This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.
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.
This tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.
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?
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?
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 particular technique for solving Sudoku puzzles, known as "naked pair", is explained in this easy-to-read article.
A Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.
Try this matching game which will help you recognise different ways of saying the same time interval.
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps if you have an ordered approach.
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Tom and Ben visited Numberland. Use the maps to work out the number of points each of their routes scores.
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.
Using the cards 2, 4, 6, 8, +, - and =, what number statements can you make?
Moira is late for school. What is the shortest route she can take from the school gates to the entrance?
Try out the lottery that is played in a far-away land. What is the chance of winning?
My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all the buttons?
Can you put the numbers from 1 to 15 on the circles so that no consecutive numbers lie anywhere along a continuous straight line?
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps to have an ordered approach.
Can you find all the different triangles on these peg boards, and find their angles?
Find out about Magic Squares in this article written for students. Why are they magic?!
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?
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?
Imagine that the puzzle pieces of a jigsaw are roughly a rectangular shape and all the same size. How many different puzzle pieces could there be?
These activities focus on finding all possible solutions so working in a systematic way will ensure none are left out.
Have a go at this well-known challenge. Can you swap the frogs and toads in as few slides and jumps as possible?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
This challenge is to design different step arrangements, which must go along a distance of 6 on the steps and must end up at 6 high.
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.
This problem is based on a code using two different prime numbers less than 10. You'll need to multiply them together and shift the alphabet forwards by the result. Can you decipher the code?
Here are four cubes joined together. How many other arrangements of four cubes can you find? Can you draw them on dotty paper?
Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.