Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.
You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .
I added together some of my neighbours house numbers. Can you explain the patterns I noticed?
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the pattern continue?
Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .
Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3 digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
Four bags contain a large number of 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s. Pick any ten numbers from the bags above so that their total is 37.
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
Find some examples of pairs of numbers such that their sum is a factor of their product. eg. 4 + 12 = 16 and 4 × 12 = 48 and 16 is a factor of 48.
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but what if they were tilted?
A country has decided to have just two different coins, 3z and 5z coins. Which totals can be made? Is there a largest total that cannot be made? How do you know?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain why and prove it?
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .
This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
Great Granddad is very proud of his telegram from the Queen congratulating him on his hundredth birthday and he has friends who are even older than he is... When was he born?
Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten. Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single pile. The loser is the player who takes the last counter.
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?
A collection of games on the NIM theme
A game for 2 players
A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.
Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable. Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow paint on their faces?
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
We can show that (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1 by considering the area of an (x + 1) by (x + 1) square. Show in a similar way that (x + 2)² = x² + 4x + 4