This article introduces the idea of generic proof for younger children and illustrates how one example can offer a proof of a general result through unpacking its underlying structure.
Think of a number, square it and subtract your starting number. Is the number you’re left with odd or even? How do the images help to explain this?
You have 4 red and 5 blue counters. How many ways can they be placed on a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows columns and diagonals have an even number of red counters?
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?
Design an arrangement of display boards in the school hall which fits the requirements of different people.
In a square in which the houses are evenly spaced, numbers 3 and 10 are opposite each other. What is the smallest and what is the largest possible number of houses in the square?
Place the numbers 1, 2, 3,..., 9 one on each square of a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows and columns add up to a prime number. How many different solutions can you find?
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train can continue its journey?
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?
A game for 1 or 2 people. Use the interactive version, or play with friends. Try to round up as many counters as possible.
Can you find a way of counting the spheres in these arrangements?
How will you go about finding all the jigsaw pieces that have one peg and one hole?
Can you find ways of joining cubes together so that 28 faces are visible?
What happens when you try and fit the triomino pieces into these two grids?
Can you cover the camel with these pieces?
In each of the pictures the invitation is for you to: Count what you see. Identify how you think the pattern would continue.
Can you work out how many cubes were used to make this open box? What size of open box could you make if you had 112 cubes?
Can you shunt the trucks so that the Cattle truck and the Sheep truck change places and the Engine is back on the main line?
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.
This article for teachers describes how modelling number properties involving multiplication using an array of objects not only allows children to represent their thinking with concrete materials,. . . .
Can you see why 2 by 2 could be 5? Can you predict what 2 by 10 will be?
Imagine a wheel with different markings painted on it at regular intervals. Can you predict the colour of the 18th mark? The 100th mark?
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. . . .
Can you find a way of representing these arrangements of balls?
A magician took a suit of thirteen cards and held them in his hand face down. Every card he revealed had the same value as the one he had just finished spelling. How did this work?
Make one big triangle so the numbers that touch on the small triangles add to 10.
A game for two players. You'll need some counters.
What is the shape of wrapping paper that you would need to completely wrap this model?
Find your way through the grid starting at 2 and following these operations. What number do you end on?
This challenge involves eight three-cube models made from interlocking cubes. Investigate different ways of putting the models together then compare your constructions.
Lyndon Baker describes how the Mobius strip and Euler's law can introduce pupils to the idea of topology.
Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.
Cut four triangles from a square as shown in the picture. How many different shapes can you make by fitting the four triangles back 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?
A dog is looking for a good place to bury his bone. Can you work out where he started and ended in each case? What possible routes could he have taken?
Move just three of the circles so that the triangle faces in the opposite direction.
What happens when you turn these cogs? Investigate the differences between turning two cogs of different sizes and two cogs which are the same.
Can you make a 3x3 cube with these shapes made from small cubes?
Mathematics is the study of patterns. Studying pattern is an opportunity to observe, hypothesise, experiment, discover and create.
Here you see the front and back views of a dodecahedron. Each vertex has been numbered so that the numbers around each pentagonal face add up to 65. Can you find all the missing numbers?
This 100 square jigsaw is written in code. It starts with 1 and ends with 100. Can you build it up?
Take a rectangle of paper and fold it in half, and half again, to make four smaller rectangles. How many different ways can you fold it up?
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
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?
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?
A game for 1 person. Can you work out how the dice must be rolled from the start position to the finish? Play on line.
This task, written for the National Young Mathematicians' Award 2016, involves open-topped boxes made with interlocking cubes. Explore the number of units of paint that are needed to cover the boxes. . . .
When I fold a 0-20 number line, I end up with 'stacks' of numbers on top of each other. These challenges involve varying the length of the number line and investigating the 'stack totals'.
Watch this animation. What do you see? Can you explain why this happens?
A useful visualising exercise which offers opportunities for discussion and generalising, and which could be used for thinking about the formulae needed for generating the results on a spreadsheet.