How can you arrange the 5 cubes so that you need the smallest number of Brush Loads of paint to cover them? Try with other numbers of cubes as well.
If you had 36 cubes, what different cuboids could you make?
How many models can you find which obey these rules?
Here are four cubes joined together. How many other arrangements of four cubes can you find? Can you draw them on dotty paper?
Take 5 cubes of one colour and 2 of another colour. How many different ways can you join them if the 5 must touch the table and the 2 must not touch the table?
How can you put five cereal packets together to make different shapes if you must put them face-to-face?
In how many ways can you fit two of these yellow triangles together? Can you predict the number of ways two blue triangles can be fitted together?
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.
How many shapes can you build from three red and two green cubes? Can you use what you've found out to predict the number for four red and two green?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
Let's say you can only use two different lengths - 2 units and 4 units. Using just these 2 lengths as the edges how many different cuboids can you make?
When newspaper pages get separated at home we have to try to sort them out and get things in the correct order. How many ways can we arrange these pages so that the numbering may be different?
A thoughtful shepherd used bales of straw to protect the area around his lambs. Explore how you can arrange the bales.
If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How will you know you've found them all?
Ana and Ross looked in a trunk in the attic. They found old cloaks and gowns, hats and masks. How many possible costumes could they make?
Penta people, the Pentominoes, always build their houses from five square rooms. I wonder how many different Penta homes you can create?
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.
When intergalactic Wag Worms are born they look just like a cube. Each year they grow another cube in any direction. Find all the shapes that five-year-old Wag Worms can be.
Arrange 9 red cubes, 9 blue cubes and 9 yellow cubes into a large 3 by 3 cube. No row or column of cubes must contain two cubes of the same colour.
If you have three circular objects, you could arrange them so that they are separate, touching, overlapping or inside each other. Can you investigate all the different possibilities?
Let's suppose that you are going to have a magazine which has 16 pages of A5 size. Can you find some different ways to make these pages? Investigate the pattern for each if you number the pages.
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?
Kate has eight multilink cubes. She has two red ones, two yellow, two green and two blue. She wants to fit them together to make a cube so that each colour shows on each face just once.
In this investigation, you must try to make houses using cubes. If the base must not spill over 4 squares and you have 7 cubes which stand for 7 rooms, what different designs can you come up with?
Suppose there is a train with 24 carriages which are going to be put together to make up some new trains. Can you find all the ways that this can be done?
The challenge here is to find as many routes as you can for a fence to go so that this town is divided up into two halves, each with 8 blocks.
These are the faces of Will, Lil, Bill, Phil and Jill. Use the clues to work out which name goes with each face.
How many rectangles can you find in this shape? Which ones are differently sized and which are 'similar'?
Using different numbers of sticks, how many different triangles are you able to make? Can you make any rules about the numbers of sticks that make the most triangles?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Can you draw a square in which the perimeter is numerically equal to the area?
Lolla bought a balloon at the circus. She gave the clown six coins to pay for it. What could Lolla have paid for the balloon?
This activity investigates how you might make squares and pentominoes from Polydron.
How many different shaped boxes can you design for 36 sweets in one layer? Can you arrange the sweets so that no sweets of the same colour are next to each other in any direction?
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?
How could you put eight beanbags in the hoops so that there are four in the blue hoop, five in the red and six in the yellow? Can you find all the ways of doing this?
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?
Suppose we allow ourselves to use three numbers less than 10 and multiply them together. How many different products can you find? How do you know you've got them all?
Investigate the different ways you could split up these rooms so that you have double the number.
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none can capture any of the others.
Investigate all the different squares you can make on this 5 by 5 grid by making your starting side go from the bottom left hand point. Can you find out the areas of all these squares?
How many DIFFERENT quadrilaterals can be made by joining the dots on the 8-point circle?
What is the greatest number of counters you can place on the grid below without four of them lying at the corners of a square?
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. . . .
Find all the different shapes that can be made by joining five equilateral triangles edge to edge.
10 space travellers are waiting to board their spaceships. There are two rows of seats in the waiting room. Using the rules, where are they all sitting? Can you find all the possible ways?
Roll two red dice and a green dice. Add the two numbers on the red dice and take away the number on the green. What are all the different possible answers?
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?
The ancient Egyptians were said to make right-angled triangles using a rope with twelve equal sections divided by knots. What other triangles could you make if you had a rope like this?
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps to have an ordered approach.