In this article for teachers, Elizabeth Carruthers and Maulfry Worthington explore the differences between 'recording mathematics' and 'representing mathematical thinking'.
EWWNP means Exploring Wild and Wonderful Number Patterns Created by Yourself! Investigate what happens if we create number patterns using some simple rules.
How many starfish could there be on the beach, and how many children, if I can see 28 arms?
Place the numbers 1 to 10 in the circles so that each number is the difference between the two numbers just below it.
Find another number that is one short of a square number and when you double it and add 1, the result is also a square number.
There are 44 people coming to a dinner party. There are 15 square tables that seat 4 people. Find a way to seat the 44 people using all 15 tables, with no empty places.
On a calculator, make 15 by using only the 2 key and any of the four operations keys. How many ways can you find to do it?
What do you notice about these squares of numbers? What is the same? What is different?
Fill in the missing numbers so that adding each pair of corner numbers gives you the number between them (in the box).
This magic square has operations written in it, to make it into a maze. Start wherever you like, go through every cell and go out a total of 15!
The clockmaker's wife cut up his birthday cake to look like a clock face. Can you work out who received each piece?
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?
Woof is a big dog. Yap is a little dog. Emma has 16 dog biscuits to give to the two dogs. She gave Woof 4 more biscuits than Yap. How many biscuits did each dog get?
The Scot, John Napier, invented these strips about 400 years ago to help calculate multiplication and division. Can you work out how to use Napier's bones to find the answer to these multiplications?
Can you arrange fifteen dominoes so that all the touching domino pieces add to 6 and the ends join up? Can you make all the joins add to 7?
Find the sum of all three-digit numbers each of whose digits is odd.
Choose four of the numbers from 1 to 9 to put in the squares so that the differences between joined squares are odd.
Twizzle, a female giraffe, needs transporting to another zoo. Which route will give the fastest journey?
Start by putting one million (1 000 000) into the display of your calculator. Can you reduce this to 7 using just the 7 key and add, subtract, multiply, divide and equals as many times as you like?
Using the statements, can you work out how many of each type of rabbit there are in these pens?
Number problems at primary level that may require resilience.
Choose a symbol to put into the number sentence.
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?
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 article for primary teachers encourages exploration of two fundamental ideas, exchange and 'unitising', which will help children become more fluent when calculating.
Three children are going to buy some plants for their birthdays. They will plant them within circular paths. How could they do this?
Try out this number trick. What happens with different starting numbers? What do you notice?
Cherri, Saxon, Mel and Paul are friends. They are all different ages. Can you find out the age of each friend using the information?
Can you arrange 5 different digits (from 0 - 9) in the cross in the way described?
Look on the back of any modern book and you will find an ISBN code. Take this code and calculate this sum in the way shown. Can you see what the answers always have in common?
Look carefully at the numbers. What do you notice? Can you make another square using the numbers 1 to 16, that displays the same properties?
Investigate the totals you get when adding numbers on the diagonal of this pattern in threes.
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square below so that each side adds to the same total.
Zumf makes spectacles for the residents of the planet Zargon, who have either 3 eyes or 4 eyes. How many lenses will Zumf need to make all the different orders for 9 families?
Move from the START to the FINISH by moving across or down to the next square. Can you find a route to make these totals?
This investigates one particular property of number by looking closely at an example of adding two odd numbers together.
A game for 2 people. Use your skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to blast the asteroids.
A game for 2 people using a pack of cards Turn over 2 cards and try to make an odd number or a multiple of 3.
Can you draw a continuous line through 16 numbers on this grid so that the total of the numbers you pass through is as high as possible?
Ben’s class were cutting up number tracks. First they cut them into twos and added up the numbers on each piece. What patterns could they see?
I was looking at the number plate of a car parked outside. Using my special code S208VBJ adds to 65. Can you crack my code and use it to find out what both of these number plates add up to?
Use your logical-thinking skills to deduce how much Dan's crisps and ice-cream cost altogether.
These two group activities use mathematical reasoning - one is numerical, one geometric.
Some additional activities to develop children's understanding of addition and subtraction of number through playing with number.
A number game requiring a strategy.
In this section from a calendar, put a square box around the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th. Add all the pairs of numbers. What do you notice about the answers?
I throw three dice and get 5, 3 and 2. Add the scores on the three dice. What do you get? Now multiply the scores. What do you notice?
Here are the prices for 1st and 2nd class mail within the UK. You have an unlimited number of each of these stamps. Which stamps would you need to post a parcel weighing 825g?
If each of these three shapes has a value, can you find the totals of the combinations? Perhaps you can use the shapes to make the given totals?