Maths puzzles and games

Posted by Peter on 18th February 2013

A Maths Challenge: 12 to 15

I have not put up many challenges and investigations recently so I thought I would redress this over the coming weeks with some fun and challenging tasks. Using and Applying Maths has been a cornerstone of the Primary Framework for Mathematics and these kinds of activities are important in making children think through a problem and work in a logical, well organised way.

This challenge is actually in four parts, but one the first has been cracked the same method can be applied to the others.  A 3 by 3 square grid has the number 12 in the middle. The challenge is to place each of the digits from 1 to 8 around the grid so that each side across and down adds up to the middle number (12).

A really good way to approach this task is to cut out the numbers from 1 to 8 so that they can easily be moved around the grid. There are several different solutions to the task, but they all have a similar pattern.

Challenge 12 to 15

Posted by Peter on 18th May 2012

Maths board game: Four Stars

I shall be publishing some fantastic strategy games over the next few weeks which can really help children develop their logical thinking and predicting what will happen. This is a great little game that does not need a lot of equipment and only takes a short time to play, but can get quite addictive. It’s a good idea to test out if going first or second leads to any advantage, and if so how this can be maximised. I will leave it up to you to decide!

Two sets of four counters.
A playing board

This is a game for two people.
Each player has four counters.
The aim of the game is to get the four counters in a straight line.

The player going first places a counter on one of the circles.

Then the second player places one of his/her counters on a circle. This continues until all the counters have been placed.

If neither player has got 4 counters in a straight line then the first player slides a counter along a line to a circle that is not already covered.

The other player then slides a counter to an adjacent circle.  Counters can only move along one line into an empty space. They cannot jump over counters.

If a player cannot move a counter she/he misses a go.

This is best played at a fast pace and a time limit set for winning.

On the first page you will find a board which can be printed out onto card. It is a good idea to cut out and either laminate or ‘sticky back’ this board.

Four star

Posted by Peter on 8th July 2011

Maths game: Criss Cross 3 Addition (1)

This is a simple 2 player game suitable for children who are learning single figure addition facts.

Two sets of coloured counters and a calculator are needed.

Player 1 chooses two numbers from the list below.
Add the two numbers on the calculator. If the answer is on the grid place a red counter on that square.
Player 2 chooses two numbers from the list below and adds them on the calculator.   If the answer is on the grid place a blue counter on that square.
Once a number has been covered it cannot be covered again.
The winner is the first person to put three counters in a row, across, down or diagonally.

There is obviously a clear advantage in going first, but it also helps to know addition facts, as this takes the guesswork out of playing the game, which is really an advanced noughts and crosses.

Criss cross 3: Addition (1)


Posted by Peter on 28th February 2011

Maths board game: Make 31

This is a great game for two players to help with mental addition of small numbers. Each player takes it in turn to place a counter over one of the numbers. When a counter is paced on the board the number is added to a joint total. It is a good idea to write the totals down as you go along, or there might be a dispute!

Each player tries to make the total come to exactly 31. The player who does so is the winner.

If a player places a counter to make the total over 31 he/she loses.

This is a game of strategy and there are times when the total can not be reached (perhaps if all the ones have been covered).

Make 31

Posted by Peter on 20th December 2010

Balloon bursting puzzle

Here we have a nice little puzzle for older children. The Maths Ratty is holding a huge bunch of balloons with numbers on. All you have to do is work out which balloon is left when the three problems have been answered.

Children need to know a little bit about multiples, square numbers and prime numbers to do this, so it is aimed at the older primary age range. Good for a wet  break time leading up to Christmas.

Balloon bursting

Posted by Peter on 7th December 2010

Maths puzzles

With Christmas rapidly approaching and the unit plans finished for the term it is a great time to try out some maths puzzles which lead to a better knowledge of the subject and an improvement in logical thinking.

There are some great games and puzzles on the site for all aged children. The word searches are all on the themes of maths vocabuary and the maths wordsnakes are a challenge even for adults. These are also ideal for wet breaks and lunchtimes, or a dreary wet afternoon at home!

Go to our maths puzzles

Posted by Peter on 17th August 2010

Maths puzzle: One to nine (2)

Our first ‘One to Nine’ puzzle proved to be very popular so here is another. Aimed at upper juniors, (9-11 yr old) there are a few points to consider when getting started with these puzzles.

Firstly, the rules of Bodmas do not apply; the sentence is calculated in the order shown.

Secondly, each digit can only be used once.

Thirdly, if looking at a sentence such as a x b – c = 51, a x b can only be a maximum of 60 as the largest number to subtract is 9.

One to nine (2)

Posted by Peter on 19th July 2010

Maths puzzle: One to nine (1)

Here is a tricky little puzzle which is aimed at Year 6 or upper juniors (9/11). Ideal for wet breaks!

Using just the digits 1 to 9 complete the number sentences, both across and down, so that they are all correct.

A good knowledge of tables is needed, together with the ability to add and subtract mentally.

The hardest part of this puzzle is getting started and the best approach is to use trial and improvement by picking one row or column which can only have a limited number of possibilities. This might well not be the first row across or column down.

Looking at this particular puzzle the first row is a x b – c = 34. Start by looking at combinations of numbers that when multiplied make more than 34 (but not more than 43 as the maximum to subtract is 9) and then see which number can be subtracted to leave 34.

One to nine (1a)

Posted by Peter on 27th December 2009

Maths puzzle: Initial numbers answers


I bet you can’t wait to get the answers to those frustrating letters I put on the site last week. Well, here they are. Some are very simple, such as:

28 days in February or 1066 Battle of Hastings.

For the full answer list  click on the link.

Initials Numbers answers

Posted by Peter on 18th December 2009

Maths puzzle: Initial Numbers

initial numbers

It’s the last day of term and snowing quite heavily here so it looks as if there is no school at all for many children. Teachers will not be getting their pressies or having their last afternoon parties!

Oh well, here is a little puzzle for you to contemplate over the Christmas period.

Each number has some initials next to it. Just work out what the initials mean as the numbers are the clue.

For example:

7 D in a W is 7 Days in a Week

Some are these are pretty tricky and a score of 12 is good. Get them all right and you are a superstar indeed.

Answers after Christmas.

Thanks for all your comments and fun this year.

Maths Puzzle: initial numbers