Problem Solving

Just a quick update for our mathsticks+ members.

The Y2 version of the 'Marvellous Medicine' maths activity book is now available here.

At times it can be difficult to give children the chance to work at their own pace on mathematical activities. If the activity isn't pitched at the right level, or if it isn't engaging, the pace can fall and learning will be affected.

This is a common problem, which the majority of our mathsticks resources aims to solve. However, when we road tested this latest maths resource we were in for a shock. Read more »

Chocolate Maths Problem

Here's a quick maths problem with a chocolatey theme!

The problem is based on the notion that two rectangular chocolate bars have been broken into different shapes. The children have to use the given information to rebuild the chocolate bars. Read more »

Its back!

Findor's Quest has returned - bigger and better! What set out as an 'Hobbity Bonus' at the end of our Christmas 2012 eBook has grown into a full A5 trilogy.

Okay, here's the story: Findor is a Hobbit - a very, very distant relative to some of those more famous Hobbits you may have heard about. Read more »

school mathematics and magicThere are hundreds of versions of "Think of a Number..." tricks. This one is perfect for Friday 13th. When I used it some years ago, the children wanted to know how it was done, not just to satisfy their curiosity, but so they could share it with their families. The wanted to enjoy using the 'secret'. So there's motivation in the magic.

Of course, simply telling how a number trick works is fine for some children, but for most it is the problem solving opportunities that are important. Read more »

maths-addition-subtraction-magic squaresThis is an adaptation of our Multiplying Magic Squares maths activity. Indeed, the workings are identical - only the functions have changed. 

Here we have eight A5 activity sheets - each utilising 3x3 magic squares. Read more »

magic squares-multiplicationHere's another resource exclusively for our mathstick+ members. If you have access to the Prime files you will find this item listed under the KS2 tab in your Dashboard. Alternatively, use the mathstick+ button below this post.

This is a useful series of activities utilising a 3x3 magic square. Read more »

Sudoku Jigsaw PuzzlesWe have taken our 4 by 4 Sudoku Jigsaw Puzzles and expanded them (in several directions) for our mathsticks+ members. Here we have 4 new 6 by 6 Sudoku puzzles transformed into jigsaws. Read more »

teaching maths - sudoku puzzlesBy rights these should be called Sudoku Puzzle Jigsaws... it's a development of our Magic Square Jigsaws. Sudoku puzzles have always offered fantastic problem solving opportunities - see here for our stock of Sudoku related mathstick resources. Read more »

teaching activity - multiplicationHere's another very engaging maths teaching activity from one of our members.

Jason offers a fun way to practice written methods of multiplication and division while sharpening those problem solving skills.

The download contains two pages of incomplete equations.

Split each A4 page into two. Read more »

Magic Square PuzzlesMagic Squares are great ways to get children thinking mathematically, solving problems and using their calculation skills... however, getting the right amount of challenge can be tricky.

These Magic Square Puzzles offer all the benefits but have some useful differentiation built into them too. Read more »

Diamond numeracy puzzleWe are looking for your help with this maths activity.

Here is a problem solving puzzle in the form of a Diamond-shaped grid of squares, each square houses a number and the four sides of the Diamond should sum to the same 'magic' total.

The challenge is for the children to use their calculation and problem solving skills to complete the Diamonds by filling in the missing numbers.

  Read more »

maths activity - using and applying - problem solvingIt is quite a while since we first posted details of our first 'Number Properties' activity (Using and Applying: Number Properties). That particular resource has always proven very popular and we have often been asked if we intended to produce more. Read more »

problem solving with capacityHere's a unique Problem Solving activity set in a meaningful context.

This is another from our mathsticks+ member, Jason. He explains that it was designed to offer challenge to his Y4 class. The activity enabled them to solve a range of problems and discuss the strategies they used.


Basically the children have a series of cards with capacities indicated on them. Here's a sample: Read more »

Place Value ActivityThis superb resource was contributed by one of our mathsticks members, Jason.

The maths activity offers a 'real life' context for place value. The children are presented with a series of clues which lead to specific numbers. These numbers represent meter readings and part of the challenge is for the children to accurately enter the numbers onto an analogue and a digital recording sheet. Read more »

Christmas party planning - maths calculation skillsIt's Party Time!

Here's a party planning booklet that was originally devised by a student teacher. The children suddenly find they are the host of a Christmas party. They have to plan a Christmas event by selecting food, table crackers, entertainment and a party location from a range of options. The party has to suit a particular number of people and fit within a specific budget. Read more »

Rocket Space themed maths gameJust when you thought it was safe to put the dice back in the tin we are back with yet another Dice Game. In fact, this one just missed out on being included in our Dice Games eBook - but the children who tested it out for us really enjoyed it so we decided to post it in any case. Read more »

mental and oral maths

Here's a versatile idea that helps children use and apply their knowledge of fractions or percentages in a surprisingly fun way. You begin by showing the children something that appears to be a word puzzle, but actually contains some covert mathematics. Read more »

Problem Sloving MiniBooks - maths teachingHere we have taken the Addition puzzles from Mental Monday's #19 and turned them into a series of mini booklets. This makes them ideal for children to work through at their own pace (perfect for the end of term), they could also be used as 'registration activities', or as a homework project. Read more »

mental and oral maths

This week we offer a PowerPoint presentation that takes you through nine separate mental challenges. Each slide is based on a puzzle that involves connecting a series of numbers so that the total is always the same.

The puzzles are based on a pattern of lines and circles. Like this:

mental and oral maths challenge Read more »

mental and oral maths

This is a straightforward mental and oral maths idea to encourage the children to use and apply their calculation skills. We've given it a small Mathsticks twist by utilising a unique visual resource, but more about that later.

Here's what happens.

A two digit random number is generated either by rolling two dice or selecting digit cards. This is the target number, and it is displayed on the board. Read more »

mental and oral maths

I always loved the idea of using the Magic Square concept with children since it offers so many opportunities to get to grips with problem solving. However, it always seemed to me that Magic Squares on their own lacked a sense of purpose; if they were set into a historical context, then that seemed fine - but purely as maths puzzles, they only ever seemed to interest a small number of children. Read more »

mental and oral maths

Here’s another versatile calculation-based Mental and Oral starter.

We are looking at number problems with multiple operations. For example, you display the following number sentence, or equation (since it is a mixed calculation there is no logical way we can call it a "sum").

Mental Calculation Read more »

sample of Olympic Maths activitiesHere are 4 Olympic Games-themed mathematics activities.

The resource consists of four problem solving activities. The problems are presented as A4 'cards' and can be used as-is with specific children, or easily adapted to suit other groups or even the whole class. The material is designed to appeal to Key Stage 2 children.

The four activities are: Read more »

mental and oral mathsThis is Mental and Oral starter gives children plenty of opportunities to work with a specific 'times table'.

However the focus is on using a range of strategies to solve mathematical problems. It's also quite fun!

You start off by showing the children times table. However, most of the numbers are replaced by letters.

Here's an example using the 9 Times Table: Read more »

mental and oral mathsThis is a great little Mental and Oral starter in which the children have to identify the different digits within a number.

The focus is on using number properties and problem solving strategies. However, this starter also reinforces place value. Read more »

mental and oral mathsHere's a little gem that turns those very versatile empty number lines on their heads - figuratively speaking!

The main virtue of an empty number line is that 'emptyness' - they can be adapted to any purpose. Here, we keep them empty and challenge children to use their 'problem solving skills' and to use and apply their knowledge of number calculations to determine which numbers are missing. Read more »

two-step written maths problemsThis is a perfect introductory activity, particularly effective when children can work together on mini whiteboards.

As before, print out the file and cut each page into separate strips - each containing one written problem. Give each child a problem slip, and ask the pair to take it in turns to read the maths problem and discuss how it could be attacked. Read more »

multi step problems for school mathsA number of members have asked for another series of the two-stage problems that featured in our original Problem Talk resource.

Here is the result: a set of 20 multi-step written problems, these are specifically designed to offer appropriate challenge for Y2 and Y3 children.


  Read more »

school mathematics and magicThis is a quick way to demonstrate some ‘mathemagical’ powers – it also serves a useful purpose in that it will give children an entertaining opportunity to make use of investigative/problem solving skills.

You show the children a set of ‘raffle tickets’ each of which features a small identification number and a main four-digit ‘raffle’ number. Ask a child to pick a ticket at random, to show it to the rest of the class and to tell you only the small identification number. Read more »

Childrens 4x4 sudoku puzzlesWe've been working with Sudoku puzzles for a few years now. It is easy to see how useful they are in helping children develop or refine their logical, problem solving skills. The one difficulty is, however, that some Sudoku puzzles look really ugly and overly complicated.

Our designs use a different approach. We think this finally brings Sudoku firmly into the classroom, with a meaningful, colourful and clear approach. Read more »

mathematical magic tricks for teachersIn this simple mathematical trick you are able to tell the children the value of two secretly rolled dice. This works well with a group of children, but could also work well with the whole class.

Here's how it goes: Read more »

school mathematics and magicI used to find that mathematical magic tricks inspired my children... they wanted to know "How is it done?"; they wanted to show their family and they wanted to share in the glory of knowing a 'secret'. So there's motivation in the magic.

Of course, simply telling how a simple number trick works would be okay for some children, but for most it's the problem solving opportunities that are important. Read more »

maths word problems - step by stepThe table-top mat for our problem solving strategies has proven very useful, so much so that we have developed a slightly different version for word problems. The RUCSAC (Read, Understand, Choose, Solve, Answer, Check) acronym is well used in many schools, but some elements of it are still awkward for children. In particular, the 'understand' step is often more complex than the single word can convey. Read more »

Easter Sudoku PuzzlesThis is a set of three 6 by 6 Sudoku grids featuring Easter Eggs instead of numbers.

The grids follow on from our 4 by 4 Sudoku puzzles but offer a little more challenge. Each puzzles is accompanied by a set of 'Egg tiles' so children can re-arrange the tiles while they solve the puzzle.

  Read more »

Easter egg sudoku puzzlesThe Sudoku activities in our Christmas Resource book were so well received we decided to offer these Easter Egg themed sudoku puzzles.

These are beginner stage, 4 by 4 grids. They follow the usual Sudoku rules but use Egg pictures instead of numbers. Each puzzle card is accompanied by the appropriate number of coloured egg-tiles so children can complete the problem by re-arranging the tiles. This makes a great interactive display. Read more »

egg tangram puzzlesThis is an egg tangram puzzle, often called the Magic Egg. The nine pieces can be reassembled to create numerous shapes - most popular ones are birds! The resource can be printed out and children challenged to create the images. The process of piecing together the individual shapes supports the children's logical thinking, reasoning, and visual problem-solving skills. Read more »

Maths Word ProblemsHere's a maths activity focused on helping children to work out what to do when faced with a two-stage problem.

Working with thinking partners, each child has a problem slip and they take it in turns to read it out and discuss how it could be attacked; discussing what maths functions they need to apply in order to solve the problem. Importantly, they must also decide on the order of those functions and be prepared to explain everything to the rest of the class. Read more »

problem solving labels and postersWe've been using these mathematical problem solving strategies for a while now, but it's only just recently that we decided to try them as a set of display posters.

We tried a number of varieties, and they all seemed to work well. Here's the first, focussing on the four phases of problem solving: Read more »

Problem Solving - number properties activityIn this activity the children are given 6 statements and asked to use them to work out what unique number they all relate to.

All 6 statements will direct them to one specific number. As you might expect, this is strong on 'Using and Applying' number knowledge, as well as involving children in exploring number properties and developing their vocabulary. Read more »

Christmas maths actvityHere is the first of several new Christmas themed mathsticks resources.

Christmas Costs is a worksheet resource  which offers children a problem solving starter. The focus is on calculating the 'imaginary' cost of a number of Christmas items. Read more »

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