Archive | December, 2011

Tarsia Puzzles- Things you didn’t know!

28 Dec

It is most likely that you have heard of Tarsia, the free jigsaw/domino/follow me creating software from hermitech laboratory (download the program here). If you haven’t yet, you really must and fortunately for all of us many teachers have contributed their tarsia puzzles to Mr Barton’s great website where a whole bundle organised by strand can be downloaded. As well as the collections on the TES collated by Mr Barton again, link here.

Things didn’t know; pictures, uses in other subjects, add anagrams etc

Making Use of the Edges

When inputting your questions and answers using the tabs 1-18 you will notice underneath the d1, d2 etc (see below).  Anything you input here will appear on the edge of the completed tarsia puzzle!

So what could you put here? Questions of which puzzles answer on the paper they’ve stuck the completed puzzle onto. Letters, one on each edge which make a word, or ask pupils to name a mathematical word beginning with each letter. You could put answers there and ask pupils to come up with questions with that answer.

Mr Barton’s site gives further ideas on the uses of these edges and other features.

Simplify!No this is not the popular TV programme the cube, but the idea is the same. In the Output and solution tab you have the options of the size of the triangles (large to normal) or the number of triangles (simplify). For example choosing simplify  in the hexagonal puzzle will reduce the puzzle to the inner 6 triangles that make the smaller hexagonal puzzle.


I just didn’t know you could insert photos till recently! On the input bar just go to edit> insert image, then locate the image on your computer and it will insert it into the puzzle/jigsaw. This is great for graphs, such as straight line graphs, reading values from a conversion graph, identifying the median from a box plot. The only glitch is that on the transfer of the tarsia to another computer, you will need to reinsert the photos. I have gotten round this by zooming out on the input screen, taking a snap shot of that (using print screen), pasting this into word. Once in word, crop and resize to fill the page. Do this with each output page and of course the solution, save as word and convert to adobe. This can then be shared easily with colleagues. Although using this method some of the resolution maybe lost!

If you have used this software in another way please share! Check out numberloving’s co-author Laura Rees Hughes’ Tarsia collection on both the TES and Mr Barton’s website. Good work Laura!

Sudoku Master? Go Beyond with these puzzles.

20 Dec

You may have read my previous post about Sudoku’s and the many variations that I have found over the years to keep the challenge and mind thinking! So beyond the classic and more challenging Sudoku’s I moved on again.

So I searched out other logic, number games and came across this book by Chambers “Beyond Sudoku; Japenese number puzzles”. I would recommend it, I have actually two copies one for personal use the other I have cut up and laminated for in use in the classroom.

Hashi- Also known as bridges

One of my favourites and very easy to get the hang of but challenging enough! The circles represent islands to be connected by bridges. The number indicates the number of bridges connected to that island, the maximum number of bridges between two island is two (beware this doesn’t isolate the islands). is a great place for all the following puzzles, create a free puzzle and you can save it for later. Another site with over 2 million puzzles has enough to keep those brains ticking over the Christmas break.

Kakuro- Also known as cross sums

It looks like a cross word but the numbers don’t lead to a written clue the numbers are the clue, as well as the number of cells. The number represents the total of the digits for example if a total is 3 and there are only two cells, you know the two digits are 1 and 2. This is a good starting point! Though I must admit I have not truly mastered the kakuro and so found these tips useful.

For a free daily puzzle click here.

Hanjie- Also known as Griddler, Nonagram or Paint by numbers

A blank grid, at the end of each row and column the number identifies the number of cells that need to be shaded as part of the picture. Remember that a comma between each number indicates at least one square gap. Good website to play easy to hard hanjie games online but you can not save your game. Once you’ve got the hang of the controls this is a great piece of free software. However if you sign up for free with you can save your games for later!

Slither Link Also known as fences

This game takes me back to playing boxes with my grandparents as a young child. Although this game you do connect the dots you do not make boxes, but instead one big island. The number refers to the number of lines, the maximum being 3 sides (anymore would create an isolated island). Best hint I got was to find the 0’s next to a 3, as the side between the two can not be an edge therefore the other 3sides of the number 3 must be!

The Krazydad website has lots of slitherlink puzzles of varying degrees of diffulty as well as variations on the classic game. My favourite the Rhomboid slitherlinks and there are 100 downloadable books enough to keep even I busy! Also it would be rude to not pay special attention to the snowflake slitherlink at this time of year.


Each cell in the end will contain a number, the number identifies how many cells of the same number are joined. For example 2, means there are two squares with the digit 2 in, therefore no adjoining cells can be part of a 2 formation. Fillomino strategies are available here, I found these useful. For your daily online fillomino online game click here. An archive of printable fillomino’s are available here.


The aim of the game is to determine if a cell is white and therefore part of an island, or black and part of the connecting canals. The numbers refer to the number of cells in an island, no islands can be connected horizontally or vertically, where as canals must all be connected. Try online here.


Create a mosaic using the information, similar to minesweeper. The number refers to how many cells should be shaded in that and the surrounding cells, i.e. the maximum is 9. Identifying the 9’s and the 0’s is a good starting point. A free download is available here. For some strategies and tips click here.


Starting with a complete grid of digits, you eliminate numbers so that no digit recurrs in the same column or row, no shaded squares can touch creating one big island. Again allows you to play online and save your games for later.

I am sure here at numberloving we will find plenty more to add to this list so check up on us regularly. If you have any that you recommend get in touch by leaving a comment below, we would love to hear and set ourselves a new challenge.

Keep those brains ticking over the Christmas break. Merry Christmas!

Pushing the Sudoku Boundaries!

16 Dec

Try these numberloving favourites!

I was first introduced to Sudoku as a NQT ten years ago and found this puzzle right up my street. I am sure many of you know how to complete a Sudoku puzzle, this article concentrates on puzzles beyond the basic Sudoku. For beginners click here for hints and tips on the classic puzzle.

So what happens when you breeze through [most] sudoku challenges found in newspapers and magazines alike? Or you maybe simply looking for a new logic challenge! Well I recommend the samurai Sudoku. As you can see this joins five classic sudoku to get your brains really working.

Click here for a daily samurai Sudoku, or tap into its archives and puzzles can be printed (myself I prefer to print as a break from the computer). Or there are many books like The Times Samurai Su Doku available through online bookstores.

Way beyond the classic Sudoku is Kuboku a 3D Sudoku cube game created by Creaceed this app, available for £1.49 (at time of publishing). The video below gives a demonstration of Kuboku, don’t forget you get extra Kuboku points if you can complete it faster. You will be interested to know there is no sound in the game, unlike the video!

For a 3D Sudoku in 2D try this flip pad, also known as Tredoku. Tredoku keeps to the same rules as classic Sudoku with the added dimensions or corners which need to be considered whilst completing. Some printable Tredoku available here.

Also don’t forget killer Sudoku, in this game not only do the digits 1-9 have to be placed in the same way as classic Sudoku but you are only given guidance on the total of groups of numbers. Therefore knowing combinations of digits for a given total is helpful. This is an example of one online playing site, there are many available. I use that particular site as its archives are easy to navigate.

New to myself, and frustratingly yet to fully master is the greater than and less than Sudoku, as shown on the right. Again the ultimate goal of placing digits 1 to 9 are the same, however the only hints you are given are the inequalities < or >. I found A day in the Life‘s blog helpful and need to dedicate time to completing one of these over the Christmas break. Play online here, or some print and play here.

The Bermuda Triangle Sudoku game, is a nice twist, with triangle placement of the digits 1-9 as well as colour coordination. Luckily the sound can be muted once the game has begun by clicking on the word sound in the top left corner.

Many of these variations named above are available online, or as a downloadable app for those with a smartphone and on the move. Here is a list of recommended websites for Sudoku. If you have an favourites to add to the list please your comment, authors of Numberloving are always looking for a new puzzle challenge!

Merry Christmas!

Numberloving does not endorse any product or site, we merely blogging about our favourites. There are of course other sites/books/sellers to get these services.

Your Christmas Reading List!

15 Dec

I can’t think of anything better than cuddling up in the holidays with a good book (about Maths of course). Here are Number Loving’s top holiday reads:

1. If the world were a village by David J. Smith is a fascinating account of what the world’s population would be like if it were scaled down to a village of 100 people. You are told so many facts about their ethnic origin, education, standard of living and more, making this a brilliant book to bring out when doing statistics or proportion. It also brings in global issues, for example 17 people in the village can not read and write, what is this as a fraction? or a percentage? if there are 7 billion people in the world how many can not read and write? You can generate endless questions with a sense of importance about them.

2. Addition by Toni Jordan is a fictional comedy about a fellow Maths obsessive, it is really funny and has some nice Maths references

3. Origami Fun Kit for Beginners by Dover is a great introduction to origami, students absolutely adore to do this and it brings in so much Maths in terms of shapes, fractions, angles, estimating, … the list goes on. It is well worth learning a few simple ones to bring out as a fun starter.

4. Conned Again Watson: Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math and Probability by Colin Bruce is a brilliant account of twelve Sherlock Holmes mysteries which all bring in elements of statistics and game theory, I have taken much inspiration from the stories in this book.

5. Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities by Ian Stewart is a fabulous collection of interesting Mathematical happenings, you can dip in and out of the book and I must have got at least 20 starters and plenaries from ideas in here, there are a few in the series and all are worth a good read. There are quite a lot of books like this on the market but this is definitely one of the best.

6. Secrets and Mince Pies by Craig Barton is a very funny fictional book, written by the ever popular Mr Barton it charts the run up to Christmas of a typical family making it seasonal too, recommended to all but especially number lovers. And what is even better is that it’s available on the Kindle for less than £2!

7. Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos is a brilliant book charting the travels of Alex Bellos as he jaunts around the globe, there are some real gems in here which will inspire lots of engaging starters for your lessons

8. A brief Guide to the Great Equations by Robert Crease is a stunning book, it describes the ten most beautiful equations and the story behind their conception. Of course it includes Euler’s equation but the other nine are equally brilliant. This is an absolute must read for any A-level Maths teachers to help put some history and beauty into your lessons. Or for any Maths lovers for some self-indulgence!

Happy reading and Merry Christmas from Number Loving!

Christmaths Collection Part 2

11 Dec

Not forgetting the fabulous 12 games of christmas on the TES, these 12 games are designed for primary but you can select the level of difficulty so they are suitable as a starter for your KS3 classes, I will be kicking off my lessons with one of these each day leading upto Christmas. Great fun!

Christmaths Collection

11 Dec

Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree how lovely are your branches?

Simple put, we just don’t do movies in maths lessons, not even if it is the last day of term before Christmas. We continue to teach, of course with a Christmas theme, we are not complete Scrooges! Here is a collection of Christmaths activities I have used and found successful!

This year we are using the Christmas themed functional skills projects for year 7, 8 and 9 developed by Lynn Groove High School teachers. Available from . We have adapted the resources slightly to reduce photocopying by including some f the tasks within the PowerPoint for display on the interactive whiteboard.
Year 7  The Cost of Christmas Applying skills of time and money to make predictions.
Year 8 Christmas Presents To work out a budget, surface area and distances.
Year 9 Christmas Elves Using probability to make predictions.

Christmas Tessellations

 These create excellent instant display work, be sure to challenge the pupils to come up with their own.

This library of ready to print and cut tessellation templates is a useful starting point.

Challenge pupils to cut only equilateral triangles into their own online snowflake.

New update: This site generates random Christmas jigsaw of tessellating pieces

Christmas Coordinate Cards

A christmas_card_coordinates and christmas_card_ideas both taken from primaryresources


Fold your own origami snowflake using a paper hexagon of side 10cm, watch the video below. Be warned this is not for the feint hearted.

Wow thank you @tj007 for the pointer on making your own 3D snowflake .

Another great activity is challenging the students to make a real snowflake (one with 6 lines of symmetry) be ready for a messy classroom but lots of learning!

Snowball Dodechedrons

Ask pupils to construct some 3D dodechedrons to make piles of snow around the school Christmas tree. Template available here.

Christmas Worksheets It could be said to not be the most exciting however great for form time, Christ-Maths, John Taylor’s downloadable worksheets

Santa’s Christmas Journey Bearings

This resource contributed by alutwyche on the TES resource site, great journey using bearings, check out his other resources too great imagination to engage pupils. has an astounding collection of winter maths activities. There is something here for everyone from primary school to secondary school. I particularly like the 12 days of Christmas, finding the total cost of the presents.

Colleen Young’s latest post Christmas is coming in her blog Mathematics, Learning and Web 2.0 has some great Christmas ideas. I love the nRich advent calendar, a puzzle a day!

Ho ho ho Merry Christmas, hope you find something that engages your pupils into the Christmas/Winter Spirit!

Happy Holidays all Number Loving readers!

SSAT North West Innovation Show

10 Dec

This academic year sees the SSAT’s (Special Schools and Academies) first regional sister event to The Achievement Show, The North West Innovation Show.

I first attended The Annual Achievement show in London in 2010, along with 3 colleagues. The day was fantastic as leading professionals shared their ideas, tactics and led delegates through exciting and thought provoking sessions. The event is split into several areas for example; numeracy, literacy, leadership, pupil voice. Each area has a number of sessions delivered by leading professionals throughout the day. Delegates can choice which area and sessions they attend on the day, allowing for flexibility depending upon their need.
Since this event in 2010 we not only return each year with more colleagues to the national event but we have also introduced our own successful All Saints achievement show. This is held within house and plays a huge role in the continuos professional development programme.
The SSAT now looks to increase the opportunities for teachers to attend such events in these increasingly difficult financial circumstances as many schools face budget cuts. So the Innovation show will be held in the North west, reducing travelling costs and attendance is £75 per delegate, with 10% off for multiple delegates from the same institute. Either way it is a great price compared to some courses that are available.
The following seven areas will be delivering 32 sessions during the North West Innovation show; Literacy, Numeracy, Baccalaureate, Leadership, New Technology, Inspiration, Enterprise. Fuirther details are available here Innovation Show Sessions website, registration is needed but very easy. Of course myself and Number Loving’s co-author Laura Rees-Hughes will be presenting in the numeracy area at the show, sharing our ideas and experiences that helped to acquire a special mention in the latest ofsted report for All Saints Catholic CfL.
The show will be held on Monday the 20th of February 2012 at All Saints Catholic Centre for Learning. All Saints Catholic CfL has now established itself as a leading school within the community and has been in the newly built Building Schools for the future building for two years in January. With the schools break out spaces and home base organisation, it is also a great opportunity to see innovative education spaces at the forefront of the profession.

I hope to see you there!

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