Archive | Puzzles RSS feed for this section

Pi Day Resources

9 Mar

It is nearly Pi Day, March 14th (3.14), so to celebrate try some of our resources from the seasonal Pi Day bundle. This bundle consists of three resources described below.


Pi Day Relay Race

pi relay raceA set of 16 relay race questions suitable for able KS4 pupils. The questions are progressively difficult, starting with the basics (see picture) to solving problems involving area, circumference or volume.

Print one set of questions for each group on different colours. Each group has a team captain, they retrieve the question from the front , taking it to the team to answer. Once they are confident they’ve got it correct they return it for marking. If correct they get 10 points and the next question. If they are wrong they can have a second attempt for 9 points.

Pi Day Collect a Joke

The pupils must calculate progressively difficult fractions of amounts (suitable for KS3 pupils), each answer gives a letter spelling out the punchline to the Pi Day joke. This resources includes ‘red herrings’ for quick self and teacher assessment. This resource is free to download as part of try before you buy!

Pi Day Mystery

Pupils are challenged to use the clues to plot all five circles and find the point of intersection. They will need to use and inverse the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, as well as some Pythagoras’ Theorem.

Each resource includes instructions, ideas for support/extension and solutions.

All three are available in our Pi Day bundle, check it out here.

Check out this blog “Plan a Pi Day Party” by Gary Hopkins for Educational world for more great ideas and resources to celebrate Pi Day.

Get in touch @numberloving and follow our Facebook NumberLoving Page

Check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Buzzing about my new buzzers!

23 Nov

I love my new buzzers and so do the pupils! They add a bit of fun to a wide variety of classroom activities. These farmyard buzzers are called learning resource buzzers and are available here (as well as other places). They are sold in sets of 4, so I have invested in the farmyard set to the left and the answer buzzers below so that I have 8 available.

Simply add to a game a of bingo to add an element of fun, pupils who get a line or a full house press the buzzer instead of shouting bingo. The desks are in groups in my classroom so I place one buzzer on each desk so that it is in arms reach of 5-6 pupils. Check out our blog “Bingo is Jackpot Joy” for other ideas and resources for mathematical bingo.

Again simply put the buzzers in arm reach of groups of pupils when playing countdown. I found this really helps especially when pupils need longer than the standard 30 seconds. Pupils can buzz when they get the answer or depending on ability when they are within 5 of the target number. I use SubTangent countdown here when playing with a class.

81zxyVnDnwL._SL1500_Numbered heads together is a Kagan approach, see previous post here on the cooperative learning techniques including Numbered Heads together. In my buzzer adaptation of the game pupils are put into groups, each group is given a buzzer. All pupils complete a question in silence on mini whiteboards. When they have completed the question they stand up, when the whole team has stood up they can then discuss. If they all agree they press the buzzer, if not they must sit back down again until they can convince each other of the correct answer. I would also use a scoring system similar to the one used for relay races (another fun classroom activity described here in our blog “anything but more past papers” which looks at different ways of revising with exam classes).

So many different ways to use the buzzers, they were more than a worthwhile investment!

NumberLoving is entering its next stage of development and we look forward to bringing you even more in the New Year, make sure you check back soon! Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Mathematical Taboo!

17 Sep

We have been a bit quiet on the blog since the Summer but we’re now back with lots in store for the new academic year!

To kick things off how about a game of taboo? Taboo is a really simple, fun and occasionally frustrating game where you have to describe a word to your partner without using the three ‘taboo’ words. These are an amazing way of consolidating key words and concepts as well as promoting communication and team work!


This works well if students work in fours and  split into two teams of two. Team one have say, two minutes to get through as many words as they can with one member describing and one person guessing. Whilst this is happening team two are timing them and keeping a close eye on the ‘taboo’ words to make sure they are not used. Once the time is up the teams swap over.

In the style of many of our resources these cards are differentiated. Each set comes with 8 green and 8 red cards. The words are taken from the key vocabulary in the national strategy, the red cards are words from year 7 and 8, the green cards are words from year 9. Students could split the cards into two piles and pick which one to play with or you could direct them, I often suggest they get 2 points for a green word and 1 point for a red word. So far we have 6 sets on Number Loving covering key topics.

Variations on the game

Once a word has been guessed additional points can be gained by guessing what the ‘taboo’ words are on the card

Students get blank versions and make their own with the key words from a specific topic or unit!

Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.


Summer Projects

29 Jul

Summer is here and now we can get stuck into those projects requiring a little more time. Here we have listed a wide range of projects that will keep you busy over the summer holidays.

Get Making

Maths Dance Mats

Make a class set for use on any topic with numerical answers. Check out our post “Dance Maths” for details on making the mats and resources to use with the mats are also available.

Instant Pie Charts

These have so many uses from the teaching of pie charts itself to its use in group tasks to rate participation rates of individuals, to measuring a pupils understanding. Easily made using four different colours of paper, and slotted together. Check out our post “Instant Graphs” for further details on making and using the pie chart wheels, as well as free resources to make and use with the wheels.

How do you Measure Up? Display

Make or update your height measuring display in your classroom, and why not post around the school in communal areas and even the staff room. Update with winners from the Olympics, or today’s favourite celebrities.

Check out our post “Pimp your classroom” for our free tape measure and other ideas to jazz up your classroom for September.

Top Trumps

Print and laminate a few sets of top trumps, a wide range is available on our TES resource site here. Each set is differentiated red (easy), amber and green. We have found they last longer if cut out and then laminated. Well worth it!

Check out our post “Maths Top Trumps & Other Games”, with details of how pupils can play the game and links to all top trump resources.


Tarsia Software

Tarsia jigsaw and dominoes software is great and as many colleagues have shared their jigsaws on the TES resource site or here on Mr Barton’s site, if you haven’t yet made use of it now is the time!

Check out our post “Tarsia puzzles- things you didn’t know” for more ideas on how to use the software to its full potential.


Free web-based graphing software and much much more. Download to your desktop now here, offline installation also available.

Prezi Desktop

The zooming presentation software. Check out our post “Get onto Present & Collaborate”, with links to some of our own presentations. Ideal software for wowing everyone at the September inset day!

Sign up for


Wallwisher can be used as your very own internet based notice board, use effectively with class investigations. As pupils complete investigations they post their findings onto the wall. Sign up for this free posting wall here. Check out our post “Computer room lessons sorted- no mymaths required” for more online tools we recommend.

NRich Postcards

Nrich offer a service to provide postcards for free, each postcard includes a puzzle to solve, just sign up here stating how many of each you would like to receive. These are great for leaving in communal areas around the school, or use as praise postcards home.

BP trading game

Access and download the free BP educational resource, game is available at two levels of difficulty. Pupils trade in oil, making decisions based on news updates. Check out our post “BP Trading Game- Enterprise/STEM/Maths”, here you will find our adapted resources to use with the game.



Hammer beads

These can be bought from most toy stores, we found Ikea’s to be a bargain at £5 see here. Check out our post “Hammer Beads & Symmetry”, where we use these beads to create symmetrical patterns. Use as an end of topic activity or great for open evenings.

Finger Puppets

Another investment from Ikea, a pack of 10 for £4, check out here. Check out our post “Puppets go the distance with speed & time” , here we describe using the puppets to create stories to match a given distance/time graph.

Rulers (& pencils)

Whilst at Ikea take advantage of their free rulers and grab yourself a set. Check out our post “Teaching Loci”, here we describe guiding pupils under given rules of loci and a paper ruler to create locus of points.

Window crayons

We  love using our windows for displays, puzzles, assessment for learning and found window crayons to be the best tools for the job. Check out our post “Who wants clean windows” for further details, get creative!


Avoid sweet treats and instead reward pupils with mathematical based puzzle such as these Rubik cube key rings. Check out our post “On our best Behaviour” for other ideas for rewards.

Geek glasses

Essential for when you promote pupils to be experts, either they finish and become markers  or are already designated as examiners with a given mark scheme (or self created markscheme). I use cinema 3D glasses with the lenses popped out, also great for control pupil movement in class when running  a treasure hunt with a lively group. Pupils can only be out of their seat if they have the glasses on, limiting movement as each group only have one pair of glasses.

Clock for classroom

Every classroom needs one, a mathematical clock like this equation clock. There are also a number of variations available. Check out our post “Equation clocks and more”.

Post It Notes

Well worth the investment, reasonably priced from most stationary stores. Check out our post “Post-it Addict” jam packed of different uses for post-it notes in lessons!

For more ideas check out our posts on Outdoor Learning and see if these fit into your department calendar.
Have a great summer! Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our TES NumberLoving Store.

Your best ever investment – A puzzle box

2 Feb

The best gift I have ever received (from numberloving co-author Sharon Derbyshire as it happens) is my puzzle box. And yes, this is exactly what you think, a box full of puzzles.

This little box is a life saver at the end of term if like me you refuse to put on Miss Congeniality, or for all those times when for whatever reason you end up having a twenty-minute lesson, or only ten students in the class, or your IWB goes into melt down and you’ve got no board pen… I could go on.

Students love playing with these puzzles and it is time spent well for lots of reasons, so here’s the numberloving wish list for your very own puzzle box

1) Tantrix

This is my favourite puzzle game, you have to fit together hexagonal shaped pieces so that they form loops of different colours. The pieces are very tactile and there are lots of options for play depending on the difficulty you want, these are well worth the investment.

2) Impuzzable cubes or the Bedlam cube

These are loved by students and they will be surprisingly patient in their approach, they basically have to fit some 3d shapes together to make a cube shape. This is great for their spatial awareness and understanding of volume.

3) Rubix Cube

This is obviously a favourite of the students but they will spend forever twisting it around and not getting anywhere so to make it worthwhile teach yourself how to solve them (there are lots of websites with simple methods – I use the layer method) and then you can teach the students the strategy.

4) Sudoku

Print and laminate and allow students to solve using whiteboard markers. If you are really organised then print them onto different colours depending on the ability. Check out our archives for a blog all about Sudoku and beyond!

5) Frog Puzzle

We have all heard of the puzzle where the three frogs on the left have to swap places with the three on the right, print and laminate instructions and some frog pictures (or I bought some little frog toys off ebay). You can even get them to find the pattern as the number of frogs increase and work out the nth term!

6) General Number Puzzles

This is a brilliant set of general number puzzles, I can’t remember where I picked it up. Print and laminate and away you go. You can even use these as starters or weekly form time puzzles.

7) Pentominoes

Print and laminate these pentominoes and get students to try and fit them together in a rectangle, there are lots of potential solutions but it may be worthwhile printing sections of some solutions to help them get started.

8) Wooden puzzles

These and lots of others can be found on where they are classified by difficulty which is very helpful!

Ebay is also a great place to find some of these puzzles for those of us on a budget. Any other ideas for additions to my own puzzle box would be much appreciated, get puzzling! Get in touch @numberloving and check out our TES NumberLoving Store for free and premium resources.

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.

%d bloggers like this: