Billiard Ball Problem

The Billiard Ball Problem is a beautiful exploration of a situation both natural and novel. Great for problem solving, with connections to ratio and proportion. Also check out this Billiard Ball simulator on Scratch.

Penny, Nickel, Dime

This version of Don’t Break the Bank is a hit with students, and also helps give a concrete meaning to place value by linking it to both money, addition, estimation, and multiplying by fives and tens. It takes very little time, so it can be used as a warmup, station activity, or in those five minutes before class ends. While …

Math Magic Trick

This trick is an extraordinary introduction to the power of algebraic thinking, and a reminder of what makes algebra so awe-inspiring. A video Launch for this lesson is available in two parts. PDF of the lesson is below the videos. Part 1. When using as a class launch, stop at 2:45 and let the class come up try to find …

Story Problem – The Kite

  Looking for more? Check out this student generated extra challenge question on this story. Remember that you can always ask students to come up with their own challenge problems if they finish early!


Story Problem – The Monster

For this long-form story problem, read the story to your class first, then give them the questions to answer, and the story as a reference. Optional artistic tie-in: draw a picture of the monster. Optional challenge: write another question about the story.

Pyramid Puzzles

Pyramid puzzles are a fun and deceptively tricky puzzle. Sometimes these can’t be done without some risk taking—encourage guessing and checking, and learning from the inevitable mistakes, especially on the harder puzzles. More on Pyramid Puzzles here.

Dots and Boxes

This classic game is great for strategy, mathematical thinking, and basic counting and addition.


Magic Triangles

Topics: Addition, Subtraction, Logic Materials: Pencil and paper Recommended Grades: 1, 2, 3 Common Core: K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.4, 1.OA.A.2, 1.OA.B.3, 1.OA.B.4, 1.OA.C.5,1.OA.C.6, 1.OA.D.8, 2.OA.B.2, MP1. Magic Triangles are a simple addition/missing addend problem that creates opportunities for higher level thinking. Kids must place the numbers 1 through 6 on the outside of a triangle to make the numbers on each side sum to …

Magic Squares

Topics: Addition, Subtraction, Logic Materials: Pencil and paper, Recommended Grades: 2, 3, 4 Common Core: Put the numbers 1-9 into a square so that every column, row, and diagonal adds to 15. Why We Love Magic Squares This is a truly historical problem, with roots in cultures around the world. The arithmetic looks fairly simple at first, but the problem …

The Hundred Chart Game

Topics: addition, subtraction, strategy Materials: Two types of tokens (gems & pawns), hundreds chart Recommended Grades: 1, 2, 3 Common Core: 1.NBT.C.4, 1.NBT.C.5, 1.NBT.C.6, C2.NBT.B.5 Add and subtract 10s and 1s to pick up the tokens on the hundreds chart. Why We Love The Hundred Chart Game This game delivers tons of addition and subtraction practice in a way kids love. …