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Deputy First Minister's Spring Maths Challenge 2020

Want to keep the kids busy? The Deputy First Minister’s Spring Challenge is packed with fun puzzles.

Want to know the answers? They'll be available on the Making Maths Count blog from 10 April 2020.

Welcome to the Spring Maths Challenge

Comic strip showing the teacher talking to her class

Comic strip showing the teacher talking to her class

It was a chilly Monday in March when the children made their way to class but there were signs of Spring as the days were getting a bit brighter and longer.

In the classroom, the teacher asked the children to describe what they liked best about Spring.

  • The Easter holidays!
  • Flowers growing!
  • Chocolate eggs!

The teacher asked them to think about fun ways to make games and puzzles based on Spring and maths and challenges – and maybe a trick for the Easter Holidays to impress friends or family!

The children then worked together and created some activities to share with their class… and with you. They would really like it if you would give them a try. If you would like… why not try to come up with a game or activity of your own?

Puzzle #1: Mathematical mind reader

Cartoon image of boy dressed up as a magician

Cartoon image of boy dressed up as a magician

How to play

Think of a number between 1 and 20, write it on a piece of paper and fold it up – don’t tell anyone what it is.

Now do this (and remember to keep it a secret!)

  • Add 1 to your number.
  • Double that number.
  • Add 4 to your new number.
  • Now halve your new number.
  • Take away the number you first thought of from your new number.
  • Write down your final answer.

Your answer is 3!

Try it again with different starting numbers between 1 and 20. Is the answer always 3?
Amaze your friends and family by  reading their mind and telling them you can make the final number a 3!

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Puzzle #2: Sum flowers

Cartoon of girl with sunflowers with numbers on them

Cartoon of girl with sunflowers with numbers on them

Hello, I’m Suzie. 2 of my favourite things are sunflowers and adding.

I have picked the number 70 because there are over 70 different kinds of sunflower and have made up a game.

Please give it a try, either by yourself or with other people!

How to play

  • Each sunflower below has a number.
  • You have 3 minutes. 
  • How many sets of sunflower numbers can you find that total 70? 
  • Each sunflower number can only be used once in each sum.
  • For example, if you add sunflowers 24, 26 and 20 you get 70.
  • The more you play the game, the quicker you will get.
     

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Puzzle #3: Chick or Egg-sit

Cartoon illustrating the chick and egg game

Cartoon illustrating the chick and egg game

A game for 2 players.

You will need: 3 cups, a toy chick, an egg, a bit of paper and a pen to keep a note of the scores.

How to play

  • The game is played by putting the chick in one cup and the egg in another. 
  • You can play along using the cut out chick and egg or two different coloured balls instead.
  • Player 1 moves the cups around for a count of 15 seconds.
  • Player 2 then guesses the cup with the chick.
  • If they get it right they get 1 point.
  • If they get an empty cup 0 points.
  • If they get the egg—they are out and exit (egg-sit!).
  • Player 1 and 2 only swap when the egg has been picked.
  • Once each player has had to ‘egg-sit’ 3 times, total the scores to see who has won.
     

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Puzzle #4: Allotment vegetable grab

Cartoon showing the allotment vegetable grab game

Ellie and Charlie are keen gardeners and like growing vegetables and flowers.

Each of them has an allotment which they have set out in a grid of squares for this puzzle.

Ellie and Charlie enjoy puzzles and challenges and have created a game for you based on the vegetables on their allotment.

How to play

  • Draw up your grid as above with 9 x 9 squares and cut out some Xs and carrots. 
  • Two players hide four carrots on their grids without showing each other. 
  • They take it in turns to guess a square where there might be a carrot growing. 
  • If they are wrong, the other player says ‘you missed’. 
  • If they guess right, the other player says ‘that’s a hit’ and places an ‘x’ on top of the square.
  • The winner is the first person to find all of the other person’s carrots.

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Tips to keep the kids interested in maths

Tip #1: Play board games

Games can involve a lot of maths: this could be counting squares, looking for sequences, moving in different directions, exploring probability by rolling dice or being dealt a card, and following logic and rules.

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Tip #2: Play puzzles and puzzle-like games

Try playing puzzle games like Noughts and Crosses, Guess Who?, Sudoku, Dominoes, Battleships and Draughts.

These all involve strategic thinking, problem solving, and planning, as well as maths skills.

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Tip #3: Involve the kids in activities that involve maths

Cooking often asks for lots of quantities and measuring as well as shapes, times and temperatures. Shopping involves prices, counting money and checking dates (the expiry date). Get the children to help you! You can find more cooking tips here.

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Tip #4: Estimate all sorts of things together

There are lots of things you can ask the kids to guess at. “I wonder how many steps there are here?” "How long will it take to walk to the shop?" "How many peas are on your plate?"

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Tip #5: Plan a journey tomorrow

Look at maps and timetables, and talk about distances. How far away is it? How long will it take to get there?

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Tip #6: Talk about maths in a positive way

If you talk about maths in a positive way, your child will too!

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Last updated: 24 Nov, 2020