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25 Fun Maths Problems For KS2 And KS3 (From Easy To Very Hard!)

Fun maths problems are one of the things mathematicians love about the subject; they provide an opportunity to apply mathematical knowledge, logic and problem solving skills all at once. 

In this article, we’ve compiled 25 fun maths problems, each covering various topics and question types. They’re aimed at students in KS2 & KS3. We’ve categorised them as:

How should teachers use these maths problems?

Teachers could make use of these maths problem solving questions in a number of ways, such as:

  • embed into a relevant maths topic’s teaching.
  • settling tasks at the beginning of lessons.
  • break up or extend a maths worksheet.
  • keep students thinking mathematically after the main lesson has finished.

Some are based on real life or historical maths problems, and some include ‘bonus’ maths questions to help to extend the problem solving fun! As you read through these problems, think about how you could adjust them to be relevant to your students or to practise different skills. 

These maths problems can also be used as introductory puzzles for maths games such as those introduced at the following links:

Need more support teaching reasoning, problem solving and planning for depth? Read here for free CPD for you and your team of teachers.


Maths word problems

1. Home on time – easy

Type: Time, Number, Addition

A cinema screening starts at 14:35. The movie lasts for 2 hours, 32 minutes after 23 minutes of adverts. It took 20 minutes to get to the cinema. What time should you tell your family that you’ll be home?

Answer: 17:50

2. A nugget of truth – mixed

Type: Times Tables, Multiplication, Multiples, Factors, Problem Solving 

Chicken nuggets come in boxes of 6, 9 or 20, so you can’t order 7 chicken nuggets. How many other impossible quantities can you find (not including fractions or decimals)?

Answer: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, or 43

There is actually a theorem which can be used to prove that every integer quantity greater than 43 can be ordered.

3. A pet problem – mixed

Type: Number, Problem Solving, Forming and Solving Equations, Simultaneous Equations, Algebra

Eight of my pets aren’t dogs, five aren’t rabbits, and seven aren’t cats. How many pets do I have?

Answer: 10 pets (5 rabbits, 3 cats, 2 dogs)

4. The price of things – mixed

Type: lateral thinking problem

A mouse costs £10, a bee costs £15, and a spider costs £20. How much does a duck cost?
Answer: £5 (£2.50 per leg)

Looking for more word problems, solutions and explanations? Read our article on word problems for primary school.

25 Fun Maths Problems - Printable

25 Fun Maths Problems - Printable

Download a printable version of these fun maths problems together with answers and mark scheme.

Maths puzzles

5. A dicey maths challenge – easy

Type: Place value, number, addition, problem solving

Roll three dice to generate three place value digits. What’s the biggest number you can make out of these digits? What’s the smallest number you can make?

Add these two numbers together. What do you get?

Answer: In most cases, 1,089.

Bonus: Who got a different result? Why?

6. PIN problem solving – mixed

Type: Logic, problem solving, reasoning

I’ve forgotten my PIN. Six incorrect attempts locks my account: I’ve used five! Two digits are displayed after each unsuccessful attempt: “2, 0” means 2 digits from that guess are in the PIN, but 0 are in the right place.

What should my sixth attempt be?

codebreakers maths problem

Answer: 6347

7. So many birds – mixed

Type: Triangular Numbers, Sequences, Number, Problem Solving

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave me one gift. On the second day they gave me another pair of gifts plus a copy of what they gave me on day one. On day 3, they gave me three new gifts, plus another copy of everything they’d already given me. If they keep this up, how many gifts will I have after twelve days?

Answer: 364

Bonus: This could be calculated as 1 + (1 + 2) + (1 + 2 + 3) + … but is there an easier way? What percentage of my gifts do I receive on each day?

8. I 8 sum maths questions – mixed

Type: Number, Place Value, Addition, Problem Solving, Reasoning

Using only addition and the digit 8, can you make 1,000? You can put 8s together to make 88, for example.

Answer: 888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 1,000

Bonus: Which other digits allow you to get 1,000 in this way?


Fraction problems

9. Quizzical – easy

Type: Fractions, Adding Fractions, Equivalent Fractions, Fractions to Percentages

4 friends entered a maths quiz. One answered \frac{1}{5} of the maths questions, one answered \frac{1}{10}, one answered \frac{1}{4}, and the other answered \frac{4}{25}. What percentage of the questions did they answer altogether?

Answer: 71%

10. Ancient problem solving – mixed

Type: Fractions, Reasoning, Problem Solving

Ancient Egyptians only used unit fractions (like \frac{1}{2}, \frac{1}{3} or \frac{1}{4}). For \frac{2}{3}, they’d write \frac{1}{3} + \frac{1}{3}. How might they write \frac{5}{8}?

Answer: \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} is correct. So is \frac{1}{2} + \frac{1}{8}.

Bonus: Which solution is better? Why? Can you find any more? What if subtractions are allowed?

Learn more about unit fractions here

11. Everybody wants a pizza the action – hard

Type: Fractions, Reasoning, Problem Solving

An infinite number of mathematicians buy pizza. The first wants \frac{1}{2} pizza. The second wants \frac{1}{4} pizza. The third & fourth want \frac{1}{8} and \frac{1}{16} each, and so on. How many pizzas should they order?

Answer: 1
Each successive mathematician wants a slice that is exactly half of what is left:

circle divided by fractions

12. Shade it black – hard

Type: Fractions, Reasoning, Problem Solving
What fraction of this image is shaded black?

square divided into smaller squares

Answer: \frac{1}{3}

Look at the L-shaped part made up of two white and one black squares: \frac{1}{3} of this part is shaded. Zoom in on the top-right quarter of the image, which looks exactly the same as the whole image, and use the same reasoning to find what fraction of its L-shaped portion is shaded. Imagine zooming in to do the same thing again and again…


Multiplication and division problems

13. Giving is receiving – easy

Type: Number, Reasoning, Problem Solving

5 people give each other a present. How many presents are given altogether?

Answer: 20

14. Sharing is caring – mixed

Type: Number, Reasoning, Problem Solving

I have 20 sweets. If I share them equally with my friends, there are 2 left over. If one more person joins us, there are 6 sweets left. How many friends am I with?

Answer: 6 people altogether (so 5 friends!)

15. Times tables secrets – mixed

Type: Area, 2D Shape, Rectangles

Here are 77 letters:

BYHRCGNGNEOEAAHGHGCURPUTSTSASHHSBOBOREOPEEMEMEELATPEPEFADPHLTLTUT
IEEOHOHLENRYTITIIAGBMTNTNFCGEIIGIG

How many different rectangular grids could you arrange all 77 letters into?

Answer: Four: 1⨉77, 77⨉1, 11⨉7 & 7⨉11. If the letters are arranged into one of these, a message appears, reading down each column starting from the top left.

Bonus: Can you find any more integers with the same number of factors as 77? What do you notice about these factors (think about prime numbers)? Can you use this system to hide your own messages?

16. Laugh it up – hard

Type: Multiples, Lowest Common Multiple, Times Tables, Division, Time

One friend jumps every \frac{1}{3} of a minute. Another jumps every 31 seconds. When will they jump together?

Answer: After 620 seconds

Third Space Learning's online one to one tuition slide on multiplication and division
Maths problems require pupils to apply their knowledge of a topic in a different way,
such as in this maths problem taken from our one to one, online maths tuition (SATs programme).

Geometry problems

17. Pictures of matchstick triangles – easy

Type: 2D Shapes, Equilateral Triangles, Problem Solving, Reasoning

Look at the matchsticks arranged below. How many equilateral triangles are there?

match sticks arranged in triangles

Answer: 13 (9 small, 3 medium, 1 large)

Bonus: What if the biggest triangle only had two matchsticks on each side? What if it had four?

18. Dissecting squares – mixed

Type: Reasoning, Problem Solving

What’s the smallest number of straight lines you could draw on this grid such that each square has a line going through it?

3x3 square

Answer: 2

e.g.

3x3 square with two lines cross each other

19. Make it right – mixed

Type: Pythagoras’ theorem

This triangle does not agree with Pythagoras’ theorem. 

Adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing each of the side lengths by the same integer can fix it. What is the integer?

right angled triangle

Answer:

3 x 1 = 3

8 – 3 = 5

12 ÷ 3 = 4

The new side lengths are 3, 4 and 5 and  32 + 42 = 52.

20. A most regular maths question – hard

Type: Polygons, 2D Shapes, tessellation, reasoning, problem-solving, patterns

What is the regular polygon with the largest number of sides that will self-tessellate?

Answer: Hexagon.

Regular polygons tessellate if one interior angle is a factor of 360°. The interior angle of a hexagon is 120°. This is the largest factor less than 180°.


Problem solving questions

21. Pleased to meet you – easy

Type: Number Problem, Reasoning, Problem-Solving

5 people meet; each shakes everyone else’s hand once. How many handshakes take place?

Answer: 10

Person A shakes 4 people’s hands. Person B has already shaken Person A’s hand, so only needs to shake 3 more, and so on.

Bonus: How many handshakes would there be if you did this with your class?

22. All relative – easy

Type: Number, Reasoning, Problem-Solving

When I was twelve my brother was half my age. I’m 40 now, so how old is he?

Answer: 34

23. It’s about time – mixed

Type: Time, Reasoning, Problem-Solving

When is “8 + 10 = 6” true?

Answer: When you’re telling the time (8am + 10 hours = 6pm)

24. More than a match – mixed

Type: Reasoning, Problem-Solving, Roman Numerals, Numerical Notation

Here are three matches:

three matches

How can you add two more matches, but get eight?

Answer: Put the extra two matches in a V shape to make 8 in Roman Numerals:

5 matches with two organised in v shape

25. Leonhard’s graph – hard

Type: Reasoning, Problem-Solving, Logic

Leonhard’s town has seven bridges as shown below. Can you find a route around the town that crosses every bridge exactly once?

river, islands and seven bridges

Answer: No!

This is a classic real life historical maths problem solved by mathematician Leonhard Euler (rhymes with “boiler”). The city was Konigsberg in Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Not being able to find a solution is different to proving that there aren’t any! Euler managed to do this in 1736, practically inventing graph theory in the process.

Maths puzzles are everywhere!

Many of these 25 maths problems are rooted in real life, from everyday occurrences to historical events. Others are just questions that might arise if you say “what if…?”. The point is that although there are many lists of such problem solving maths questions that you can make use of, with a little bit of experience and inspiration you could create your own on almost any topic – and so could your students. 

For a kick-starter on creating your own maths problems, read our article on KS3 maths problem solving.

Looking for additional support and resources at KS3?

You are welcome to download any of the secondary maths resources from Third Space Learning’s resource library for free. There is a section devoted to GCSE maths revision with plenty of maths worksheets and GCSE maths questions. There are also maths tests for KS3, including a Year 7 maths test, a Year 8 maths test and a Year 9 maths test

Other valuable maths practice and ideas particularly around reasoning and problem solving at secondary can be found in our KS3 and KS4 maths blog articles. Try these fun maths problems for KS2 and KS3, SSDD problems, KS3 maths games and 30 problem solving maths questions.

For children who need more support, our maths intervention programmes for KS3 achieve outstanding results through a personalised one to one tuition approach.

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to address learning gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

Subsidised one to one maths tutoring from the UK’s most affordable DfE-approved one to one tutoring provider.

Tom Briggs
Tom Briggs
Tom spends part of his working week teaching maths, and the rest helping museums to take educational advantage of the rich seams of mathematics running through their collections. It's easy to get him talking about the M-word, which is why he writes for Third Space Learning!
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25 Fun Maths Problems - Printable

25 Fun Maths Problems - Printable

Download a printable version of these fun maths problems together with answers and mark scheme.

Download Free!

25 Fun Maths Problems - Printable

Downloadable resource

Download a printable version of these fun maths problems together with answers and mark scheme.

Download Free!
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