Session Style: Try a Smaller Problem

Activity Authors
Activity Circles
Click To Sort By
  • 1st - 2nd (5)
  • 3rd - 5th (13)
  • 6th - 8th (21)
  • 9th - 12th (19)
  • College Level (13)
  • For Teachers (11)
  • Algebra / Arithmetic (8)
  • Combinatorics (12)
  • Geometry (10)
  • Mathematical Games (6)
  • Mathematical Modeling (7)
  • Number Theory (4)
  • Problem Solving / General (14)
  • Probability and Statistics (1)
Supporting Materials
Supporting Materials
  • Facilitator Guides (20)
  • Handouts (11)
  • Lesson Plan (1)
  • Photos & Videos (17)
  • References (13)
  • Virtual Tools (8)
Session Styles
Session Styles
  • Integrates Technology (7)
  • Kinesthetic Element (2)
  • Manipulatives (13)
  • Multiple Representations (6)
  • Problem Posing (10)
  • Problem Sets (12)
  • Try a Smaller Problem (9)
  • Work Backwards (4)
Mathematical Practices
Mathematical Practices
  • MP1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. (20)
  • MP2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (10)
  • MP3 - Construct viable arguments and critique others' reasoning. (12)
  • MP4 - Model with mathematics. (11)
  • MP5 - Use appropriate tools strategically. (7)
  • MP6 - Attend to precision. (5)
  • MP7 - Look for and make use of structure. (16)
  • MP8 - Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. (12)

Factor Game


A teacher challenges students to a game. The rules are explained as the game progresses. The player with the highest total wins! Students then play against each other. Afterwards, while analyzing the game, prime, composite, perfect, deficient, and abundant numbers are discovered and defined. Students again play the game using the strategies they determined.

In a professional development video, teachers focus on the topic of number systems and number theory using a game setting to investigate the properties of prime, composite, abundant, deficient, and perfect numbers. This video can be used in conjunction with The Factor Game lesson plan.

Flipping Pancakes


The Pancake Problem, first posed in 1975, is a sorting problem with connections to computer science and DNA rearrangements, which leads to discussions of algorithms, sequences, and the usefulness of approximations and bounds.

The original problem was first posed by mathematician Jacob Goodman under the pen name “Harry Dweighter” (read it quickly) in 1975, and it has delighted math enthusiasts (including undergraduate Bill Gates) ever since!

I Walk the Line


Your regular commute begins at your house and ends at your office at the corner of 5th street and 6th avenue. You have been making this trip for years, but you are the restless (or adventurous) type, and you try to take a different route each day. At some point, you start to wonder how long it will take you to try all of the routes.

Oh, did I mention that you have to avoid the zombies?

Supreme Court Handshakes


Developed as part of the Math Circles of Inquiry project, this session is a good introduction to the 8th grade or Algebra Math curriculum using inquiry based instruction. Students are asked to use their problem solving skills in order to determine the relationship between the number of Supreme Court justices and handshakes that occur when each pair shakes hands exactly once. Students will begin exploring with simpler numbers and work up to creating an algebraic expression to represent the function. This lesson allows for multiple representations by using a table, list, circle diagram, matrix and manipulatives.

Humans, Zombies, & Other Problems Crossing the River


A town faces an epidemic of zombies! Luckily, the virus has just started to spread and the infected are able to stave off their hunger for human brains… for now. In fact, they’re willing to work alongside the remaining humans to help them get across a river to safety. Can you get all the humans and zombies across safely?

Scroll to Top