Ladies and Gentlemen: Roll up, Roll up, because I’m going to give you, at positively no charge, my all-time winner of the “Sir’s busy and must not be interrupted for any reason whatsoever” award. You can use it with virtually any group and every child will get lots of lovely arithmetic practice; there’s pattern and symmetry, exploration, hypothesis, searching for completeness, and no doubt more bedsides.

The previous post gives you a 4×4 magic square, so we know that each of the four rows, the four columns, and the two diagonals all add up to the magic number. For example:

But what we often fail to notice is that these aren’t the only sets of four numbers that add up to 34. Try, for example, the numbers in the corners. Then look at some of these configurations (and won’t each one suggest some more arrangements to try?).

How many patterns do you think there are? (I give children a sheet with 35 grids – but that may or may not give you a clue.) This is, incidentally, another wonderful activity to have available for parents to try on an Open Evening. Give them plenty of grids, pens, a large expanse of wall to fill, and let them get on with it.

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