Six Strips

Here’s an activity I like the look of. At the end I’ll mention how it came about.

Our school has problem-solving and enthusiasm to accept challenges among its aims, so even though many of the children I meet are those who need a bit of a legup they’re usually very positive about mathematics. Certainly after a week or two of working together I’ll usually expect to be able to throw something at them and expect them to get stuck in to making sense of an unfamiliar starting point.

So in this case I’ll probably give them the six strips, sit back with a benign smile, and see what happens.

Another view:

I reckon there are a couple of clues that will help. One strip has four equals signs, so it looks likely there are four statements to sort out.

There are two strips with operation signs. Either that means one is to be used and the other discarded, or that both are needed, in which case each statement will involve two operations.

The zero looks useful. Assuming there are no leading zeroes – and if there were, why is there only one – then there must be a 10, or a 20 or a …., involved.

And running throughout this is the fact that for each of the strips (well, five of them anyway) you’ve got to find which way up they need to go.

In a perfect world I could use this tomorrow, get feedback, and devise a couple more, but it looks as if it will be a bit longer before I can find any guinea pigs.


Note: the stimulus for this was a recent post by the prolific Sarah Carter ( @mathequalslove ), which in turn she credited to Erich Friedman. My feeling was the version she posted, which had eight strips ( ), was a bit too fierce for me to use as a starter, but might have a part to play later on.

Sarah has a very individual style of presenting an activity, so her posts are always instantly recognisable. Do check her out at



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