Pyramid Puzzle

Put the numbers 1 to 5 in the bottom row of this pyramid. They can be arranged in any order. The numbers in the other bricks are found by adding the two bricks immediately below together. What arrangement of the numbers in the bottom row gives the largest total in the top brick of the pyramid?

What arrangement gives the
smallest total in the top brick
of the pyramid?

A pyramid puzzle worksheet is available here

A Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day


Topics: Starter | Algebra | Arithmetic | Number | Problem Solving

  • Claire Erving, Clapham
  • Loved this starter - worked for a wide range of ages and abilities. I also extended it by getting the pupils to multiply - though you do get an answer in millions!
  • Sue Johnson,
  • Excellent preparation for Yr 7 equation work See Badger Starters and Constructing Linear Equations pack
  • class 5 6 a, St Catherines
  • A really fun way to start the day!
  • Simon Sandys, Northwood College
  • My students showed me that the logical way to get the highest score is to put 5 in the middle so that you are maximising the highest number and 1 and 2 on the sides so that you are minimising their effects. The opposite, of course, to find the lowest number.
  • Teacher Paul, Dublin Ireland
  • My Year 5 class loved this starter..Worked great together in small groups..
  • Neve - Year 6, Charnwood Primary Lichfield
  • A good starter as it got my brain working!
  • Poppy Larn, Dorking
  • This is a great website!
  • Mr Draper, Harrogate
  • This puzzle was challenging, fun and got everyone in my year 5 class thinking. One pupil described it as 'mind-boggling'!
  • Neve, Hothfield Junior School
  • We did this at school and it was really fun. I was able to get the smallest and the largest and it is really fun to experiment with.

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
Click here to enter your comments.

If you don't have the time to provide feedback we'd really appreciate it if you could give this page a score! We are constantly improving and adding to these starters so it would be really helpful to know which ones are most useful. Simply click on a button below:

Excellent, I would like to see more like this
Good, achieved the results I required
Didn't really capture the interest of the students
Not for me! I wouldn't use this type of activity.

This starter has scored a mean of 3.5 out of 5 based on 723 votes.

Previous Day | This starter is for 4 January | Next Day



There is a printable worksheet to go with this activity.


Your access to the majority of the Transum resources continues to be free but you can help support the continued growth of the website by doing your Amazon shopping using the links on this page. Below is an Amazon search box and some items chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics to get you started.

Have you read Craig's book yet?

Craig Barton must surely be the voice of Mathematics teachers in the UK. His wonderful podcasts interviewing the industry experts have culminated in this wonderful book. As Craig says: "I genuinely believe I have never taught mathematics better, and my students have never learned more. I just wish I had known all of this twelve years ago..." more...

"How I wish I'd taught Maths" is an extraordinary and important book. Part guide to research, part memoir, part survival handbook, it’s a wonderfully accessible guide to the latest research on teaching mathematics, presented in a disarmingly honest and readable way. I know of no other book that presents as much usable research evidence on the dos and don’ts of mathematics teaching in such a clear and practical way. No matter how long you have been doing it, if you teach mathematics—from primary school to university—this book is for you." Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL.

The Craig Barton Book

Casio Classwiz Calculator

There is currently a lot of talk about this new calculator being the best in its price range for use in the Maths classroom. The new ClassWiz features a high-resolution display making it easier to view numerical formulas and symbols but it isn't a graphical calculator as such (it has the capacity to draw graphs on your smart phone or tablet, via a scannable QR code and an app).

As well as basic spreadsheet mode and an equation solving feature you also get the ability to solve quadratic, cubic or quartic polynomial inequalities and the answer is given just as it should be written down, using the correct inequality symbols!

This calculator has a high-performance processor and twice the memory of previous models ensuring speedy operation and superior computational power.more...

Online Maths Shop

Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers?
Do they have iPads or Laptops in Lessons?

Whether your students each have a TabletPC, a Surface or a Mac, this activity lends itself to eLearning (Engaged Learning).

Laptops In Lessons

Here a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments.

Here is the URL which will take them to a related student activity.

Student Activity



©1997-2019 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG