A Maths Starter of The Day

Which group of four numbers, arranged in a square, has the largest total?

  A B C D E F G H I J
1 1 1 1 3 4 5 5 5 4 2
2 2 3 1 4 2 3 3 3 1 4
3 1 1 1 2 5 1 2 4 4 1
4 5 5 1 3 4 3 3 5 3 3
5 1 1 1 2 4 1 5 2 3 4
6 2 3 2 4 1 4 3 3 4 1

Which group of four numbers, arranged in a square, has the smallest total?



Topics: Starter | Arithmetic | Mental Methods

  • Transum,
  • Without using pen and paper, completely relying on your mental abilities, how would you, as a teacher, work on this challenge? There are buttons below to change the range of numbers used in the grid. Does your strategy work for larger numbers too? This type of mental exercise builds abilities to cope with multi-step mathematical solutions required for more complex problems.

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.

Previous Day | This starter is for 3 July | Next Day



Sign in to your Transum subscription account to see the answers



Change Numbers


Note to teacher: Doing this activity once with a class helps students develop strategies. It is only when they do this activity a second time that they will have the opportunity to practise those strategies. That is when the learning is consolidated. Click the button above to regenerate another version of this starter from random numbers.

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 I have chosen and recommend to get you started. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases which helps pay for the upkeep of this website.


GCSE Revision and Practice

Whatever exam board you use for GCSE Mathematics, this book by David Rayner remains an all-round winner. With this latest edition presented in full colour and completely updated for the new GCSE(9-1) specifications, this uniquely effective text continues to increase your chance of obtaining a good grade.

This book is targeted at the Higher tier GCSE, and provides a wealth of practice with careful progression, alongside substantial revision support for the new-style grading and exam questions. With all the new topics included, and a dedicated section on using and applying mathematics, this unique resource can be used either as a course book over two or three years or as a revision text in the run-up to exams. more...

Maths T-Shirts

Maths T-shirts on Amazon
Maths T-Shirts on Amazon

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 called Discombobulated.


Student Activity

Curriculum Reference

See the National Curriculum page for links to related online activities and resources.


©1997-2021 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG