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 | Functions | 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.
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Excellent, I would like to see more like this
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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 3.4 out of 5 based on 925 votes.

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There is a printable worksheet to go with this activity.


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This a very readable book by Ben Orlin. I'm really enjoying the humour in the writing and the drawings are great.

Ben Orlin answers maths' three big questions: Why do I need to learn this? When am I ever going to use it? Why is it so hard? The answers come in various forms-cartoons, drawings, jokes, and the stories and insights of an empathetic teacher who believes that mathematics should belong to everyone.

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How many different methods do you know to solve simultaneous equations? To multiply decimals? To find the nth term of a sequence?

A Compendium of Mathematical Methods brings together over one hundred different approaches from classrooms all over the world, giving curious mathematicians the opportunity to explore fascinating methods that they've never before encountered.

If you teach mathematics to any age group in any country, you are guaranteed to learn lots of new things from this delightful book. It will deepen your subject knowledge and enhance your teaching, whatever your existing level of expertise. It will inspire you to explore new approaches with your pupils and provide valuable guidance on explanations and misconceptions. more...

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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



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