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

Scroll down the
page to find the
link to the interactive, self-checking pupil version of Pyramid Puzzle.

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.
  • Yazan Alamer, Dubai International Academy
  • I loved that starter challenge. It was so fun and helped me with my maths skills.
  • Maths Brainy Badgers, United Kingdom
  • We found this fun. Charlie was very logical and managed to find the biggest number.

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.

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There is a printable worksheet to go with this activity.


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Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers such as tablets, iPads or Laptops?  This page was really designed for projection on a whiteboard but if you really want the students to have access to it here is a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments:

However it would be better to assign one of the student interactive activities below.

Laptops In Lessons

Here is the URL which will take them to the student version of this activity.

Student Activity

Here is another activity using the same idea but introducing nagatives and fractions.

Student Activity



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