Three wise guys (Balth, Melch and Gaz) each bought you a gift. The total cost of the gifts was £38. Find as many sets of gifts as possible which add up to £38

£30 £15 £5 £32
£38 £2 £9 £14
£29 £27 £3 £6
£4 £28 £31 £33

Teacher: Collect together students' findings by clicking on the numbers above.

They don't add up to 38

A Mathematics Lesson Starter Of The Day

Globe of Flags

This activity is suitable for students of mathematics all around the world. Use the button below to change the currency symbol used to make it more relevant to your students. You may wish to choose an unfamiliar currency to extend your students' experience.

Globe of Flags

Topics: Starter | Arithmetic | Mental Methods | Xmas

You can find many more ChristMaths activities at:


  • Chris Southward, Limehouse School Cumbria
  • Year 7 found four more which you haven't mentioned in your triplets summing to 34 list. 24,3,7 - 24,5,5 - 25,3,6, and 23,7,4
  • Liz Masshedar, Peterlee
  • Just found this site. Already my year 6 pupils are reminding me to find the day's challenge. It is a really good resource to start the maths lesson and give them something to think about. Thanks!
  • A O'Hagan, First year Holyrood Sec Glasgow
  • Cesco and Asim found two more...22,8,4 and 21,8,5. The whole class managed to find all the others.
  • Mrs Humphreys' Maths group, Nevill Road Juniors, Bramhall, Stockport
  • We (year 6) found another 6 triplets that weren't mentioned.
  • Class 5, Speyside
  • We found 10, did yoy find any more?
  • Emma Roach,
  • We got 11 different triplets.
    Did this with bottom set year 8 who loved doing it!
  • P5, Giffnock Primary
  • P5 at Giffnock Primary School found 12 triplets!!
  • Class 2/6, Lauren Cowie
  • This was too easy for us and not very challenging, and not up to the usual standard.
  • Room 2 Maths, Taradale Intermediate
  • We are pretty choice, because we got 13!!
  • Stewart, Direk Schools South Australia
  • Year 6/7 class found 12 combination.
  • 2V, Stromness Academy
  • We got 14!
  • M Ozog, Inverkiething High School
  • 4MA5 found 13
    Well done.
  • Mr M's Nice But Dim Group, Canggu Community School, Bali
  • Zac found 15, but then Zac can't count. We actually found 11 as a whole class, love the starters - keep it up!
  • Miss Nixey, Dartington Primary School
  • Year 5 and 6 at Dartington Primary School found 15 different ways. Well done everyone!
  • 1AFG2, Dyce Academy
  • Dyce Academy got 15 triplets. We are very smart!
  • Mrs Renny, BTJS
  • 5GR at Bishop Tufnell found 14 triplets!
  • Mrs D, Chadsmead Lichfield
  • Chadsmead year 5 got 14!
  • Katie Pasby, Hampton College
  • I found 17 triplets.
  • Mrs Rush, Reepham High
  • 8MAH found 13 and are still looking!
  • Mrs Simpson, Forres Academy
  • Our S1 class got 15 triplets! Enjoyed this challenge.
  • Year 10, Welshpool High School
  • We reckon there is lot more than 17. At least 30!
  • Year 9 Set 3 2011, Welshpool High School, Powys, Wales
  • Kirsty found 16 which we thought was really good. Louis and Alistair found 14.Others ranged down to 3.
  • Mr Morriss Class 7B3, Montgomery High School
  • We spend 5 mins individually and then gathered our answers together and got 16 as a class!!! We really enjoyed this task and got pretty competitive between ourselves and the rest of the Schools that commented on here!!
  • 7b3, Derby High School
  • This is a good puzzle we'd like to see more like this.
  • E Walters, Brigshaw High School
  • We found 18! We are good!

  • Stewart, Lake Windemere
  • Room 17
    Year 6/7 class found 16.
  • Mr Gregory, Lincolnshire
  • We found 13! Mr Gregory reckons there definitely are no more than that (but he did miss one out earlier).
  • Mrs Taylor, North Muirton
  • Our P6 class are awesome, we got 21! we love these challenges.
  • Trevor Lewis, Nortonthorpe Hall School
  • We found 27 and then had to give up for time.
  • 7 BM1, Harlow
  • We found 30 but we ran out of time!
  • Kirsty . I . Brown, Selkirk, Scotish Borders (Selkirk High School)
  • This was a really good acivity and it was fun, I didnt do it at school but I did it at home and it was fun, I have a long list of sums that add up to thirty and it was really good, I would like to see more of this!
  • Matthew, 3D, Craigslea State School
  • For a total of 40, I had these 14:
    1. 27, 7, 6
    2. 21, 11, 8
    3. 15, 14, 11
    4. 24, 10, 6
    5. 22, 11, 7
    6. 24, 9, 7
    7. 26, 8, 6
    8. 23, 9, 8
    9. 25, 8, 7
    10. 21, 10, 9
    11. 22, 10, 8
    12. 27, 8, 7
    13. 23, 10, 7
    14. 24, 9, 7.
  • The 4x4 grid that came up for me comprised of the numbers: 3,6,7,8,9,10,13,14,14,15,15,16,17,18,19 and 32.
    I've found the following 13 triplets that total 32 (without double counting): (as there are two 13s and two 14s in the grid)
    (8,10,14) and
  • P6/7, St Elizabeths
  • We loved this problem and managed to find 26 solutions!
  • S3, Speyside High School
  • We found 13 all together and had good fun too. Thank you!
  • Star Primary,
  • Year 6 at Star Primary got 12! :).
  • Year 6, AAESS
  • We enjoyed this activity and found lots of possible answers.
  • Mrs Robinson, 8 - 3
  • We found 35 Y8 St Bernards.
  • Mrs Anderson, Newark
  • We loved it. Pine Y5 got 46 tripllets! Well Done!
  • Da Vinci, William Martin Junior School
  • One student got 30 possible answers. We enjoyed the activity.
  • Nadeem, England
  • Wow! this is a very good stater of the day. Already my Year 6s have found 29 sums, which Im really proud of! Fantastic!
  • Mr Gray, Buscksburn Maths, Twitter
  • Came up with loads of combinations. Even more when we realised the website let us use the same number twice.
  • Mr Ian Stevenson, Orched Head Primary School
  • Triplets are the best thing I have shown my class.
  • Laura Whittaker, St Mark's
  • We found 27 different ways to make 40!
  • All Saints Maths Department, Twitter

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 10 December | Next Day



33+2+3 28+4+6 27+5+6
29+4+5 31+3+4 30+3+5
32+2+4 9+14+15  

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.

Christmas Present Ideas

It is often very difficult choosing Christmas presents for family and friends but so here are some seasonal, mathematics-related gifts chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics.

Equate board game

Here's a great board game that will give any family with school-aged kids hours of worthwhile fun. Christmas is a time for board games but this one will still be useful at any time of year. Games can be adapted to suit many levels of Mathematical ability.

For Maths tutors working with just one or small groups of pupils this game has proved to be an excellent activity for a tutorial. Deciding on the best moves can spark pertinent discussions about mathematical concepts.

Equate looks a bit like Scrabble--for aspiring mathematicians, that is. Designed by a real mathematician, it works like this: You put down tiles on a board and make points by correctly completing simple equations. Your nine tiles include both numbers and mathematical symbols; you can add on to previous plays both vertically and horizontally. more...

How Not To Be Wrong

The maths we learn in school can seem like an abstract set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In fact, Jordan Ellenberg shows us, maths touches on everything we do, and a little mathematical knowledge reveals the hidden structures that lie beneath the world's messy and chaotic surface. In How Not to be Wrong, Ellenberg explores the mathematician's method of analyzing life, from the everyday to the cosmic, showing us which numbers to defend, which ones to ignore, and when to change the equation entirely. Along the way, he explains calculus in a single page, describes Gödel's theorem using only one-syllable words, and reveals how early you actually need to get to the airport.

What more could the inquisitive adult want for Christmas? This book makes a cosy, interesting read in front of the fire on those cold winter evenings. more...

Graphic Display Calculator

This handheld device and companion software are designed to generate opportunities for classroom exploration and to promote greater understanding of core concepts in the mathematics and science classroom. TI-Nspire technology has been developed through sound classroom research which shows that "linked multiple representation are crucial in development of conceptual understanding and it is feasible only through use of a technology such as TI-Nspire, which provides simultaneous, dynamically linked representations of graphs, equations, data, and verbal explanations, such that a change in one representation is immediately reflected in the others.

For the young people in your life it is a great investment. Bought as a Christmas present but useful for many years to come as the young person turns into an A-level candidate then works their way through university. more...

Apple iPad Pro

The analytics show that more and more people are accessing Transum Mathematics via an iPad as it is so portable and responsive. The iPad has so many other uses in addition to solving Transum's puzzles and challenges and it would make an excellent gift for anyone.

The redesigned Retina display is as stunning to look at as it is to touch. It all comes with iOS, the world's most advanced mobile operating system. iPad Pro. Everything you want modern computing to be. more...

Before giving an iPad as a Christmas gift you could add a link to iPad Maths to the home screen.

Aristotle's Number Puzzle

It’s a bit of a tradition to give puzzles as Christmas Gifts to nieces and nephews. This puzzle is ideal for the keen puzzle solver who would like a challenge that will continue over the festive period (at least!).

This number puzzle involves nineteen numbers arranged into a hexagon. The goal of the puzzle is to rearrange the numbers so each of the fifteen rows add up to 38. It comes in a wooden style with an antique, aged look.

Keep the Maths in Christmaths with this reasonably priced stocking filler. more...

The Story Of Maths [DVD]

The films in this ambitious series offer clear, accessible explanations of important mathematical ideas but are also packed with engaging anecdotes, fascinating biographical details, and pivotal episodes in the lives of the great mathematicians. Engaging, enlightening and entertaining, the series gives viewers new and often surprising insights into the central importance of mathematics, establishing this discipline to be one of humanity s greatest cultural achievements. This DVD contains all four programmes from the BBC series.

Marcus du Sautoy's wonderful programmes make a perfect Christmas gift more...

Christmas Maths

This book provides a wealth of fun activities with a Christmas theme. Each photocopiable worksheet is matched to the Numeracy Strategy and compatible with the Scottish 5-14 Guidelines. This series is designed for busy teachers in the late Autumn term who are desperate for materials that are relevant and interesting and that can be completed with minimun supervision.

All the activities are suitable for use by class teachers, supply teachers, SEN teachers and classroom assistants and cover topics such as 'How many partridges did the true love give all together?' and 'Filling a sleigh with presents by rolling a dice!'. Children will have lots of fun working through the Christmas Maths themes but also gain valuable skills along the way.

A great source of ideas and another reasonably priced stocking filler. more...

A Compendium Of 	Mathematical Methods

A Compendium Of Mathematical Methods

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...

Math with Bad Drawings

I had been tutoring the wonderful Betsy for five years. When the day came for our last ever session together before the end of her Year 13, I received this beautiful book as a gift of appreciation.

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. more...

Click the images above to see all the details of these gift ideas and to buy them online.

Maths T-Shirts

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

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 link. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases which helps pay for the upkeep of this website.

Educational Technology on Amazon


Online Maths Shop

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 student version of this activity.

Student Activity



©1997-2022 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG