Start of main content
Age Range: 5-7 | 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • Maths

Maths tea party

Can you position the tea party items into a square grid so that each row and column contains one of each?

Make learning fun with this engaging maths game for children! 
Download the activity sheet below and try out our five maths challenges. Go through each one in turn to make up this fun maths lesson for 5-to-11-year-olds. 
Can you position the tea party items into a square grid so that each row and column contains one of each? 

Activity: Fun maths game for kids (Maths tea party) 

This activity links to a 200-year-old maths puzzle and also to Latin Squares or Euler Squares which form the basis of popular Sudoku puzzles. The aim is to position different coloured items into a square grid so that each row and column contains one of each. 
The lesson starts with someone arranging 9 cups, three of each colour, in a 3 by 3 square so that there is only one of each colour in each row and column. The lesson continues by adding a fourth coloured cup and placing all 16 in a 4 by 4 grid. The final stage introduces the idea of different colour and different items for the tea party. The challenge is to arrange red, white and blue sets of cups, saucers and plates into a 3 by 3 grid and then 4 sets, including a teaspoon this time, into a 4 by 4 grid. This time there has to be one of each colour and one of each item in the grids. 
The purpose of this activity is to explore problem solving strategies including trial and improvement, pattern spotting and using known strategies to tackle a new problem. 
There is also the opportunity to explore rotation and symmetry and to use these as problem solving strategies. The final slides provide the history of the puzzle and a bit of algebra to explain the problem. 

Tools/resources required

  • 3 x 3 grids
  • 4 x 4 grids
  • 4 colours of counters
  • Images of cups, saucers, plates, spoons in 4 different colours


Leonhard Euler is considered one of the most important mathematicians of the 18th Century. He was born in Switzerland but spent most of his adult life in Russia and Germany. Euler made numerous important discoveries in calculus and topology. He also created many of the words we use in math today. 

The engineering context

The power of technology is to solve problems. It was almost 200 years before mathematics were able to prove that Euler was wrong and it took a computer to help them as the task was so great. 

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity pupils will be able to use patterns and shapes to solve problems and make generalisations and apply them to solve problems. 

Download the free Fun maths game for kids (Maths tea party) activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs. 
The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 
Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

Related resources