3-Act Tasks


3-Act tasks provide engaging, thought-provoking contexts for mathematical enquiry. Act 1 shows the context for the enquiry and allows children to generate questions - what do they wonder? What extra information do they need? In act 2, more information is provided; children are then given the chance to speculate and calculate before the solution is revealed in act 3!

The concept of 3-act tasks is explained in this brilliant Dan Meyer TED talk and the examples below have been written by the inspirational Graham Fletcher - click here to see all of Graham's 3-act tasks. I hope to design some 3-act tasks of my own soon!

Suggested Year GroupTitle (click link)DescriptionAuthor
Reception-Y1DottyOn each 'ding' a new circle appears; count the sounds to work out the number of circles in the final pattern.Graham Fletcher
Reception-Y1The CandymanThe man puts a coin in the candy machine - how many sweets are released into his hand?Graham Fletcher
Reception-Y1Peas in a PodIn act 1 we see the number of peas in two green beans; how many peas are there in the three new green beans?Graham Fletcher
Y1-Y2Humpty DumptyOh no - the egg box is knocked to the floor: how may eggs are broken?Graham Fletcher
Y1-Y2Counting SquaresHow many red and yellow squares are there in the big pile? And can children make the pattern shown in act 2?Graham Fletcher
Y1-Y2Share the LoveIt's never easy sharing sweets: help the two sisters to share the bag of sweets in a way that is fair.Graham Fletcher
Y1-Y2Shark BaitJust how long is the worm on the beach? Estimate its length using the clues provided.Graham Fletcher
Y2-Y3The Cookie MonsterThe cookie monster has found a packet of biscuits: how many does he eat? Act 2 shows how many left in the packet!Graham Fletcher
Y3-Y4The Whopper JarIt takes a few packets of Whoppers to fill up the jar: how many Whoppers are in the jar in total?Graham Fletcher
Y3-Y4Bright IdeaThe age-old question: how many skittles does it take to fill a lightbulb?Graham Fletcher
Y3-Y5Stage 5 SeriesExplore and recreate different patterns to continue the sequences - five different videos.Graham Fletcher
Y4-Y5Modelling OutfitsHow many ways can Zoolander be dressed? Think systematically to find the solution!Graham Fletcher
Y4-Y5Rope JumperWe see the start of a world record jump-rope attempt: scale up to estimate the number of jumps done in 30 seconds!Graham Fletcher
Y4-Y5Paper CutThe A4 paper is cut into two pieces: estimate and compare the two areas.Graham Fletcher
Y4-Y5The Water BoyThe water boy is thirsty: how many millilitres of water does he drink?Graham Fletcher
Y5-Y6The ClapperWe see the start of a clapping world record attempt: predict the number of claps in one minute.Graham Fletcher
Y5-Y6Krispy KremeIt takes three people to get the gigantic Krispy Kreme box into a van: how many donuts?Graham Fletcher
Y5-Y6For the WinIt's a black ball game: the player must get his angles right to pot the final ball and win the frame!Graham Fletcher
Y5-Y6Geared UpAfter one turn, the differently-sized gears don't line up - how many turns until they are back to their starting positions?Graham Fletcher
Y6The AppleHow many cubes weigh the same as one apple? Act 2 shows the weight of the apple and one cube as a fraction.Graham Fletcher
Y6OverflowHow many cubes go into the container to make the water overflow? Act 2 gives the dimensions of container and cube!Graham Fletcher

Robert Kaplinsky's Open Middle Tasks also give excellent opportunities for mathematical exploration.