Puzzle stories and riddles make great classroom activities. You can use them as warmups, fillers or cool downs. Puzzle stories help develop speaking skills and serve as a great way to practice asking questions. Discover ways to use these stories as well as some special puzzle stories that you can put to use with your students today.
How to Use Puzzle Stories
As a Whole Class
Present the puzzle to your students by either explaining them or writing/showing them on the board. Explain that students can ask you anything they like to try and work out the answer, but they can only ask questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no." This way students won’t be able to ask direct questions to arrive at the solution quickly. If you have a talkative class, encourage them to ask lots of questions. Allow about two to four minutes for this, or until they become frustrated. If a student works out the answer, ask them to explain it to the rest of the class.
In Pairs or Small Groups
If working with intermediate or advanced students, give one member of each pair/group a puzzle story and the answer. The other student/s ask him/her yes/no questions to work out the solution. Depending on the complexity of the story, allow students between 2 to 4 minutes before asking them to swap and giving another story to another student.
With Individual Students
A great homework assignment or project for the class is to ask students to come up with (or find) and present their own puzzle story. Allow students to present their stories to the rest of the class just like the class activity above with other learners asking ‘yes/no’ questions to arrive at the answers.
Puzzle Stories for You to Use
Use these puzzle stories with students to help them develop their speaking and creative thinking skills.
1. Some months have thirty days, some months have thirty one, but how many have twenty eight days?
Answer: All the months of the year have twenty eight days!
2. If you had only one match and went into a dark room where there was an oil lamp, some paper and some wood, which one of these items would you light first?
Answer: You would light the match first!
3. A man builds a square house with four sides. Each side faces south. A big bear comes past his house. What colour is the bear?
Answer: It’s white. It’s a polar bear. The only place where all the walls can face south is in the centre of the North Pole.
4. If you drove a bus with 42 people on it from Paris and stopped at Berlin, you picked up 12 more people and drove to Rome, dropped off 6 people and then drove to Moscow and arrived back in France 24 hours later, what is the driver’s name?
Answer: What’s your name again?
5. A man went into a field with a pack on his back and died. What happened?
Answer: He fell out of an aeroplane. The pack on his back is a parachute. It didn’t work.
6. A man walked into a bar in America. He asked for a glass of water. The barman took a shotgun out from under the counter and pointed it at the man. After a few seconds the man said ‘thank you’ and walked out. Why?
Answer: He wasn’t thirsty. The man had hiccups. The shock made his hiccups go away.
7. A dark skinned man, dressed in a black suit and dark glasses walks down a country road with no streetlights. A black car with no lights on comes racing down the road. Why doesn’t the car hit the man?
Answer: It’s daylight.
8. In the middle of the desert there is a naked, dead body with a small stick in its hand. It’s 200km to the nearest house in all directions. Next to the body are two pairs of shoes, two shirts, two pairs of shorts. There is also a bag of sand. What happened?
Answer: The body fell out of a hot air balloon. The balloon must have been losing height. So, the two inside dropped the sandbags over the side. It didn’t work and they were still losing height. They took off their clothes but the balloon was still falling. They decided to draw straws. The person with the smallest straw would jump out. That’s why the body was naked and had a stick in thehand.
9. A man lives on the seven floor of a tower block. Every day he takes the lift down to the ground floor and walks to work. He works in a circus school. Every evening he comes back, takes the lift to the fourth floor and then walks the rest of the way. Oh…except if it’s raining, then he goes all the way to the seventh floor. Why?
Answer: He’s a dwarf. He works as a clown teacher at the circus school. He can only reach the fourth button in the lift, except if it’s raining and he has his umbrella, them he can use the umbrella to press the seventh floor button.
10. In the middle of the ocean there is a deserted, luxury yacht filled with food and drink. Around it, are dead bodies floating in the water. What happened?
Answer: The people on the yacht decided to have a swim so they jumped off the boat. Someone forgot to put the ladder down!
For more puzzle stories, check out our selection of riddles on BusyTeacher.
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