13 Classroom Brain Teasers

13 brain teasers

Just like getting ready for a 100-metre race or FA Cup Final, you’ve got to warm-up the essential muscles and that includes the brain. Here are some fun warm-ups to get young minds engaged. 

1. The Four Chair Trick

You’ll need; 4 chairs.

A fantastic trust-building exercise and a great way to add a wow factor to the start of your lesson. Split the class into groups of 4 and challenge them to complete the trick before the rest of the room.

2. The Human Knot

You’ll need; Nothing.

Ask your students to stand in a circle and reach across with their left hand, holding on to the first hand they reach. Then do the same with their right, if done correctly, they should form a sort of human knot. They then have to find their way out without letting go of each other.

3. Class Countdown

You’ll need; An interactive whiteboard.

An oldie but a goldie. Load the Countdown theme on YouTube and give your classroom a series of word and number-based challenges like the ones featured on the classic TV game show.

4. 20 Questions

You’ll need; Nothing.

Choose a literary character or historical figure and give your class 20 yes-or-no-answer questions in which to figure out what/who you are. A great way to warm up and recap what they’ve learned from the previous lesson.

5. Three Truths and a Lie

You’ll need; A whiteboard.

It’s like Would I Lie to You with Albert Einstein. Choose a historical figure, author or theorist you’ve been studying and research three truths about them, then make up a lie. Put them on the interactive whiteboard and ask your class to correctly guess the false truth. This is both a great mental warm-up and a brilliant way to introduce some surprising facts.

6. The Genius Test

You’ll need; Paper and a marker pen.

Draw nine thick dots on a sheet of A4 as seen below, your students then have to draw through all the dots using only 4 straight lines, which each line beginning where the last ended.

7. The Bus Challenge

You’ll need; Paper and a marker pen.

Write the word “bus” with equal spacing between each letter. The challenge is to draw a bus incorporating the original letters in the image. See below for the solution to this artistic ‘teaser.

8. The Handcuff Game

You’ll need; Two long pieces of string tied in hand-sized loops at either end.

Working in pairs, the students are attached using the loose-fitting string/rope handcuffs. The first pair to escape are the winners (but they must show you how they did it). Or will you let them stay this way forever?

9. Logic Puzzles

You’ll need; An interactive whiteboard.

Some people claim this as one of the toughest logic puzzles ever. You could even time your classes and create a leaderboard to add a competitive element.

10. Cup Pyramid

You’ll need; String, a rubber band, 5 plastic cups.

Attach four lengths of string to each corner of an elastic band and hand each end to four different students. They then play the role of fairground crane as they try to construct a pyramid out of the five cups, using only the elastic band and string to build it.

11. Minute to Win It Games

You’ll need; Assorted items.

Minute to Win It Games are short, time-pressured challenges that are easy to set up but great fun plus they encourage students to think outside the box and work together to win it in, well, a minute. Here are some quick, easy games designed for the classroom…

12. The Hand Game

You’ll need; Hands.

Students must place their hands in a circle, then put their left hand between the hands of the player next to them. Each player then takes it in turns to tap the ground, however if a pupil double-taps, the order is reversed. The goal is to eliminate other players by surprising them with a sudden change of direction, causing them to ‘miss’ their tap and knocking them out the game.

13. Duct Tape Roll

You’ll need; Fingers and duct tape.

The only way for your students to win this brain teaser is to work together. Ask small groups of no more than 6 to put their fingers in a small circle. Then, balance a roll of duct tape on their fingertips. They then must try and flip the tape without breaking the circle… Easier said than done.