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31 Brain Teasers to Use in Your Library Lesson Plans This January!

brain teasers
The brain! The most important organ for it powers the human body. From controlling actions and reactions to allowing us to think, feel, and remember. Taking Descartes quote literally “I think therefore I am.” Our thoughts create our humanity and its cognitive capability is what sets us apart from other species. And just like any muscle in our body, we need to exercise our brain power regularly.

International Brain Teaser Month

January is International Brain Teaser Month. Like who doesn’t love a good riddle?! Brain teasers are a fantastic way to engage anyone and everyone of all ages for they keep your mind sharp and focused.

Brain teasers are puzzles, riddles, math problems, situations and more that require thought to solve. Often, brain teasers can be unconventional in ways and can have the simplest of answers. Other times brain teasers can stump the thinker, and require lateral thinking.

Fun Fact: The earliest known brain teaser enthusiast was Archimedes, a Greek mathematician. He would create math problems for his peers to solve. He was also the first mathematician to derive an accurate approximation of pi.


31 Brain Teasers and Riddles

Check out these brain teasers and riddles you can use within your library lesson plans throughout the month!

Poem Riddles

1| He Who...
He who builds me doesn't want me,
He who buys me doesn't use me,
He that uses me doesn't know he's got me.
Click for Answer
2| What are they?
In the dark they are found without being fetched, in the light they are lost without being stolen.
Click for Answer
3| When I'm...
When I'm young I'm tall
When I'm old I'm short
When I'm alive I glow
Because of your breath I die
Click for Answer
A Candle
4| Here but not there
I'm in you,
But not in him, I go up,
But not down,
I'm in the Colosseum,
But not a tower,
I'm in a puzzle,
But not a riddle.
Click for Answer
The letter U

Riddles from Literature

5| Emma by Jane Austen
“My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,
Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.
Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!”
Click for Answer
6| Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
“First think of the person who lives in disguise,
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies,
Next tell me what’s always the last thing to mend,
The middle of middle and end of the end?
And finally give me the sound often heard,
During the search for a hard-to-find word.
Now string them together, and answer me this,
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?”
Click for Answer
7| The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"This thing all things devours;
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers,
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
and beats mountain down."
Click for Answer

Story Brain Teasers

8| A Fox, A Sheep, And A Stack Of Hay
A farmer is traveling with a fox, a sheep and a small sack of hay. He comes to a river with a small boat in it. The boat can only support the farmer and one other animal/item. If the farmer leaves the fox alone with the sheep, the fox will eat the sheep. And if the farmer leaves the sheep alone with the hay, the sheep will eat the hay.

How can the farmer get all three as well as himself safely across the river?
Click for Answer
1.The farmer takes the sheep across the river, then returns back.
2.The farmer takes the fox across the river.
3.The farmer takes the sheep back to the first side of the river.
4.The farmer leaves the sheep back on the first side of the river and takes the hay to the other side.
5.The farmer returns to the first side of the river.
6.The farmer brings the sheep back to the second side.
9| Three Light Switches
There are 3 switches outside of a room, all in the ‘off’ setting. One of them controls a light bulb inside the room, the other two do nothing.

You cannot see into the room, and once you open the door to the room, you cannot flip any of the switches anymore.

Before going into the room, how would you flip the switches in order to be able to tell which switch controls the light bulb?
Click for Answer
Flip the first switch and keep it flipped for five minutes. Then unflip it, and flip the second switch. Go into the room. If the light bulb is off but warm, the first switch controls it. If the light is on, the second switch controls it. If the light is off and cool, the third switch controls it.

Brain Teasers for Kids

10| What has hands but cannot clap?
Click for Answer
11| What has ears but can't hear?
Click for Answer
12| You walk into a room with a match, a kerosene lamp, a candle, and a fireplace. Which do you light first?
Click for Answer
A Match
13| What goes up and down but doesn't move?
Click for Answer
14| I am full of keys but can't open doors. What am I?
Click for Answer
15| What has teeth but can't bite?
Click for Answer
A Comb
16| What is yours to own, yet others use it more?
Click for Answer
Your name
17| Two mothers and two daughters went out to eat, everyone ate one burger, yet only three burgers were eaten. How is this possible?
Click for Answer
They were a grandmother, mother, and a daughter
18| I am hard all around but soft in the middle. What am I?
Click for Answer
19| A cowboy rides into town on Friday, Stays for three days, then leaves on Friday. How did he do it?
Click for Answer
His horse's name is Friday
20| Beth's mother has three daughters. One is called Lara, the other Sara. What is the name of the third daughter?
Click for Answer
21| What can you catch but never throw?
Click for Answer
A Cold
22| What is always coming but never arrives?
Click for Answer
23| What starts with the letter "t", is filled with "t" and ends in "t"?
Click for Answer
24| What has wings and can fly but is not living?
Click for Answer
A Plane
25| You are running a street marathon and you overtake the person in 2nd place. What place are you in now?
Click for Answer
Second place
26| What runs, but never walks, often murmurs - never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats.
Click for Answer
A river

Advanced Brain Teasers

27| The more there is, the less you see. What am I?
Click for Answer
28| What disappears the moment you say its name?
Click for Answer
29| If you have it and you show it to other people, I am gone. What is it?
Click for Answer
30| What falls but never breaks? What breaks, but never falls?
Click for Answer
Day and Night
31| What are we?
We hurt without moving.
We poison without touching.

We bear the truth and the lies.
We are not to be judged by our size.
Click for Answer
Do you really want a challenge? Try and solve Einstein's Riddle!

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