One of the great challenges we have as educators is to help kids think outside the box…to think creatively. Critical thinking does not come naturally for most people, but it can be learned. Many kids and even adults get stuck with linear thinking and if it does not fit into the mold of how they think it should work, then in their mind it won’t work.
This is why I love riddles and kids love them too. It makes us think beyond the obvious and dig for clues as to how it could work. The Nine Dot Riddle is great for this purpose. You have to draw four straight lines without ever lifting your pencil and cross every dot. You literally have to think outside the box to do it.
I showed my kids at school the one below just to see if they could figure it out:
What has four letters
Never has five letters
And sometimes has nine letters
I am not going to tell you the answer. You have to figure it out!
I was pleasantly surprised that many kids figured this out themselves, and they are in 3rd grade! Sometimes I wonder if I am smarter than a 3rd grader. LOL. These kids are not gifted and talented for the most part. There might be one or two in the class of 27 that fit into that category, and they DID get the answer first, but the rest are average or below average students and many of them got in on their own fairly quickly.
If you have not used riddles in your class to help kids develop critical thinking skills, try it. It works extremely well and the kids LOVE them. They were asking me if I knew anymore when they got this one right. I use riddles as a reward if they get their assignments done and everyone stays on task. There is a great sense of accomplishment that goes with figuring out something on your own, particularly if it is not readily apparent. You can have them work individually or in pairs…or even in small groups if it is a challenging riddle.
Feel free to use this forum for exchanging riddle ideas…as long as they are appropriate for kids.