These brain teasers will appeal to all children and stretch the more able pupils in your class
(Are you stuck? The answers are at the bottom of the blog!)
- Two mothers and two daughters were quilting in the living room. They all quilted busily all day, and discussed memories they had shared with each other. Each one completed a quilt. However, at the end of the day there were only three completed quilts. How is this possible?
- A man was sitting at home watching the news. All of a sudden, he stood up, switched on the light, and began to sob uncontrollably. Why did the man switch on the light and begin to cry? Ask as many questions as you would like, but the teacher can only answer yes or no.
- Two Australians got on a bus. One of the Australians was the father of the other Australian’s son. How was this possible?
- Robert and William Parry were both born just before noon on 7th May 2001. They had the same parents, Andrew and Diana Parry. You see Robert and William in the nursery and say to Diana, “Your twins are lovely!’ Diana looks at you and replies, “They are not twins!” You are very confused. They were born on exactly the same day with the same parents! How is this possible?
- Two men walk into a restaurant. They both order exactly the same drink. One man drinks it fast and one man drinks it slowly. The one who drinks it fast lives. The one who drinks it slowly dies. WHY?
These brainteasers have been taken from Brilliant Activities for Gifted and Talented Children by Ashley McCabe Mowat, which contains tasks that will develop all children’s cognitive abilities, whilst stretching the most able pupils in you class.
- They were a grandmother, mother and a daughter.
- The man is a lighthouse keeper, and he saw on the news that a ship is headed for his point but can see no light. It is inevitable that the ship will crash, which is the man’s fault.
- One was the mother.
- They are not twins, but triplets!
- There was poison in the ice.
- Find out what they know before you teach them. This will prevent reteaching what a pupil already knows.
- Remove drill from their lives. Bright pupils learn and retain a concept the first time it is presented to them. Allow them to move on to something else while you consolidate concepts with the rest of the class.
- Pace instruction at the rate of the learner. Pupils progress at different rates. Allow them to progress at their own rate.
- Use discovery learning techniques. Use Inductive Learning strategies to allow pupils to use thinking skills to reach conclusions.
- Allow them to arrive at answers in their own way. Bright pupils enjoy devising their own problem-solving techniques.
- Allow pupils to form their own cooperative learning groups. Avoid always making the brightest pupil in the group responsible for the whole group’s learning. Allow them to sometimes choose their own groups and work with other bright, motivated pupils.
- Design an individual education plan. This will cater to different learning rates.
- Teach them the art of argument. Since bright pupils have a tendency to argue anyway, teach them to understand when it is appropriate to argue and also to understand when it is appropriate to argue and also to understand the reaction of others to their argumentativeness.
- Allow pupils to observe. Provide pupils with opportunities to observe and don’t demand immediate answers.
- Be flexible in designing programmes. Provide your pupils with a variety of programme alternatives, such as independent study, special classes mentoring and enrichment and extension activities.
Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 9-11 Year Olds
Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 7-9 Year Olds
Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 5-7 Year Olds
These ideas have been taken from Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, published by Brilliant Publications. The series includes activities, teaching notes and photocopiable worksheets on a variety of classroom strategies. The activities included are designed to enrich and extend the thinking strategies of the entire class, with in-built opportunities to challenge the skills of the highest achievers.
A study carried out in the United States has shown that already by the age of 6 girls lose faith in their own abilities and see themselves as less talented than boys. The study showed that when children believed that hard work was the key to success both girls and boys were successful.
So what can schools do to encourage girls to believe that they will be successful?
One way is through promoting creative thinking. By asking questions where there are no correct answers and any input is valued, girls’ (and all children’s) confidence and self-esteem will increase.
The new curriculum places increased emphasis on grammar, punctuation and spelling. But how can you make learning these concepts fun? Rekindle your pupils enthusiasm for language by encouraging them to play with words to extend vocabulary, improve spelling and develop language skills. Try these activities:
Yesterday at the dinner table my Year 10 daughter asked, ‘Why does hair turn grey?’ This question had come up in her science class and my daughter felt it was wrong that her teacher hadn’t known the answer.
This provoked an interesting discussion on what teachers should know, what pupils needed to learn and what the purpose of education was. Given that the world is changing so rapidly, what is fact today, might not be fact in 20 years time. Therefore teaching just facts doesn’t prepare you for the future.
While pupils do need to learn some facts, it is equally important for them to learn to think and to find out for themselves – so that they want to become lifelong learners. My father was particularly good at modelling this skill when I was a child. We had a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica sitting on the sideboard in the dining room, and it was a rare dinner table conversation when we didn’t pull at least one volume off the shelf.
So, how can we encourage pupils to learn to think creatively? As this is a pet subject of mine, Brilliant Publications has published lots of books on this subject. As an experiment, I tried typing ‘creative’ into the search book on our website (www.brilliantpublications.co.uk). I was pleased to see that 44 books came up. I then tried ‘thinking’ and got 30 titles. Why don’t you have a go typing in your own keywords and see what you come up with!
A few of my particular favourites are: Stimulate Creative Thinking, CRAMES – Creative Games to Help Children Learn to Think and Creative Homework Tasks.
Incidently, the reason hair turns grey is, as we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent color — like grey, silver, or white — as it grows.
It’s often said that the successful adults of tomorrow will be adept at thinking outside of the box. Why?
The need to ensure that all children constantly progress and reach their potential, and over time expand that potential, has always been fundamental to education. The aim is not only to take the gifted and talented pupils and help them make the most of their talent, but also to release the potential in others.
The only issue remains: what is the most effective way of achieving this?