There are lots of ways to stretch student thinking and get them talking to each other about ideas. One fun way is through riddles that require inductive reasoning, critical thinking and hopefully some good collaboration around student ideas. The three brain teasers below created by TED-Ed have fun visuals and include an explanation at the end. All the videos also include lesson plan ideas to deepen the conversation and start discussion.

In this first video about prisoners’ hats the problem set-up ends at 1:35, so stop the video there if you want kids to work on the problem before learning how to solve it.

In this zombie bridge problem the set-up ends at 2:00.

The riddle of the 100 green-eyed logicians ends at 1:53.

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Three Brain Teasers to Spur Logical Thinking and Collaboration 12 May,2016Katrina Schwartz

  • AMM

    I tried these with my Grade 5 class yesterday. They worked collaboratively and really enjoyed the tasks. It was interesting to watch them work and work through the complexity of the problems. Thank you!

  • Justin Knowles

    isn’t the solution to the prisoner’s problem more complicated than it needs to be? couldn’t each prisoner simply say the color of the hat in front of them, transmitting that down the line making the only unknown still the tallest prisoner?

    • Brad

      No, because then they would not always be guessing the correct color of their own hat. Imagine I have a black hat on and the person in front of me has a white hat on. If I guess white, then my answer is incorrect for my own hat.

  • Peter


    I absolutely love these mind puzzles for students to work through, especially as the school year is ending! Do you think that we could work together to create a Classkick Assignment featuring the three puzzles and giving students the opportunity to collaborate and track their answers?

    Please reach out to me at so we can connect.


    Laura Litton
    Director of Teacher Happiness

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Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She’s worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She’s a staff writer for KQED’s education blog MindShift.

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