Consider these 9 reasons why brain teaser puzzles should have a place in your classroom as you make plans for your school year!
Why are puzzles so popular? The industry in general is huge and constantly growing as more types of puzzles emerge.
Why is that?
What makes puzzles so much fun?
For many, it’s the challenge. For others, puzzles are relaxing. Yet, for others, puzzles are a way of staying sharp and focused in a world of distraction.
Whatever your reason, puzzles have proven themselves time and time again to be valuable.
Puzzles have also taken on different looks.
The term ‘puzzle’ according to my Google Dictionary is ‘a game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge.’ So although some readers may only think of puzzles as something that comes in 12, 100, or even 1000 pieces, the term puzzle actually refers to those as well as any other game or problem that causes people to test their knowledge or solve a problem.
And that is exactly why puzzles are perfect for the classroom.
A Class of Solution Finders
In a space where we want students to be problem-solvers and to seek answers to questions, students will need ongoing practice exercising that puzzle-solving muscle. They need to learn to look at all the ways a problem can be solved as opposed to just trying to find the ‘right’ answer.
Let’s consider an example.
If you use a typical 100 piece puzzle in the classroom, students are all going to have their own way to complete the puzzle. Some will start by sorting the pieces by color, others will separate the edge pieces from the center ones, other students will sort the pieces by shape, and still others will spend some time looking at the box and choosing the most dominant part of the image to begin with.
None of these systems are right and none of them are wrong, but all of these different methods will present both possible solutions and eventually maybe even some additional problems.
Another style of puzzle that works well in the classroom is using brain teasers.
Brain teaser puzzles like the ones in this Puzzle of the Day bundle, give students opportunities to think through complex problems, and a lot of people find that to be really fun. That is why teachers have told me they like to assign these puzzles because they enjoy solving the problems almost as much as their students do.
But if you aren’t convinced of the importance of puzzles already, I’ve done some research, and I’ve come up with 9 reasons you should be using brainteasers and other puzzles in your classroom this year.
9 Reasons to Use Brain Teaser Puzzles
#1 | Stimulate the brain
The brain is a muscle that needs a good workout. What better way to workout the brain than through solving problems and riddles!
#2 | Improve concentration/focus
Many riddles and puzzles require the person solving them to really focus in on small details and focus on individual pieces in an effort to find a solution to the whole. This directly connects to the concept of visual discrimination that we’ll talk about later, but it is also about staying focused for a duration of time.
Puzzles, unlike other assignments, challenge the students to stay with the problem until they have found a solution. That is often enough to keep the student’s interest piqued for a longer period of time than a worksheet reviewing common educational skills.
#3 | Aid in memory
Often, a student will have to call upon strategies or knowledge they used before to solve a new problem. This might look like a student recalling information about the building of the pyramids to solve a riddle in an escape room, or it may be that they need to recall their multiplication tables to solve a puzzle.
#4 | Improved ability to follow directions
Solving many types of puzzles requires that a series of steps be followed, as the student travels toward the solution. For example, solving a Rubik’s Cube is all about following a specific series of steps in the right order to eventually achieve success. The same is true for many types of brainteaser puzzles.
#5 | Increase curiosity
Often in an effort to solve a problem, students start asking more questions. This is ideal! We want our students to be inquisitive and thoughtful. As you work with brain teaser puzzles in your class, encourage students to not only ask, but to seek out new questions to answer!
#6 | Aid in visual discrimination
Visual discrimination is the ability to detect differences in shapes, objects, and other items or images.
If you’ve ever watched a young child sort a series of items, you may notice that although they can tell that items are the same color, they can’t always distinguish the small differences (like the differences between a hexagon and octagon). Puzzles often ask students to pay attention to these differences, and with practice, students start to notice the more subtle differences on their own.
#7 | Enhance creative thinking abilities (i.e. thinking outside the box)
A puzzle often comes with many solutions, and in an ever-changing world like ours, this ability to think outside the box and come up with interesting solutions is a true gift! This world needs new solutions to old problems, so let’s train our students to be able to contribute to that society!
#8 | Improve lateral thinking
Lateral thinking is ‘the solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light’ according to my friend Google Dictionary. It is not hard to make the connection between puzzles and lateral thinking and thus the impact on learning. As students encounter problems and puzzles, they are usually not given a specific formula or method for solving the puzzle and that is where they can start thinking through the problem and seeking out creative solutions.
#9 | Practice perseverance
Perseverance may be one of the most important skills we can teach students, and it really is a learned skill. It is easy to keep going when things are easy for us, but its when the process becomes tough or takes longer than we think it should that perseverance is necessary.
Helping kids understand that it’s okay to take a little longer to solve a problem or learn a new concept is necessary in education, and if brain teaser puzzles can help teach that skill, then they should definitely have a place in our classroom daily! Here is another post I did on perseverance if you’re interested in considering this important skill in more depth.
If puzzles and brain teasers aren’t a typical part of your educational day yet, then hopefully you’ll consider all of these advantages and start finding ways to sneak some problem-solving puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers into the classroom on a daily basis.
If you are ready to embark on this journey and want an easy way to start, then make sure to get this Puzzle of the Day bundle. Within this bundle is a brain teaser puzzle for every school day of the year. The puzzles are themed to each month and every day is different than the other ones for that month!