Puzzles + Games


Check back often. New puzzles coming monthly!
(You’ll find all the answers here.)

Puzzle #15: June 2017

These instructions are quite simple.
1. Can you draw a rectangle using only 3 lines?
2. Now, can you draw 3 rectangles using only 4 lines?

Puzzle #14: May 2017

This may not be a true puzzle
But it may still tax your brain
To try and think of 30 words
That rhyme with puzzle or rain.
(No fair using a rhyming dictionary or rhyme site.)

Puzzle #13: April 2017

Three more riddles given to me by James, Alfred, and Henry when I visited schools in Dallas, Texas. Thanks again!

  1. Johnny had 100 pieces of candy. He ate 90 of them. What does he have now?
  2. What starts with ‘e’ and ends with ‘e’ and has one letter in it?
  3. Brown was killed on Sunday afternoon. His wife said she was reading a book. The butler said her was taking a shower. The chef said he was making breakfast. The maid said she was folding clothes. Who killed Mr. Brown?

Puzzle #12: March 2017

Three riddles given to me by James, Alfred, and Henry when I visited schools in Dallas, Texas. Thanks, you three.

  1. What is hard to get into and even harder to get out of?
  2. What is a 7-letter word that contains thousands of letters.
  3. Smith has four daughters. Each daughter has a brother. How many kids does Mrs. Smith have?

Puzzle #11: February 2017

Let’s play Letter Switch!

In this version of Letter Switch, choose a word . Now, have the first letter and last letter switch places. Do you have a different, real word? If so, you have a True Letter Switch word pair.

For (wrong) example, if you take the word WORD and switch the first and last letters, you’d get DORW, which isn’t a word. Or if you take the word SWITCH and do the same, nope; HWITCS isn’t a word. THAT doesn’t count either, because switching the two letters gives you the same word.

Here’s one that is allowed: if you take the word THUS and swap the T and the S, you’d get SHUT, a word!

In the answer section, I’ll give you my special list. Not only does it contains a 2-letter word pair, a 3-letter word pair, a 4-letter word pair, a 5-letter word pair, and a 6-letter word pair, but no two word pairs begin or end with the same letter. (For example, if I use SHUT/THUS for my 4-letter pair, I cannot use PIT/TIP for my 3-letter pair because I’d reuse the T.)

Can you make a list like that? Or can you find 30 True Letter Switch word pairs? 50? More?

Puzzle #10: January 2017

Hello, 2017!
We ended 2016 with a math puzzle, so let’s start the New Year with one as well.

I just saw an amazing movie, Hidden Figures, about three African American women and their vital contributions to the world, through the U.S. Space Program. The movie starts with one of the characters, as a little girl, thinking about prime numbers. A prime number is a whole number, greater than 1, which can be evenly divided ONLY by 1 and itself. For example 7 is a prime number because it is only (evenly) divisible by 1 and 7; however, 8 is not a prime number because it is evenly divisible by 1, 2, 4, and 8. Because 2017 is a prime number, I’m calling it a Prime-Number Year for this puzzle.

Now the question: How many different years, since the year 1, have been Prime-Number Years so far (including 2017)? How long will it be until the calendar flips to another Prime-Number Year?

P.S. Give yourself a treat. See Hidden Figures.
P.P.S. Back to word puzzles next month.

Puzzle #9: December 2016

Goodbye, 2016! Before you go, though, let’s explore what we might be able to do with your digits.

Using only the plus sign (+) and the minus sign (-) in traditional addition/subtraction ways (1 + 2 – 3, for example), how many different sums can you create if you use the digits 2016 in order?

Puzzle #8: November 2016

Most people buy applesauce in jars. I love to make my own. It takes a while, but it’s really easy. Here’s how I make my applesauce.  Peel 10 apples (I use about four different varieties), cut out the cores and dice into one-inch chunks. Put in large pot. Sprinkle with juice from one lemon. Add about five shakes of salt (yes, salt), three-quarters cup of sugar, and about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir it up as best you can. Put the lid on the pot and simmer over nice, even heat, or until random apple chunks are still visible amidst saucy-looking rest of it. Taste it now, and if you like it sweeter, add more sugar; more cinnamon, too, if you like. Eat some warm. Chill it in the refrigerator and eat some later. Or freeze it even.

Oops! I left out how the cooking time. Or maybe I didn’t. Look closely at the recipe and see if you can find approximately how long it takes the apples to cook down exactly as I like them.

Puzzle #7: October 2016

Three kids: Courtney, Lawrence, and Taylor.
Three costumes: A doctor, King Tut, and a tooth.
Three wishes for Halloween goodies: chocolate, potato chips, bubblegum.

The facts:
The person who wants chocolate did not dress up as a doctor.
Lawrence, who dressed as King Tut, is allergic to cacao.
Courtney, who follows her orthodontist’s warning about sticky stuff breaking her braces, chose her costume for her dream of going to medical school one day.

Can you match who’s dressing up as what and which treat each hopes to fill his or her Halloween goodie bag with?

Puzzle #6: September 2016

Some of you have been back to school for weeks and some of you will start right after Labor Day. Regardless, let’s get your brain limbered up with this. How many words can you make using the letters in SEPTEMBER? A couple of rules: Use the letters only as many times as they appear; and no proper names, please. You have 5 minutes. GO!

Puzzle #5: August 2016

Usain Bolt, considered the world’s fastest man, just won three more gold medals in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. His events: the Men’s 100-Meter Sprint, 200-Meter Sprint, and  4×100-Meter Relay. He may not have broken any world records there, but he holds several including his time for running the 100-Meter. He did that in 9.58 seconds.

Now for the question: If Usain Bolt were, himself, a car driving  through a 20-mile-per-hour school zone in his world-record time, could the police ticket him for speeding?

Click here for the answer.

Puzzle #4: July 2016

Rearrange each set of letters to form a common word. The middle letter of each word, in order, will spell something I saw for the first time with my own eyes this month. Warning: This may not be as easy as it look. Each set of letters can be rearranged to form more than one common word.

A C E H S =   ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

B H R S U =  ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

E M D O S = ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

L A E P M =  ___  ___  ___   ___   ___

U A T B S = ___  ___   ___   ___   ___

D A E T R =   ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

C A E L S =   ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

A E B R K =  ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

S A E T T =   ___  ___  ___  ___   ___

Click here for the answer.

Puzzle #3: June 2016

Find a different number in each of the 7 lines in the little story below. Add all seven unique numbers together, then add the number from line #1 a second time, and your total will also be a key number to another of the words in the story. What is the total? And how does that pertain to one of the words?

From behind the curtain,
at the Essex Piano Box Theater,
came dancers in tutus.
The littlest ran on late,
but Elle Evans was so adorable
and so amazingly wonderful,
the Princess invited her home for tea.

If you don’t want hints, don’t scroll below here.

HINT #1: Say each line out loud, and listen to your voice. It will give you the number.
HINT #2: One line repeats the same number, but use it only once in your addition.

Click here for the answer.

Puzzle #2: May 2016

The essential idea for this puzzle was sent to me from
Claire G., a 7th grader in Virginia. Thanks, Claire!

436 = 122418
982 = 721816
471 = 2847
Then what does this equal?
515 = ?

Once you find the solution to the last equation, use a standard alphabet-substitution cipher to translate the numbers into letters. That’s the answer to the riddle below. (Note: I did not write the riddle, but wish I had. I also wish I know who did.)

Pronounced as one letter and written with three,
Two letters there are when you’re looking at me,
I’m brown, I am green, I am black, blue, and gray,
I’m read from both ends and the same either way.
What am I?

Click here for the answer.

Puzzle #1: April 2016

The words listed below have something in common. What is it?
Can you think of at least three more words which would fit this list?

Click here for the answer.