Get your synapses firing with these puzzle games to help keep your brain connections healthy, strong and growing!
Time: 5 – 30 minutes
Topics: puzzles, games, math, logic, language
What you need:
- Pen or pencil
What to do:
1. Examples of three different types of brain puzzles are given below: rebus puzzles, rhyming words, and magic squares. See how many of the puzzles you can solve. As you work on them, think or talk about these questions:
- What do you think makes the puzzle tricky for your brain?
- How did you have to stretch your brain, or think differently, to figure it out?
- What different strategies did you use to try to solve it?
2. Once you have the hang of these kinds of brainteasers, stretch your brain even more by creating some examples of your own! How is making a brain puzzle different from solving it? What different strategies or ways of thinking did you use? Share your puzzle with a friend or family member and see if they can solve it.
3. Look in books or on websites for other examples of rebus puzzles or other brainteasers and puzzles to try. Which kinds of brain puzzles do you like the best? What do you like about them?
Brain Rhyme Time
The answers to each of the next questions rhyme with the word “brain.” For example, for the question, “What do you call a brain on the tracks?” the answer is Brain Train. There could be more than one correct answer.
What do you call...
- A brain in a storm?
- Brains that are linked?
- A spot made by a brain?
- A brain blood vessel?
- A brain that hurts?
- A fake brain?
- The most important brain?
- A brain that gets more?
- A conceited brain?
- A brain from a northeastern state?
- A logical brain?
- A regular brain?
- A brain’s aid for walking?
- A brain that rules?
- A Scandinavian brain?
- A brain from a western European country?
- A brain used for bread?
- A brain when injured?
- A brain used to pick things up:
- A brain that’s still here?
- Where a brain lives?
- A brain that holds back:
- An overworked brain?
- A brain when grumbling?
- A brain that flies?
Rebus puzzles are pictures that represent common words or phrases. Here are a few hints about how these puzzles are coded. Think about things like:
- the position of the word within the square (above, below, in front of)
- the size of the word or picture (big, small)
- the number of times a word is written (two, four, eight)
- the direction the word is written (up, down, across, back)
- the font style (thick, thin, pretty)
Magic Square Puzzles
One of Ben Franklin’s favorite types of puzzles is called a Magic Square. It’s all about number theory. The goal of the puzzle is to arrange the numbers so they add up to the same number vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. One place to start is to think about what number should go in the middle of the squares. A hint for these puzzles is to think about balancing big numbers and small numbers.
In this magic square, arrange the numbers 1-9 so they add up to 15 vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
In this magic square, arrange the numbers 1 – 16 so they add up to 34 vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
Your brain is an extremely complex, constantly changing web of connections (called synapses) between brain cells. When you have a new experience or learn something, new connections are created between different areas of your brain. Connections that are used over and over get stronger and faster, and connections that aren’t used can fade away. Puzzles like these that challenge you to think in new and different ways help to build new connections in your brain—and the more often you use those thinking skills, the stronger the connections get!
Brain Rhyme Time:
- In a storm: Brain Rain
- Made a spot: Brain Stain
- When it hurts: Brain Pain
- Most important: Main Brain
- Most conceited: Vain Brain
- Most logical: Sane Brain
- An aid for walking: Brain Cane
- A Scandinavian: Dane Brain
- Used for bread: Brain Grain
- Used to pick things up: Brain Crane
- Where it lives: Brain Lane
- Overworked: Brain Strain
- It flies: Brain Plane
- It is linked: Brain Chain
- A blood vessel: Brain Vein
- A fake: Brain Feign
- Get more: Brain Gain
- A northeastern state: Maine Brain
- Just regular: Plain Brain
- It rules: Brain Reign
- Western European country: Spain Brain
- When injured: Brain Sprain
- It’s still here: Brain Remain
- Hold back: Restrain Brain
- When grumbling: Brain Complain