Batman fans of all ages will know the sinister villain that spoke these words, "Riddle me this..." But, let's not be villains - what do you say? Recently I observed a colleague telling her group some funny jokes while they were all waiting for some members to return from a break. Loved it! This reminded me that I use to apply this management technique using riddles.
Now, if you know me, even a little bit, I like to squeeze educational moments out of almost anything I do. So, when I use riddles I present the ones that have a "mental model" shift (including at least one word with multiple meanings), or ones I can ask questions about after the solution is discovered. I personally call these ponderables "Plus" riddles. For Example here's one to talk about from kidspot.com.au:
What is something everyone has that goes up and never comes down?
After sharing a riddle I always encourage my groups to ask me questions I can answer with a "Yes" or a "No". I discourage simply shouting out random guesses. Then, if someone truly believes he or she has a viable answer they can raise a hand and I will walk over to them so they can whisper their answer into my ear. If it is correct they are now part of the "answer" team. This answer team can help answer questions (Yes or No) and can also take whispered answers from people near them. In this way more people have the opportunity to figure out the answer for themselves before it is revealed. I like to play until about half of the players have guessed correctly, then someone from the answer team will share the solution before we move on (to a little discussion, another riddle or activity).
Oh, back to the "something everyone has" riddle. Of course the answer is, "your age". After this is shared I like to ask, "If you could be any age, what would it be? Why is this the best age for you?" Or, "What has been your favorite age so far and why?" These are just simple easy-to-answer questions to help us get to know each other a little bit more. We have a quick shout out from those who want to share and then we move on. Here's another favorite of mine from the same website:
What belongs to you but is used more by others?
The answer is "your name". After half of my group has guessed the answer I like to play a little game called, The Story of Your Name (found in Jim Cain's book, Find Something To Do!). I ask if anyone would like to share the story behind their name - if they have one. I have found this to be an amazing experience with groups. Names are so powerful, no matter if there is a story behind them or not - and I like to emphasize this point with my participants. AND, I do my best to always learn the names of my group members - along with their understanding if I ask for help while I'm learning (makes me human after all). Cool story, for me anyway. I met someone named ILY - pronounces "eye-lee." Her story? It's an acronym from her parents - I Love You! How cool is that?
Here's a link to a (tight) page of 47 riddles (and answers at the bottom of the page) you can print them out for transport, or bookmark them on your computer or mobile device for easy access. I can see some "Plus" benefits out of numbers, 7, 9, 10, 15, 16, 20, 22, 32, 33, 40, 45, 47. (And, just as riddles go, my favorite one of the set is number 21.)
Below is a PDF document of my Top 10 Plus Riddles. You will find a number of "mental model" riddles in this set. Print them out for easy transport, or save them to your computer or mobile device for easy access.
What's your favorite riddle? Share with us in the comments below.
Have FUN out there.
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.