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How to Create Your Own Brainteasers

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 1/11/16 3:00 AM
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Everyone loves a good brainteaser! They are very versatile, can be used strategically throughout your training, and should be part of every instructor’s instructional techniques toolbox.


Using a brainteaser at the beginning of your course gives participants a chance to get to know one another and work on something that is fun.


Using them when you do a table group change offers an opportunity for learners to work together, paving the way for successful small group activities throughout the rest of the course. I also like to use brainteasers right after a break. They give everyone enough time to return to their seats and provide a little fun for the transition from “break” mode to “learning” mode.


You want the puzzles to be a bit challenging, but solvable in a short period of time. Over the years I’ve learned that you can easily create your own brainteasers using a little imagination. This saves you time searching for new puzzles.


Here are five of my favorite ideas for brainteasers. Feel free to share them and add them to your supply of instructional techniques tools!

  1. Look for vanity license plates (that are appropriate, of course!) and have learners decipher the message.
  2. Scramble several words that have something in common (e.g. cars or cities) and write them on a flipchart. Ask learners what the words have in common.
  3. Take a series of numbers and put them together to create a pattern. Remove one number from the sequence and ask your class to tell you the missing number.
  4. Pick a few well-known candy bars, list short phrases about them on a flipchart, and ask participants to tell you what candy bars the phrases are describing.
  5. Pick a well-known celebrity or sports figure. On a flipchart, list key words that represent that person. Ask your learners to identify the celebrity.


These five ideas are a great start to your brainteaser collection. Continue adding to your collection and you’ll have a stockpile to choose from! Are brainteasers a staple in your instructional techniques kit? What brainteaser ideas can you share with your fellow trainers?

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Hello, I’m Lynne Koltookian, a native New Englander. I have lived here all my life and am now the Boston-based instructor for Langevin Learning Services. I started working for Langevin in March of 2007 after working more than twenty years for corporations in eastern Massachusetts.

Topics: instructional techniques, icebreakers

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