Monday, April 22, 2019

Riddles vs Puzzles

What is the difference between a riddle and a puzzle? 

I was asked this question at a recent workshop and, I have to admit, it did make me stop and think if there really was a difference.  I knew that puzzles were brain teasers, and so too, I thought were riddles. 

And then, I typed the question into to my go-to search engine:  'what is a riddle' (sorry, I did not use punctuation).  As results would have it, the definition was the first thing to show up. :)  I learned that a riddle is a verbal puzzle.  A verbal puzzle is when either a statement/question is made/asked of others and they have to guess the answer.  On the one hand riddles are puzzles.  On the other hand, riddles could be considered a sub-category of puzzles. Guess what new category is on my list of things to add to my ever growing list of puzzles?! :) 

Here are some examples of verbal riddles*: 

l. What goes up the chimney down, but can't go down the chimney up? 
2. If a rooster sits on the top of the roof, on what side does the egg roll down? 
3.  In riddle poem form: 
"As I was going to St. Ives, 
I met a man with 7 wives.
The 7 wives had 7 cats,
The 7 cats had 7 kits. 
How many were going to St. Ives?"

How many times have you seen a child's riddle poem, such as #3 above, illustrated?   I wonder how many kid's books there are that include riddles like this, but we never thought of them like this before?  Must look into that! :) 

Here are some examples of puzzles:

math word search puzzle geometry
Geometry Vocabulary Word
Search Puzzle

crossword puzzle
Math Words Freeform
Crossword Puzzle

extreme sudoku puzzle
Samurai Sudoku Puzzle

Structurally, these three types of puzzles look different. But, they share many characteristics. 

  • These puzzles use some form of logic in order to solve them. 
  • All puzzles use some form of the process of elimination. 
  • They activate problem solving skills. 
  • Puzzles help support both fine motor skill development and visual acuity. 

Next Steps

A next step for us is to explore riddles and create a blog post exclusively dedicated to these types of puzzles.

Next Planned Blog Post

Teaching Ideas Using Puzzles


What are your favorite types of brain teasers to solve? 

~ Riddles? 
~ Puzzles?   

Feel free to respond in the comments section below.

*see next post for answers

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