Have you ever thought of combining subject areas, such as math, with funny riddles? Using riddles for kids (making them show their answers) is one of the best ways to differentiate your content in the classroom.

Even better, students can have their friends, families, or other adults solve their creations. They can be as easy or hard as they like. And eyes will light up when they watch others try to figure out the answer. In fact, even students who don’t normally get invested in many lessons, this one in particular seems to do the trick.

I had an administrator who always did a kid-friendly and clean joke of the day every day over the morning announcements. It was a good way to begin the day with a smile for both kids and adults alike.

In the past we have also given students a brain teaser in the morning and made them think all day. They would then fill out a scrap piece of paper and add it to a bucket as they came up with their answer.

Amazingly, I would get several each day who had come up with the correct answer. I would keep all the correct answers from that day and add them to a prize bucket.

On Friday, I would then choose one at random to get lunch with the teacher, a morning donut, extra computer time, or something else that didn’t cost money to provide.

It’s a great way to promote lateral thinking and get kids excited about learning!

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## Fun Classroom Brain Teasers

Need a few brain stumpers to get the noggins moving? Check out a few fun options, along with the correct answers. {Not sure whether I would have gotten these answers myself – ha!}

- Question: What can you hold in your right hand but not in your left?

*Answer: Your left elbow.*

- Question: What five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

*Answer: short.*

- Question: What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, and has a bed but never sleeps?

*Answer: a river.*

- Question: What kind of tree can you hold in your hand?

*Answer: A palm tree {this one is supposed to be a pun.}*

- Question: What is the one word that is spelled incorrectly in all dictionaries?

*Answer: incorrectly.*

- Question: What type of cheese is made backwards?

*Answer: Edam.*

- Question: What is at the end of a rainbow?

*Answer: The letter W.*

- Question: What can go up a chimney down but can’t go down a chimney up?

*Answer: an umbrella.*

## How can you integrate subject areas and humor together?

I know in my classroom, it was not just the rote memorization which needed adjustment, but rather the concept of multiplication as a whole.

I have found that if students do not understand the basic tenants of multiplication (equal groups of items that are counted in sections, that it is the same as repeated addition, etc.), they tend to have a much tougher time learning the facts they will need throughout their lives.

When I was on the hunt for a different resource, I found this wonderful book that really helped to pound in the idea of how multiplication works while also using literature and writing skills (BONUS!) It is called Math Poetry: Linking Language and Math in a Fresh Way: Grades 2-5: Teacher Resource by Betsy Franco.

In this book, the author uses poetry and templates to teach many math concepts, but multiplication is one that is addressed as well. She includes templates, pictures, and examples of what student work should look like as well, which is always helpful!

One example listed in the book of an actual student poem:

4 feet on a dog

and two more come along

and now all 12 feet

sign a sad song.

~Dulce, grade 3

And another listed:

8 legs on a spider,

another one comes by.

Night to midnight,

3 spider robbers come.

Now all the spiders together

have 40 legs.

~Inez, grade 3

At first, I realized I had to think about these poems, but when I saw the accompanying student illustrations I then noticed that the students had some two-step processes and had actually made it more complex than I had assumed it would be.

There is also an included rubric just for the multiplication poem section, which is fantastic and keeps you from having to create your own. Multiplication Mathematickles (riddles) are also mentioned in the book.

Other topics in the book that utilize teaching with poetry include:

- Number Sense Poems
- Shape Riddles
- Addition Poems
- Subtraction Poems
- Estimation Poems
- Money Blues Poems
- Measurement Poems
- Division Odes
- Fraction Poems
- Free-form Math Poems
- Addition and Subtraction Mathematickles
- Multiplication Mathematickles
- Multiplication Tables Mathematickles
- Simple Division and Inverse Operations Mathematickles
- Long Division Mathematickles
- Fractions and Geometry Mathematickles
- Graphing Mathematickles
- Algebra Mathematickles: The Properties
- Algebra Mathematickles: The Unknown

This book has been a great resource for teaching using an alternative curriculum model and assessment technique.

It might not resonate with all students, but as a teacher, you are always differentiating the instruction for different learning styles anyway. This would particular work well for your linguistic intelligent children.

Plus, maybe you have a budding poet and you didn’t even know it? Have fun and feel free to post some of your poems in the comments below!

~Charity

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