Lateral Thinking Puzzles

Thinking in straight lines isn’t good for us because we only see forwards and backwards.

Thinking is far more chaotic than that. We need to see round corners, go off-piste and look under carpets. In short, we’ve got to think like a ninja.

Lateral thinking puzzles, trick questions and riddles are fuel for fabulous thinking and should be inserted into your teaching schedule on a daily basis.

Here are a selection of my favourites along with their answers:

  • Your friend is standing behind you, and yet you are not standing in front of her. How can this be?

You are standing back to back.

  • You go in through one hole but you come out through three. When you are inside you are ready to go outside but once you are outside you are still inside. What am I talking about?

Putting on a jumper.

  • What starts with an E, ends in an E but contains just one letter?

An envelope

  • Take an eight-letter word, add a letter to it, and it stays the same. What is the word?

An envelope! 

  • What word of just three syllables contains over twenty letters?

The alphabet.

  • What comes after e in the alphabet?

The letter t.

  • What side of a chicken has the most feathers?

The outside.

  • What can you put in an empty barrel to make it weigh less?

A hole. 

  • What was the problem with the wooden car with the wooden wheels and a wooden engine?

It wooden go!

  • How do you divide 11 potatoes evenly among four children?

Make mashed potato.

  • What do you always get hanging from an apple tree?

A sore arm.

  • In what sport do all the players move backwards?

Tug of war.

  • What five things come after you?

V,W,X,Y and Z

  • Rearrange these letters to make one word: NEW DOOR

One word.

  • What gets larger the more you take away?

A hole.  

  • What five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it.


  • What can move and be still at the same time?


  • Some children got into trouble because of a dog which was very well trained and very well behaved. What happened?

A police officer brought a police dog into a secondary school and the dog had been trained to detect drugs and correctly identified some children carrying cannabis.   

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