Trick questions (brain teasers, puzzles, or riddles) are great for warm-ups, cool-downs, or turn-and-talks in the classroom. They encourage students to think creatively and explain their thinking. Trick questions also encourage students to bring all their knowledge, even silly facts they know, to the solution.
While teaching trick questions, encourage students to:
- Slow down and think through what the question is asking and how to answer it.
- Use their background knowledge. A lot of trick questions require knowledge about something—geography, days of the week, math—to answer. Encourage students to think about what they already know about a topic to try to figure out the answer.
- Practice vocabulary. Trick questions often depend on knowing what words mean and how they can mean multiple things. Help students define words in questions and how they influence each answer.
- Listen and pay attention to the details and what’s being asked, literally and figuratively.
- Think about what inferences they can make in the question. What is the question not asking them? Or what information is implied in the question?
- Think creatively and think about the question or problem from multiple perspectives.
Here are 150 trick questions for do-nows, turn-and-talks, and more, starting with “easy” trick questions (and answers) and graduating to “the hardest” trick questions.
Easy Trick Questions
What are two things you can never eat for breakfast?
Lunch and dinner.
What is always coming but never arrives?
What gets wetter the more it dries?
What word is spelled incorrectly in every single dictionary?
How many wings does a flea have?
None. Fleas don’t have wings.
What goes up but never ever comes down?
What can one catch that is not thrown?
If you have one, you want to share it. But once you share it, you do not have it. What is it?
What starts with “e” and ends with “e” but only has one letter in it?
What two keys can’t open any door?
A monkey and a donkey.
Which U.S. president is on the $100 bill?
None. Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill and he wasn’t a president.
What will you always find at the end of a rainbow?
The letter “w.”
What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs?
What can run but not walk?
Thanks to me, you can see straight through the wall. What am I?
Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?
Neither. They both weigh exactly one pound.
Uncle Bill’s farm had a terrible storm and all but seven sheep were killed. How many sheep are still alive?
How can the pocket of your pants be empty but still have something in it?
When the something is a hole.
What has a thumb and four fingers but isn’t actually alive?
What has a head and a tail but does not have a body?
I am an odd number. Take away one letter and I become even. What number am I?
Seven. Take away the “s” and it becomes “even.”
What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?
What gets sharper the more you use it?
What’s full of holes but can still hold liquid?
When combined, what two words have the most letters?
What can travel around the world while staying in place?
What has one foot, one head, and four legs?
How many letters are in the alphabet?
Eleven. T-h-e a-l-p-h-a-b-e-t.
If two’s company and three’s a crowd, what do four and five make?
If you were running a race and passed the person in second place, what place would you be in now?
She has married many men but has never been married. Who is she?
Spell enemy in three letters.
I’m where yesterday follows today, and tomorrow is in the middle. What am I?
Where can you add 2 to 11 and get 1?
How many animals did Moses take onto the ark?
None. It was Noah who built and loaded the ark.
What has three feet but can’t walk?
Name four days of the week that start with the letter “T.”
Tuesday, Thursday, today, and tomorrow.
Which room has no walls?
What has four eyes but can’t see?
When is a door not a door?
When it’s ajar.
What word starts with IS, ends with AND, and has LA in the middle?
What has a neck but no head?
What is the coldest country in the world?
What moves faster, heat or cold?
Heat, because you can always catch cold.
Forward I’m heavy but backward I’m not. What am I?
What has many keys but can’t open a door?
What type of dress can never be worn?
What has one eye but cannot see?
What never asks a question but gets answered all the time?
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Hard Trick Questions
What cannot be held in your hand but can be broken?
What lives if it is fed but dies if you give it a drink?
What word would you use to describe a man who does not have all his fingers on one hand?
Normal, because people normally only have half their fingers on one hand.
I start out tall, but the longer I stand, the shorter I grow. What am I?
Acting on an anonymous tip, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer. They don’t know what he looks like, but they know his name is John. The police burst in on a carpenter, a cab driver, a mechanic, and a firefighter, all playing poker. Without hesitating, they immediately arrest the firefighter. How do they know they’ve got their man?
The firefighter is the only man in the room. The rest of the poker players are women.
What one letter of the alphabet doesn’t appear in any U.S. state name?
The letter “q.”
How many seconds are there in a year?
Twelve. January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, etc.
What breaks and never falls, and what falls and never breaks?
Day breaks and night falls.
Some months have 31 days, others have 30 days, but how many have 28 days?
What goes up and down but always remains in the same place?
Everyone in the world needs it, but they usually give it without taking it. What is it?
Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday?
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
What can you make that no one—not even you—can see?
Why are 1968 pennies worth more than 1967 pennies?
Because there is one more penny in 1968 pennies than in 1967 pennies.
What belongs to you but gets used by everyone else more than you?
Eight men are sitting on a couch. Three legs break and six men leave. How many legs are remaining?
Five; the legs of the two remaining men and the remaining couch leg.
What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years?
The letter “m.”
What is the maximum number of times a single page of a newspaper can be folded in half by hand?
I’m so fragile that if you say my name, you’ll break me. What am I?
If a rooster lays an egg on top of the barn roof, which way will it roll?
Roosters don’t lay eggs.
Which button cannot be unbuttoned?
A belly button.
What is often on the ground but is never dirty or soiled?
What building has more stories than any other building in the entire world?
It is weightless, and you can see it. If you put it in a bucket, it will make the bucket lighter. What is it?
Where can you find cities, towns, shops, and streets but no people?
What was before was was was?
What peels like an onion but remains whole?
A snake or lizard.
When is it bad luck to meet a white cat?
When you’re a mouse.
MT_TF_S What are the missing letters? Why?
W and S for the days of the week.
What do pandas have that no other animal has?
I run around the city, but I never move. What am I?
How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor and not crack it?
Concrete floors are very hard to crack.
If a monkey, a squirrel, and a bird are racing to the coconut tree, who will get the banana first?
Coconut trees don’t grow bananas.
I have teeth but I can’t eat, what am I?
Ten birds are sitting in a tree. A hunter shoots one. How many birds are left in the tree?
None. All the birds flew away.
I love to dance, shake my tail, and fly in the sky. What am I?
I am always in the past, I can be created in the present, but the future will never taint me. What am I?
I have a thousand wheels but do not move. What am I?
A parking lot.
What English word keeps its pronunciation even when you take away four of its five letters?
People buy me to eat but never eat me. What am I?
Who always goes to bed with their shoes on?
He has one. A person has two. A citizen has three. A human being has four. A personality has five. An inhabitant of the Earth has six. What am I?
Check out: Math brain teasers to puzzle even your smartest students.
Harder Trick Questions
How far can a dog run into the woods?
Only halfway. After that, he’s running out of the woods.
A girl fell off a 50-foot ladder but didn’t get hurt. Why?
She fell off the bottom step.
In which country would the survivors be buried if a plane crashed on the border between the United States and Canada?
Survivors wouldn’t be buried because they’re still alive!
How can a girl go 25 days without sleep?
She sleeps at night.
If it takes eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long will it take four men?
No time because the wall is already built.
I was 10 years old the day before yesterday. Next year, I will be 13 years old. How is that possible?
I am making this statement on January 1 and my birthday is on December 31.
If you have a bowl with six apples and you take away four, how many do you have?
The four you took.
How do you make the number one disappear?
Add a “g” and it’s gone.
How did the boy kick his soccer ball 10 feet, and then have it come back to him on its own?
He kicked it straight up.
What can you hold without touching it at all?
Who is bigger, Mr. Bigger, Mrs. Bigger, or their baby?
The baby, since he is a little Bigger.
I’m light as a feather, but not even the strongest girl can hold me for more than 5 minutes. What am I?
Where is there an ocean with no water?
On a map.
What happens if you throw a white hat into the Black Sea?
The hat gets wet.
How much dirt is there in a hole 3 feet deep, 6 feet long, and 4 feet wide?
None. There’s no dirt in a hole.
The one who makes it sells it. The one who buys it doesn’t use it. The one who uses it doesn’t know he is using it. What is it?
What kind of umbrella do people carry on a rainy day?
A wet one.
I am thrown out when you need me and brought back when you don’t. What am I?
I have an end but no beginning, a home but no family, a space without a room. I don’t speak but there is no word I cannot make. What am I?
If I smile, it also smiles. If I cry, it also cries. If I shout, it does nothing. What is it?
What tastes better than it smells?
What bird can lift the most weight?
What goes up when the rain comes down?
The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?
What kind of tree can you carry in your hand?
A palm tree.
Who is a father’s child, a mother’s child, but no one’s son?
What type of son does no parent want?
I am an insect that has the name of another insect in my name. What am I?
What runs around the yard without moving?
What happens when you throw a blue rock into the Yellow Sea?
You can’t see it, but it is always before you. What is it?
Read more: Morning meeting questions to start the day off right.
The Hardest Trick Questions!
You spot a boat full of people but there isn’t a single person onboard. How is that possible?
Everyone onboard is married.
If you had only one match and entered a dark room containing an oil lamp, some kindling wood, and a newspaper, which would you light first?
What’s greater than God and more evil than the devil? Rich people want it, poor people have it. And if you eat it, you’ll die?
A cowboy rode into town on Friday. He stayed in town for three days and rode out on Friday. How is that possible?
His horse is named Friday.
Is it legal for a man to marry his widow’s sister?
Yes, but since he is dead, it wouldn’t be possible.
If Mrs. John’s one-story house is decorated completely in pink, with the walls, carpet, and furniture all shades of pink, what color are the stairs?
There are no stairs because it’s a one-story house.
A young boy was rushed to the hospital, but the ER doctor saw the boy and refused to operate. “This boy is my son,” the doctor said. But the doctor wasn’t the boy’s father. How could this be?
The doctor was the boy’s mom.
How could a man go outside in the pouring rain without protection and not have a hair on his head get wet?
He is bald.
If an electric train is moving north at 100 mph and a wind is blowing to the west at 10 mph, which way does the smoke blow?
An electric train has no smoke.
How is it possible that every single person in an airplane crash died, but two people survived?
The two survivors were married, not single.
“The attorney is my brother,” testified the accountant. But the attorney testified he did not have a brother. Who is lying?
Neither one, because the accountant was his sister.
Imagine you’re in a room that’s filling up with water quickly. There are no windows or doors. How do you get out?
If you sit a cup on the table facing south while you are on the north side of the table, on which side is the cup’s handle?
No matter which way the cup is turned, the handle is always on the outside.
A man lives on the 100th floor of an apartment building. On rainy days he rides the elevator all the way up. But on sunny days, he goes halfway and takes the stairs the rest of the way. Why?
The man is short and can only reach the button for the 50th floor on the elevator. On rainy days, he uses his umbrella handle to press the button.
A man dressed all in black is walking down a country lane. Suddenly, a large black car with no lights on comes around the corner and screeches to a halt. How did the car’s driver know the man was there?
It was daytime.
My neighbor Robert, a 45-year-old blacksmith, is 7 feet tall and eats all day long. What does he weigh?
There are three important rooms in a house. The first one is filled with money. The second one is filled with important papers. The third one is filled with jewelry. One day all of these rooms burst into fire. Which room did the police put out the fire in first?
None. Police do not put out fires, firefighters do.
You are driving a bus. When you begin your route, an old woman named Mrs. Smith and a young boy named Raymond are on the bus. At the first stop, the old woman leaves, and a salesman named Ed enters. At the next stop, Jack and his sister Jill get on, as well as three women with shopping bags. The bus travels 15 minutes, then stops, and Raymond gets off and a man and his wife get on. Next, a woman with a bird in a cage gets on the bus. What is the name of the bus driver?
On a Sunday morning, the oldest girl in a family was murdered. The father was reading the paper, the mother was in the kitchen cooking breakfast, and the girl’s brother was playing video games. Uncle George was visiting and was out getting the mail. Who murdered the girl?
Uncle George. Mail isn’t delivered on Sunday.
If a giraffe has two eyes, a monkey has two eyes, and an elephant has two eyes, how many eyes do we have?
Four eyes. Assuming the person asking the question has two eyes and the person being asked has two eyes, the total is four.
You see a truck driver going the wrong way down a one-way street. He passes at least 10 police officers but doesn’t get stopped. Why?
The truck driver was walking, not driving.
You see two girls on the street who look identical. You ask them the following questions: Do you come from the same family? Do you share the same parents? Are your birthdays on the same day? Both girls answer yes to all your questions, but they say no when you ask if they were twins. How is that possible?
They aren’t twins, they are triplets.
Two security guards arrive for work at the same time in the morning. They have both guarded the same bank vault for the past 10 years. Neither of them ever takes a sick day, but they have never once laid eyes on each other. How is this possible?
They guard the vault on different days.
There are only two barbers in town. One of them has a nice, neatly trimmed head of hair. The other one’s hair is a complete mess. Which of the two barbers should you go to and why?
The one with messy hair because they cut the neat barber’s hair.
Two fathers took their sons to a fruit stall. Each man and son bought an apple, but when they returned home, they had only three apples. They did not eat any, lose any, or throw any away. How could this be possible?
There were only three people—son, father, and grandfather.
A woman pushes her car to a hotel and then proceeds to tell the owner that she is bankrupt. What happened?
She is playing Monopoly and her playing piece/token is the car.
If Mr. Smith’s peacock lays an egg in Mr. Jones’ yard, who owns the egg?
Neither. Peacocks don’t lay eggs, peahens do.
A 10-foot rope ladder hangs over the side of a boat with the bottom rung on the surface of the water. The rungs are 1 foot apart, and the tide goes up at the rate of 6 inches per hour. How long will it be until three rungs are covered?
Never. The boat rises as the tide goes up.