Riddles & Puzzles (Upper-Intermediate to Advanced Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Upper-intermediate to advanced (B2/C1/C2)
Lesson Topics: riddles, Einstein puzzles, rebus puzzles
Skill Focus: Critical thinking, speaking
Approximate Class Time: 1.5 hours
Lesson Plan Download: riddles-puzzles-lesson-072023.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • This is something between a worksheet and a lesson plan. On the first page, the lesson contains seventeen classic riddles broken into easy, intermediate, and difficult categories.
  • The second page presents the classic Einstein puzzle, that allegedly only two percent of people can solve. (If you find that your students are having a really hard time with it, you could assign it for homework.)
  • Next, students work in pairs to help each other solve five lateral thinking puzzles.
  • The lesson ends with an introduction to rebus puzzles, with 16 of them for students to solve.
  • Notes: Given the mental work required, solving puzzles may not be the most speaking-focused task. If possible, put students in groups to solve the puzzles so they can practice their speaking skills.

A red question mark

RIDDLES & PUZZLES (B2+) Lesson from EnglishCurrent.com

Task: Read the below riddles aloud and try to solve them in pairs or as a group.

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-- Lesson plan on riddles and puzzles written by Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com (copyright), though the riddles were taken from the public domain. Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

Answers to Riddles

  1. Paul was speaking with her on his phone.
  2. You do not bury survivors.
  3. the future
  4. a sponge
  5. an egg
  6. Door 3; the tigers would have starved to death.
  7. fire
  8. What color are your eyes? You are the driver.
  9. A shadow
  10. A clock
  11. A path
  12. A tree
  13. Leaves
  14. Keys
  15. Ask one guard this question: If you were the other guard, which door would you tell me leads to freedom? Then you go through the opposite door the guard advised. If you ask the truthful guard, they would truthfully inform you that the lying guard would point to the door leading to certain death. If you ask the lying guard, since they always lie, they would also indicate that the other guard would point to the door leading to certain death. In either case, you should choose the opposite door that they indicate, as it will be the one leading to freedom.
  16. They were musicians.
  17. Ton (hint: ‘ton’ backward is ‘not’)
  18. He lives on the first floor.
  19. He had hiccups. The scare from seeing the gun stopped the hiccups. This is why he does not need the water anymore.
  20. She is the priest/pastor/officiant who performed the ceremonies, i.e. marrying the people.
  21. They are triplets.
  22. He is a dwarf or a very short person who cannot reach the button #10 in the elevator.

Einstein’s Riddle Answers (for help with solution, see the original puzzle here.)

  1. Norwegian, Yellow, Cat, Water, Piano
    2. Danish, Blue, Horse, Tea, Basketball
    3. British, Red, Birds, Milk, Baseball
    4. German, Green, Fish, Coffee, Soccer
    5. Swedish, White, Dogs, Beer, Violin

 Rebus puzzle answer key:

Go for itMake upMisunderstoodIce cube
CrossroadsTop secretExcuse meI understand
Big dealPainless operationGoing on a dietTuna fish
Walk in the parkScrambled eggsTravel overseasEiffel Tower


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