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Mystery solving, Riddles, Puzzles and Spy-Detective games; Why deductive thinking is great for kids

Updated: Feb 12, 2020

Hands up if you grew up with detective books such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes and the Famous Five! I certainly did!

I think the great thing about these books was that they were about ordinary kids who used their wits and what was around them to solve clues and catch the bad guys. We as kids connected with these characters as it made us feel that we too could solve a mystery and save the day!

We all know what a great feeling one gets when they crack the first word in a code word, or when you have completed a puzzle, or solved a particularly challenging riddle.

Its no wonder then, that doing riddles and puzzles has so many benefits for children. Not only does it boost general knowledge but also expands their vocabulary and makes learning fun, particularly because kids are more interested in game-based learning.

Detective type games can also provide a healthy distraction for your child; helping them improve important life skills by getting them to think in unconventional ways to solve a problem.

It is well known that exercising the brain improves analytical thinking, creativity and problem-solving. Crossword puzzles and code word games are also fantastic for improving spelling and language as they force you to get the spelling right- otherwise you won’t be able to get complete the puzzle.

They also help kids to concentrate better, and the more your child engages in these types of games the more you will be able to see a significant improvement in their observational and reasoning skills.

If your child likes solving puzzles and clues then check out Glimmer Events’ Spy Detective Adventure on 4th April this fun interactive event is perfect for kids of reading age from 6 to 11. There is limited availability so book now to avoid disappointment.

Just for fun, here are 3 Riddles to try out with your kids and 3 Detective type games that all the family can enjoy together. We played the Mafia and detective one over Christmas and it was a big hit! Having us in fits of laughter with the young ones not being too covert!


1. Riddle: It starts with ‘P’, ends with ‘E’ and has thousands of letters in it. What is it?

Answer: A Post Office.

2. Riddle: Three men jump into the water, but only two come out with wet hair. Why?

Answer: The third man was bald.

3. Riddle: Sherry’s father has five daughters- Sasa, Sese, Sisi, Soso. Guess the name of the fifth daughter.

Answer: If you think it is Susu then you are wrong. It is Sherry.

Detective games to play with the family

1. Mafia and Detectives

Everyone sits in a circle on the ground or in level chairs except for one person (everyone must be able to see everyone in the circle). The person standing up is the command giver (CG) and is in charge of telling people two basic commands, picking the Mafia, and telling the other people (the detectives) if they where right or wrong about who they think the Mafia is. At the beginning of the game, the CG tells everyone to “go to sleep” (close their eyes). The CG walks around the circle and chooses someone to be the Mafia by tapping twice on their head (the rest of the people become detectives). The CG then tells everyone to wake up and open their eyes. Then everyone makes eye contact with everyone while the person who is the Mafia tries to “kill” people by winking at them. If a certain person is winked at, they must die dramatically. The game is ended either if someone guesses who the Mafia is (and is correct; if that person is wrong – he/she must “die” on the spot), or if the Mafia has “killed” off everyone. If someone does guess who the Mafia is, they then become the CG. This is one of those games for kids that usually lasts a few minutes and the kids normally want to play it several times.

2. Gumshoe-Shoe Detectives

Have every person that arrives at the party outline their shoes on a piece of paper. Collect all the papers and give each page a different number (making a list of the kid’s name and the number of the page where his/her feet are outlined on). Then, during the party pass out a shoe outline to each kid (make sure not to give a kid their own shoe outline) and give the kids a few minutes to figure out who’s shoe outline they have. They will have a really good time while they frantically try and measure other people’s shoes, while others are trying to measure their shoes!

3. Detective Touch

Take a regular big cardboard box and make 2 holes in the side (big enough to fit both hands). Put all kinds of things in the box (for example cooked spaghetti, Jell-O cubes and pudding, a duster, etc. Use anything that can be very mysterious to touch and must be guessed without knowing what’s inside the box. After putting different kinds of interesting things, close off the box and let the kids put their hands in. They then need to let you know or write on a piece of paper what they think is in the box.

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