87 Brain Games Guaranteed to Boost Your Brain Power
Your brain isn’t a muscle—in fact, it’s mostly fat!—but the right kind of mental exercise can help keep it in shape. These puzzles are designed to give your problem-solving, reasoning, and concentration skills a workout. And they come in varying degrees of difficulty, so pace yourself!
Daniel, Emily, Marciano, and Christina are all wearing solid-colored shirts. The colors of their four shirts are red, yellow, green, and blue. Only the person wearing blue tells the truth, while the other three lie. They make the following statements:
Daniel: “Marciano is wearing red.”
Emily: “Daniel is not wearing yellow.”
Marciano: “Emily is wearing blue.”
Christina: “I’m going to wear blue tomorrow.”
Can you determine each person’s shirt color, and whether we can expect to see Christina in blue tomorrow? For more of a challenge, check out the hardest puzzles you can get on Amazon.
Odd die out
Here’s a flat template that can be folded into a cube. Which of the views below does not represent the resulting cube?
C. These brainteasers for kids will help to beat boredom.
A visiting professor from a distant galaxy tells you that on her planet, half of 10 is 6. If the same proportion holds true, what would she say is one sixth of 30?
This, not that
Matt is a bit odd. He likes only certain things. Can you figure out why he likes what he does from the following clues?
- He likes gum, but not mints.
- He likes the beach, but not the ocean.
- He likes cotton, but not wool.
- He likes medicine, but not doctors.
- He likes crystal, but not quartz.
Hot diggity dog
Charmaine is shopping for her big weekend barbecue. Her budget: $100. It costs $4 for a package of ten hot dogs and $3 for a package of eight buns. How many packages of each should she buy to maximize how many hot dogs she can serve? (Hint: She can have extra of either, but she won’t serve a hot dog without a bun.)
Charmaine should buy 13 packages of hot dogs and 16 packages of buns. She will spend exactly $100 and be able to serve 128 hot dogs.
Find five numbers in the circle that add up to 35. None of the five numbers are used more than once.
Note: There are also combinations of fewer than five numbers that add up to 35, but those combinations don’t count. (Pun intended.)
Fill in the blanks
How many common English words (no proper nouns, please) can you make by adding a
letter to each of the blanks below? We found five.
Abigail, Oliver, Rosa, and Blake all attend the same summer camp, where they can cook, kayak, rock climb, and zip-line. Each child has a different favorite activity. Can you figure out who likes what best based on the following clues?
- Abigail’s favorite activity isn’t rock climbing.
- Oliver is afraid of heights.
- Rosa can’t do her favorite activity without a harness.
- Blake likes to keep his feet on the ground at all times.
Abigail likes to zip-line, Oliver likes to kayak, Rosa likes to rock climb, and Blake likes to cook.
Each hand has all four suits. The number on the fourth card in each hand is the sum of the numbers on the first and third cards, and the number on the second card is the sum of the numbers on the first and fourth cards.
Rephrase each item below as a pair of rhyming words. Hint: A phrase’s number is also the number of syllables in each word in the answer.
- A purse from northern Europe
- A manly tortilla chip covered in cheese
- An eatery with a blasé attitude
- A docile teenager
- An association specializing in spontaneity
- Dutch clutch
- Macho nacho
- Nonchalant restaurant
- Acquiescent adolescent
- Improvisation organization
Emma is playing in a field where there are bees buzzing around some flowers. She notices that if one bee lands on each flower, one bee doesn’t get a flower. She also notices that if two bees land on each flower, one flower doesn’t get any bees. How many flowers and bees are there? Also, try out these brain games that will help you get smarter.
Give me five
If all five grids share a common feature, what’s the missing number? Here are some word search puzzles that you can print for free.
In each of the following pairs of words, switch one letter from the first word with one letter from the second word to form pairs of opposites. The switched letters can come from anywhere in either word. If your dog needs a brain boost too, try one of these puzzle toys for dogs.
LOFT / SOUND
COAL / WORM
FAN / REAR
HEAT / FEED
FLESH / STARE
Assuming all the tabs and slots on jigsaw pieces A and B are compatible with each other, how many different ways can you put these two pieces together? If you want a game for the whole family, try these best-reviewed board games.
The Noun Project (4)The names of five different fruits are hidden between consecutive words in the silly story below. Can you find them all?
Example: Washington, DC, and Lima, Peru, are on the same longitude. (melon)
A man goes to a lumberyard. He has little money, so he’s looking for cheap lumber. But the prices are too high. Suddenly feeling really cheeky, the man decides to steal the wood he needs and, like a skilled escape artist, manages to slip away without arousing suspicion. This is why jigsaw puzzles are good for your brain.
The Noun Project (4)Mango (man goes), lemon (little money), plum (cheap lumber), lychee (really cheeky), pear (escape artist).
Kristen’s friends want to buy her a wedding gift. Originally ten friends were going to chip in equally, but then two of them dropped out. Each of the remaining eight friends had to chip in another dollar to bring the total back up to the original amount. How much money did they plan to collect?
The sum of the dots on the top and bottom halves of each domino is an odd number—except for the domino in the top right corner, where it is an even number.
3 and 7. In each grid, add the top number to the one in the center to get the number on the left. Then add the center number to the one on the bottom to get the number on the right.
Time for a tune
Musical notation divides time into equal sections known as measures. The legend shows what fraction of a measure each type of note takes up when you’re playing in 4/4 time. How many measures will have elapsed once you finish playing the sequence of notes above in 4/4 time?
Kangaroo words contain the letters—in order—of another word that means almost the same thing as the original word. For example, the r, e, s, and t from respite form rest. Find the kangaroo words in the terms below.
George, William, John, Abe, and Millard have their birthdays on consecutive days. This year, all their birthdays land between Monday and Friday. Can you figure out whose birthday is on each weekday?
- George’s birthday is as many days before Millard’s as William’s is after Abe’s.
- John is two days older than Abe.
- Millard’s birthday is on Thursday.
Each of the symbols in this diagram represents a door that is closed but unlocked. When you open a door, all the other doors with the same symbol become locked and cannot be passed through. Can you get from one side of the maze to the other?
Mix it up
An anagram is a word or phrase created by rearranging the letters of a word or phrase into a new term. We call the ones below super-anagrams because the mixed-up phrase creates a loose definition of the original. For instance, “acts phony” and “sycophant.” Can you figure out the super-anagrams for these terms?
- Moon starer
- Bad credit
- Bag manager
- Debit card
- Garbage man
Mary needs to bring a fruit salad to the annual holiday party, but some of her friends are very picky eaters. Based on her shopping list below, can you figure out what type of fruit they like?
Mary bought a banana, not a strawberry.
Mary bought a kiwi, not a pear.
Mary bought an apple, not an apricot.
Mary bought an orange, not a peach.
Mary bought a mango, not a grapefruit.
Tom resolved to get in shape by doing push-ups every morning before work. Each day from Monday to Friday, he did ten more push-ups than he’d done the day before. If Tom did 50 push-ups on Thursday, how many push-ups did he do in total from Monday to Friday?
There are 12 checkers on a table, arranged as shown. Four adjacent checkers can be united in a square. Including the one outlined, how many possible groupings are there of four checkers that form a square?
Rearrange the shapes into a new sequence that follows these rules:
- The triangle is to the immediate left of the pentagon.
- The circle is to the left of the square and to the right of the triangle.
- The octagon is not the last figure in the sequence.
- No shape remains in its original position.
To boost your brain more, try these printable crossword puzzles.
Take the stairs
Proceeding up the staircase, the numbers form a logical sequence. What number belongs on the top step?
Bacon or eggs?
Gwen has very particular tastes. Can you figure out the rule behind her culinary preferences?
Gwen likes bacon, but not eggs.
Gwen likes lemon, but not lime.
Gwen likes jelly, but not marmalade.
Gwen likes pasta, but not rice.
Pointing the way
Move the numbers from the outer frame onto the board so they snake together vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in sequence from 1 to 25. (For example, 2 must touch both 1 and 3.) The catch: You can only move a number in the direction indicated on its home square. Each number fits in its own cell.
Timing is everything
Rich lives in the Eastern Standard Time zone. His sister, Barbara, lives in the Central European Time zone, six hours ahead of him. Rich works between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in his local time and goes to sleep each evening at 10 p.m. on the dot. Barbara works between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and always goes to sleep at 11:30 p.m. in her own local time. Is there any window in which Rich could call Barbara after his workday without interrupting her on the job or disturbing her sleep?
The diagrams are numbers counting up by 14, pushed together so they overlap slightly. The sequence leaves off at 70, so the next diagram should represent 84.
An imperfect fit
Imagine the two-dimensional shape D is fixed in place and sits in a three-sided box. Shapes A, B, and C can be rotated and placed onto D only from above and cannot stick out past the box on the right or left. One of the three cannot be placed onto D without leaving blank space beneath it in the box. Which one?
How many times does the digit 5 occur in the numbers from 1 to 100?
Twenty times. The digit 5 appears ten times as a last digit (5, 15, 25 … 95) and ten times as a first digit (50, 51, 52 … 59). Check out these word puzzles that will leave you stumped.
The grid contains matches of different sizes, any of which may be completely unburned, partially burned, or completely burned. Matches burn from the head (the red end) to the tail without skipping segments. The numbers outside the grid indicate the number of burned segments in the corresponding row or column. Can you shade in the burned segments to “match” the numbers?
Try these morning brain boosters to keep your mind sharp.
Sophie and Caroline made arrangements to meet at a café at 2 p.m. Sophie thinks her watch is 25 minutes fast, although it is actually 10 minutes slow. Caroline thinks her watch is 10 minutes slow, while it is actually 5 minutes fast. What will happen if they both aim to arrive exactly on time?
Sophie will be 35 minutes late. Caroline will arrive at 1:45 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of time. See if you can solve these really tricky brain teasers.
Meteor showers bring spring flowers
Space dust has landed on Earth, carrying with it seeds for exotic new alien flowers. One of them still lacks a name. If the xenobotanists follow the same rules they used to create the other terms, what should they call the last flower?
Cosmofilium jupibristo. The first half of the top term tells the color of the flower’s center; the last half is the petal color. The first half of the bottom term tells the shape of the flower’s center; the last half is the shape of the petals.
Only the smartest people can solve these detective riddles.
The long and short of it
Six neighborhood children—Leisha, Benito, Delia, Charlotte, Weldon, and Zina—were measured yesterday. Weldon is taller than Delia but shorter than Zina. Leisha is taller than Benito but shorter than Delia and Weldon. Benito is not the shortest. List the kids in order of height from tallest to shortest.
A whole number between one and seven belongs in each of the seven bubbles. Each number occurs once. The sums of some of the numbers are revealed in the areas where their bubbles overlap. Can you figure out which number goes in each bubble?
Test your numbers knowledge with these math riddles.
These are the toughest riddles ever. Can you solve them?
Carmela receives a text message from an unfamiliar number, so she texts back, “Who is this?”
The strange response: “It’s one of your female relatives. Your mother’s mother is my father’s mother-in-law.” Even assuming that this information is true, it doesn’t help Carmela pinpoint an individual, since there are two relationships it could describe. What are they?
Complete the grid so that each row, each column, and each three-by-three frame contains the nine letters from the black box at the top. The hidden nine-letter word is in the diagonal from top left to bottom right.
Only 2 percent of people can solve Einstein’s Riddle. See if you can beat it!
More or less
Place the hexagons below into the pyramid so each number is either greater than the sum of the two numbers below it or less than the difference between them. For instance, if two adjacent numbers were 20 and 50, any number higher than 70 or lower than 30 could be on top of them. (And no, do not turn 98 upside down to make it 86!)
If you can solve the secret word in this logic puzzle you might be a genius.
Kate and Faizal both believe that they need a cup of coffee every three hours to stay awake and function. They both drink their first cup at 8 a.m. and another one every three hours thereafter until they go to sleep. Considering the following facts, who is spending more on coffee each week?
- Kate stays up until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Faizal stays up until 10 p.m. every day.
- Kate pays $3 per cup of coffee. Faizal drinks higher-grade organic coffee and pays $4 per cup.
Faizal. He spends $140 per week, while Kate spends $111. See if you can find the doll hidden in this picture.
You just bought nine beautiful lakeside campsites, which you can rent to campers with tents for $20 per campsite per night. You can also upgrade the sites with electrical hookups. This will cost you $60 per campsite but will allow you to rent to RVers for $40 per night. Suppose you can always fill your campground to capacity. If you’re starting without any cash on hand, how many nights will pass before you’ll be able to upgrade all nine sites?
Three. On the first night, you’ll host nine tents and make $180, which you’ll use to upgrade three sites. On the second night, you’ll host three RVs and six tents, earning $240, letting you upgrade another four sites. On the third night, you’ll host seven RVs and two tents, earning you more than enough to upgrade the last two.
Place one of the four basic arithmetic operations (+, –, ×, ÷) in each box to make a correct equation. All operations are performed from left to right, ignoring the mathematical order of operations. The result at each step must be a positive whole number. What’s the equation?
The playing card suits in the cells above are placed according to a pattern. What’s the missing symbol?
Spade. Each suit has a numerical value: diamonds equal one, hearts equal two, spades equal three, and clubs equal four. Or, if you prefer, diamonds equal four, hearts equal three, spades equal two, and clubs equal one. Either way, each row and column adds up to ten, and the missing symbol is a spade. Now, can you guess which flag comes next in this puzzle?
How many pets live in my house if all of them are snakes except two, all are hamsters except two, and all are rabbits except two?
Win or lose
The Reds, the Grays, the Blues, and the Blacks have a round-robin tournament wherein each team plays each other team once, for a total of six games. The Blacks won more games than the Blues, and the Grays lost more games than the Blues. The Reds tied the Blacks, the only tie in the tournament (a tie counts as neither a win nor a loss). Who won the game of the Reds versus the Blues?
The Reds. The Blacks tied one game, so they won a maximum of two games. They won more than the Blues, so the Blues won a maximum of one game. Since the Grays lost more times than the Blues, the Grays must have lost all three matches. The match that the Blues won must have been against the Grays, so the Blues lost the match against the Reds. Can you find the missing number in this puzzle?
See if you can spot the difference between these nearly identical animals.
Lois and Helen, widowed sisters, lived together out in the country. Their habits never changed: up at dawn, breakfast, some housework and gardening until lunch. In the afternoon, Helen napped while Lois watched her shows—Helen never watched TV. Then Helen would clean the vegetables for dinner and Lois would cook. In the evening, they’d read before bed. One night before they turned in, a storm knocked out the power. Everything was pitch-black, and Lois began to panic. “What should we do?” she cried. Helen just smiled and kept reading. Why did Helen stay calm while her sister did not?
Jake loves steak; Trish loves fish
Jacob enjoys steak so much that the probability that he’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in three. The favorite dish of his wife, Patricia, is fresh fish. The probability that she’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in two. Because Jacob and Patricia always dine together, they’ll never have steak and fish on the same night. On average, how many times in a 30-day month will they be having either steak or fish?
25 nights. Over 250,000 people have tried to solve this riddle—can you?
Each of the three lines of letters below spells the name of a fruit, but four letters from the first word are in the third line, four letters from the third word are in the second line, and four letters from the second word are in the first line. What are the words?
Tamara has $20,000 saved up. If four-fifths of what Tamara has equals eight-ninths of what Martina has, how much money does Martina have?
Jerry Mander strikes again
Your name is Jerry Mander, and you must draw your town’s voting districts so that George Greene becomes dogcatcher rather than Barbara Blue. To do that, Greene must win the majority of the city’s five voting districts. Each district comprises three households. This map shows how each of the town’s 15 households will vote (the tree represents a park that’s not in any district). The catch: The three households in each district must share at least one border with at least one other household in the district. Can you draw the five districts in a way that guarantees Greene defeats Blue?
Next, try your hand at some of the most famous riddles in history.
Place one of the four arithmetic operations (+, –, ×, ÷) in each box to make a correct equation. All operations are performed from left to right, ignoring the mathematical order of operations. The result at each step must be a positive whole number.
Have a chocolate
Dad: “Where are the chocolate bars I bought?”
Daughter: “I gave half of them to Mom and half of a bar to my little brother. Then I gave half of what was left to Grandma and half of a bar to my little sister. That left me with one bar, which I gladly ate myself.”
How many bars did Dad originally buy?
Seven. See if you can solve this tricky numbers riddle in less than 60 seconds.
Try to spot the difference in these ten pictures. It’s really tricky, hopefully, you have a good eye.
There goes the neighborhood
Each of the six people quoted below lives in one of the six houses in the neighborhood shown. The houses are white, brown, green, blue, yellow, and orange. Assuming that everyone is telling the truth, whose house is painted which color?
Mrs. Antonini: Mrs. Borden lives due north of me.
Mrs. Borden: I live in the orange house. I can walk to Mrs. Englehardt’s house without crossing any streets.
Mr. Cruz: I live due east of a green house.
Miss Dubois: There’s a white house north of mine, but I can’t see it from my house, because there’s a brown house in the way.
Mrs. Englehardt: I live directly across a street from both a yellow house and a white house.
Mr. Fung: I live in the green house.
You need to acquire at least six pencils, six pens, and six erasers for $5.20 or less. If the packages listed below are the only combinations that are available, which do you take? You can buy more than one of the same package.
A. Two erasers for 70 cents
B. Four pencils, one pen, and two erasers for $1.30
C. Three pencils, four pens, and three erasers for $3.20
D. One pencil, three pens, and two erasers for $1.90
E. One pencil and five pens for $2.30
Using all the letters listed below only once, can you find the names of three spices?
Can you pass the world’s shortest IQ test? It’s really hard, less than 20 percent of people can.
You need to empty the contents of two of the five boxes listed below into a bag. Which two will give you the best chance of drawing a red ball at random from the bag?
Box A: 3 red balls, 5 silver balls
Box B: 4 red, 6 silver
Box C: 7 red, 9 silver
Box D: 1 red
Box E: 12 red, 14 silver
Francesca is as old as the combined ages of her brothers, Harry and Ernie. Harry is two years younger than Ernie. When everyone was a year younger, the combined ages of the three siblings was three quarters of the sum of their present ages. How old is each sibling now?
Replace the B in the first word with an R and the S in the second word with an H for rush hour.
Place these commonly misspelled words in the crossword grid.
There are eight semiprecious gems in Ellen’s collection. At current market prices, four are worth $5, three are worth $10, and one is worth $25. She gives them to her three children: Matthew, Aaron, and Jeremy.
The total value of each child’s gift is the same.
Jeremy receives exactly three stones.
Matthew receives the lowest number of stones.
How are the gems distributed?
Matthew: one stone worth $25
Aaron: one stone worth $10 and three worth $5
Jeremy: two stones worth $10 and one worth $5
The top names contain a Roman numeral and a number that matches its value, so NAXIR 11 fits in with them.
What am I?
I run but never walk. I gurgle but don’t talk. I have a bed but never sleep. And I have a mouth but never eat. What am I?
Party at Charlie’s
You’ve been invited to a party at Charlie’s house. As part of the fun, you’ve agreed to solve a puzzle to figure out where he lives. He has seven friends who live nearby. They’ve given you a map showing all of their houses and Charlie’s house, along with the following information:
Daniel: I can’t see Benita’s house, because Greta’s house is in the way.
Adam: I live directly (not diagonally) across the street from Daniel.
Benita: Elena lives due west of me.
Elena: I have to cross three streets to walk to Franco’s house.
Hal: I live east of Benita.
Where does Charlie live?
You own a toy-making studio with two employees.
Carving a toy takes two hours. Painting one takes one hour. Packaging one takes one hour.
You can’t paint a toy until it has been carved. Similarly, you can’t package one until it has been painted.
Both of your employees are capable of doing any of the three tasks, but they can’t both work on the same task for the same toy at the same time.
What is the lowest number of hours it would take your employees to carve, paint, and package three toys?
What am I?
Turn me on my side and I am everything. Cut me in half and I am nothing. What am I?
Each of these words contains the letters—in order—of another word that means almost the same thing as the original word. For example, the u, s, e, and d from accustomed form the word used. Can you figure them out?
Runs in the family
Tim and his daughter, Carol, both ran in a 10K race. Tim finished in 49 minutes; Carol, in 54. Tim ran at a perfectly steady pace, but Carol lost steam and took exactly 25 percent more time to complete the second half of the race compared with the first. Tim’s wife and Carol’s mother, Marcie, stood at the halfway mark to cheer them on as they passed. Who went by her first?
The missing link
Two of the identical rings in this pile are actually linked together. Which two?
Forest for the trees
A spanning tree (or just a tree, for short) is a diagram made of dots and straight lines, in which every line goes between two dots, all the dots are connected, and no lines connect with others to form closed loops. Some examples are in the image above.
A drawing that has several spanning trees is called a forest. If a forest has three trees and 27 lines in it, how many dots does it have?
30 dots. Any tree you draw will contain one dot more than its number of lines. So add three (the number of trees in the forest) to 27 (the number of lines). Now, try these word puzzles that will leave you stumped.
Great minds love games
Doing a crossword or a Sudoku every day to keep your mind sharp may seem like a recent concept. In fact, people have been challenging their brains with puzzles as far back as 3,600 years ago, when the ancient Egyptians developed math problems on papyrus and wooden tablets. Want more puzzles? Our Mind Stretchers books are available online and wherever books are sold.