Puzzles and Brainteasers


1) Write down a 3 digit number
(it cannot include a zero and the 1st and last digit cannot be the same)

2) Reverse the digits

3) Subtract the smaller 3 digit number from the larger 3 digit number

4) Reverse the digits of the answer from #3

5) Add the 3 digit numbers from #3 and #4


Is your answer 1089????


If you are wondering how in the world I knew your answer, then your brain has been teased!  Do you really want to know how I knew this?  How exactly does this puzzle of the mind work?  Have you ever been in a situation like this where you didn't know how something worked but wanted to figure it  out?  Have you ever given up because a problem like this just seems to hard?

      Puzzles and brainteasers are not only fun, challenging games but they can also be useful counseling tools. Therapist B. Gilroy used brainteasers and magic to interact with125 eigth graders during an overnight
class trip.  These less threatening activities allowed the therapist to enter into the adolescents' world
without threatening their independence or forcing them to reveal more than they wanted to about
themselves (Gilroy, 2001.)

     Puzzles and brainteasers provide interesting and adaptable techniques to use when counseling children and adolescents.  They can be utilized as an individualized game in which the student is in competition with him or her self, trying to figure out the "trick" or work on that last clue. Puzzles can also bring people together.  They can also be used as group activites, with either students competing with one another or working together to figure out the solution.  We can talk while we work on a puzzle and sometimes the lack of eye contact yet physical closeness can encourage honest communication (Schultz, 2002.)  In any of these possibilities, puzzles and brainteasers can be used to enhance the counseling process.  These techniques can introduce a guidance topic by motivating the students to become involved in the activity.  Short puzzles or brainteasers can also add relief and humor to tense moments or possibly can raise students' alertness and critical thinking skills.
    Jane Gebers (1985), a resource specialist teacher, argues that all of us, especially students, need to give our left side of the brain a rest every now and then.  Puzzles provide a wonderful outlet.  The left side of the brain focusing on listening, talking, reading, wiriting, arithmetic, and logical reasoning, all of the activities that students participate in most of their school day.  The right side of the brain deals with color and spatial concepts, perfect for working on large, bright jigsaw puzzles.  The right side of the brain needs eexercise also, and by allowing students to work on puzzles they re-energize, cooperate, and explore through discovery learning.  Another benefit is that students usually gain a strong sense of completion and achievement when they finish a puzzle.

    Gebers (1985) recommends that the students work on writing or creating stories to accompany puzzles they may be working on in class.  This acitivity could easily be adapted for school counselors.  For instance, enlarge and laminate a picture of a student bullying another student. Cut the picture into jigsaw pieces and now you have an activity for students to work (hands-on) with when your small group discusses and processes various aspects of 'bullying'.

    As counselors, we can use various resources for finding different, appropriate puzzles and brainteasers to use with students.  
Websites, such as Recreationtherapy.com offer numerous, free ideas for puzzles and games to use with students.  Jigzone.com
also provides free online jigsaw puzzles but this site is most beneficial because it allows users to make their own photots into jigsaw puzzles!  "Wordles" are also interesting and unique word puzzles that can be used in guidance activities to address pertinent issues such as comunication skills or team work.  Kids love learning the tricks to these teasers so I recommend using these techniques to build group rapport or working to get students comfortable with one another.  Of course, as with all counseling techniques and activities, it is not necesarily the technique itself, but rather the process and discussion.  It is vital to used the facilitative and problem solving models throughout the counseling time to better ensure successful outsomes.

     Jigsaw puzzles have become quite a popular mutlicultural pasttime.  In French, Jigsaw Puzzles are called "Casse-tetes". When roughly translated this means "head-breaker" (Shultz,2002).  I find puzzles and brainteasers to be an amuzing anomolie.  As human beings, we seem to slighty enjoy torturing ourselves, mentally, into order to figure out the solution.  We may just ravish in the extra mental exercise, or competition.  No matter what the reasoning behind our desire to challenge oursleves, puzzles and brainteasers still appeal to a wide variety of individuals and when used appropriately, they can enhance the counseling and educational process.

 mouse *  Counselors!! Still want more brainteasers and puzzles?            
                                          Click here to test out your therapy knowledge.

book  References

Gebers, J. (1985).  Jigsaw puzzles:  rest for the left side of the brain.  Academic Therapy, 20, 5, p. 548-549.

Gilroy, B. D.  (2001).  Using magic therapeutically with children.  Kadison, H. G. & Schaefer, C. E. (Eds.)  101 more
    favorite play therapy techniques
.  Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, N. J., p. 429-438.

Schultz, V.  (2002).  Jigsaw therapy.  America, 186, 13, p. 6-7.

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