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20 Perfect Brain Teasers for 5th Grade

Updated: 4 days ago

Elementary teachers love brain teasers because they are fun, challenging, and educational. These puzzles are perfect for stimulating students' minds, encouraging critical thinking, and providing a break from routine classroom activities. Below are some fantastic brain teasers tailored for students in 5th grade that can be used in the morning and discussed at the end of the day, or given on a Friday to be reviewed on Monday.


Why Use Brain Teasers in 5th Grade?

  • Enhance Problem-Solving Skills: They encourage students to think logically and creatively.

  • Promote Teamwork: They can be solved individually or in groups, fostering collaboration.

  • Build Perseverance: Students learn to persist and try different approaches to solve the puzzles.

  • Fun and Engaging: They provide a playful, scree-free break from regular lessons while still being educational.


5th Grade Brain Teasers with Answers

The Missing Dollar Riddle

  • Teaser: Three friends check into a hotel room that costs $30. They each contribute $10. Later, the hotel realizes the room only costs $25, so they give $5 back. The bellboy can’t split the $5 evenly, so he gives $1 back to each person and keeps $2. Now, each person has paid $9, totaling $27. The bellboy has $2. What happened to the remaining $1?

  • Answer: There is no missing dollar. The $27 includes the $25 room cost and the $2 kept by the bellboy.

Light Bulb Switches

  • Teaser: You have three light switches outside a room, all of which are off. Each switch controls one of three light bulbs inside the room. You can flip the switches as much as you want but can only enter the room once. How do you determine which switch controls which bulb?

  • Answer: Turn on the first switch and leave it on for a few minutes. Then, turn it off and turn on the second switch. Immediately enter the room. The bulb that is off and warm is controlled by the first switch, the bulb that is on is controlled by the second switch, and the bulb that is off and cold is controlled by the third switch.

The Number Sequence

  • Teaser: What is the next number in the sequence: 1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221?

  • Answer: 312211. Each term describes the previous term. (One 1, two 1s, one 2 one 1, etc.)

The Four-Digit Number

  • Teaser: I am a four-digit number. My thousands digit is three less than my hundreds digit. My tens digit is twice my ones digit. My hundreds digit is 3. What number am I?

  • Answer: 6216.

The Enchanted Frog

  • Teaser: A frog is at the bottom of a 20-meter well. Each day he jumps up 5 meters but slides back 3 meters each night. How many days does it take for the frog to reach the top?

  • Answer: 9 days. On the 9th day, the frog reaches the 20th meter and doesn’t slide back.

The Riddle of the Ages

  • Teaser: I am a five-letter word, and I become shorter when you add two letters to me. What am I?

  • Answer: Short (adding “er” makes it "shorter").

The Fish Puzzle

  • Teaser: You have a fishbowl with 10 fish. 2 drown, and 4 swim away. How many are left?

  • Answer: 10 fish. (Fish don’t drown, and they can’t swim away from a fishbowl.)

The Family Math Riddle

  • Teaser: Two fathers and two sons go fishing. Each of them catches one fish, yet only three fish are caught. How is this possible?

  • Answer: They are three people: a grandfather, his son, and his grandson.

The Logical Sequence

  • Teaser: What comes next in the sequence: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, ___?

  • Answer: 49 (These are the squares of the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7).

The Number Challenge

  • Teaser: I am an odd number. Take away one letter, and I become even. What number am I?

  • Answer: Seven (remove the “s” to make it “even”).

The Confusing Coin

  • Teaser: A man has 4 daughters. Each of his daughters has a brother. How many children does he have?

  • Answer: 5 children. All daughters share the same brother.

The Calendar Conundrum

  • Teaser: Which month of the year has 28 days?

  • Answer: All of them. Every month has at least 28 days.

The Fruit Basket

  • Teaser: A basket contains 5 apples. You take away 3. How many apples do you have now?

  • Answer: 3 apples (because you took 3 apples).


5th grade apple basket brain teaser

The Building Riddle

  • Teaser: The person who makes it sells it. The person who buys it never uses it. The person who uses it never knows they're using it. What is it?

  • Answer: A coffin.

The Stairs Puzzle

  • Teaser: A man builds a house with four sides. Each side has a southern exposure. A big bear walks by. What color is the bear?

  • Answer: White. The house is at the North Pole, so the bear is a polar bear.

The Egg Dilemma

  • Teaser: If a rooster lays an egg on top of a barn, which side will it roll down?

  • Answer: Neither. Roosters don’t lay eggs.


5th grade rooster on a barn brain teaser

The Pirate's Treasure

  • Teaser: A pirate has a chest filled with gold and needs to divide it among his crew. If he gives each of his men one coin, he is left with one coin. If he gives each of his men two coins, he needs one more coin. How many coins and men are there?

  • Answer: 7 men and 8 coins.

The Four Digit Mystery

  • Teaser: I am a four-digit number. My first digit is three times the last digit. The second digit is twice the last digit, and the third digit is the sum of the first and second digits. What number am I?

  • Answer: 3624.

The Water Jug Problem

  • Teaser: You have a 3-gallon jug and a 5-gallon jug. How can you measure exactly 4 gallons of water using these two jugs?

  • Answer: Fill the 5-gallon jug. Pour water from it into the 3-gallon jug until the 3-gallon jug is full. This leaves exactly 2 gallons in the 5-gallon jug. Empty the 3-gallon jug. Pour the 2 gallons from the 5-gallon jug into the 3-gallon jug. Fill the 5-gallon jug again and pour water from it into the 3-gallon jug until the 3-gallon jug is full. This leaves exactly 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.

The Three Light Bulbs

  • Teaser: There are three light bulbs in a room, and three switches outside the room. Each switch controls one bulb. You can turn the switches on and off as many times as you want, but you can only enter the room once. How can you determine which switch controls which bulb?

  • Answer: Turn on two switches, wait for a few minutes, then turn one switch off and enter the room. The bulb that is on is controlled by the switch that remains on. The bulb that is off but warm is controlled by the switch you turned off. The bulb that is off and cold is controlled by the switch that was never turned on.

The Crossing Bridge

  • Teaser: Four people need to cross a bridge at night. They have one flashlight, and the bridge is too dangerous to cross without it. Only two people can cross at a time. Person A takes 1 minute, B takes 2 minutes, C takes 5 minutes, and D takes 8 minutes. How can they all get across in 15 minutes?

  • Answer: A and B cross (2 minutes). A returns (1 minute). C and D cross (8 minutes). B returns (2 minutes). A and B cross again (2 minutes). Total time = 2 + 1 + 8 + 2 + 2 = 15 minutes.

5th grade crossing bridge brain teaser

The Clock Angle

  • Teaser: At what times between 4 and 5 o'clock do the minute and hour hands of a clock overlap?

  • Answer: At approximately 4:21:49. The formula for finding the exact time is (60/11)*H, where H is the hour.


How to Use These Fifth Grade Brain Teasers

  1. Morning Warm-Up: Start the day by presenting a brain teaser to engage students’ minds right away.

  2. Daily Challenge: Introduce a new brain teaser each day and discuss the solution at the end of the day.

  3. Weekend Puzzle: Give a challenging brain teaser on Friday and review it on Monday.

  4. Team Activity: Split the class into groups and let them solve brain teasers together, promoting collaboration.


Brain teasers are a wonderful tool for enhancing fifth grade students’ cognitive abilities while providing a fun and engaging break from traditional lessons. Incorporate these puzzles into your daily routine, and watch your students develop critical thinking skills and enjoy the process of solving problems together.


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5th grade classroom with greenery outside

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