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ThinkFun Family Brainstorms Challenge of the Week

Each week we feature a new puzzle that you can print out in black and white on a single page and use as a black line master with your students. Schools have reported great success by encouraging families to work on the puzzles together at home. Print out the PDF file, file the solution page and make copies of the Challenge page to hand out to your students.
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Name the Month
Name the Month
by Martin Gardner
It is said this set of strange symbols stands for a month. What should be the possible approach to break this "code" down and thus, decipher what month it can be? Will it be a forthright approach or more complicated?
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The Triangular Grid
The Triangular Grid
by Peter Grabarchuk
Arrange eight pieces to create a shape with a triangular pattern on it. Each piece is cut from a hexagon and includes a part of the pattern on it. The goal is to fit the pieces correctly within the board.
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Hampton Court Maze
Hampton Court Maze
Find the path through the most famous of all hedge mazes - Hampton Court Maze. It traces its roots back to 1702, being the oldest surviving maze of this kind in the World.
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The Match Cross
The Match Cross
by Peter Grabarchuk
Five identical squares form a cross. Three matchsticks can be moved so that six identical squares would appear. The only thing left is to find the spots for the matchsticks to be moved to. What are they?
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Eight Checkered L's
Eight Checkered L's
by Peter Grabarchuk
Checkered capital L-shaped pieces have to create an ordinary 8x8 chessboard. Your goal is just to find their proper positions within it. Guess it will be easy?
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Key Word
Key Word
after Martin Gardner
When the four arrows on the four keys are replaced with some respective letters on them, a very familiar word can be typed with those keys. What word it could be?
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Counting the Triangles
Counting the Triangles
by Henry E. Dudeney
A pentagon divided with five lines proposes us a grid where several triangles are hidden. How fast can you count all of them? Is any method required to do this?
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Shapes & Colors
Shapes & Colors
Every piece in this set has two parameters: shape and color. And they both are very important when you're placing the pieces within a square grid. You'll see why.
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Three Squares
Three Squares
after Lewis Carroll
It almost doesn't cost a thing to draw three squares without taking a pencil off the paper and without crossing the line. Or does it?
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The Rock Climber Maze
The Rock Climber Maze
by Helen Homa and Peter Grabarchuk
Climb up a mountain in a little bit unusual way since all of the mountain's rocks are colored in one of the four colors and your route to the top depends on what color sequence you choose.
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Get 4L
Get 4L
Two containers: 3L and 5L. An immense supply of water. And a "weighted" question: how to get exactly 4L of water with all of this? Can it be solved at all?.. Yes, it can.
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Sunny Walk
Sunny Walk
after Lewis Carroll
A special garden possesses a number of hemispherical stones with paths around them. The challenge is to walk through all the paths in the garden.
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Fill-in-Words
Fill-in-Words
after Martin Gardner
Complete six three-letter words with the missing middle letters in them so that except these words a new six-letter word which would be a name of a sea animal could appear.
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Block Twins
Block Twins
by The Grabarchuk Family
Six shapes, each arranged of unit cubes, are duplicated into a twin-set. Definitely, the twin-set at first glance doesn't look like the original one, but it still contains the same shapes. The goal is to discover all six pairs.
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Digits in the Square
Digits in the Square
by Henry E. Dudeney
This is a 3x3 square grid where the rows are the most important. Nine different digits to be arranged into three numbers observing a special rule. Take a look at it to see the rule...
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The Three Squares
The Three Squares
A simple grid, made from several matches has to be changed into three squares, and only three moves are required. Can you find them?
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The Earth Belt
The Earth Belt
by Martin Gardner
Imagine a steel belt is stretched tightly around a big planet. What things can be possibly slipped under the belt, if a meter of steel added to the belt raises it off the sphere's surface by the same distance all the way around?
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Coin Squad
Coin Squad
by Serhiy Grabarchuk, Jr.
Form a little coin squad, and change then its order by a simple slide the coins in pairs. It really doesn't require the military tactics.
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Crazy Cut Suite
Crazy Cut Suite
after Martin Gardner
Four shapes. It is said each of them can be divided into two identical pieces. The goal is to find the proper positions for the dividing cuts. How complicated the dissection challenges can be?
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Nob's Dozen
Nob's Dozen
by Nob Yoshigahara
Dividing the grid, adding the numbers, comparing the results. One more brilliant brainteaser coming from the great Nob Yoshigahara's puzzle legacy.
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Counting the Squares
Counting the Squares
after Martin Gardner
There are several squares of different sizes hidden in a simple shape. You goal is just to identify the exact number of them, not overlooking even a little single square.
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10-in-5-Rows
10-in-5-Rows
Which template for an orchard do you have to use when you want to plant ten trees in five straight rows of four trees each? Is there any template at all?
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Nob's Phuslulp
Nob's Phuslulp
by Nob Yoshigahara
How many puzzling occasions are we exposed to in our daily routine? This puzzle is one of such occasions when even a minor observation can be converted into a nimble connotation.
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The Five Pennies
The Five Pennies
by Henry E. Dudeney
Maybe it is easy to place four coins in such a way that each coin touches every other one. But what would you say about five coins? Yes, it is possible too.
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The Two Queen Question
The Two Queen Question
A minimax problem: find the maximum and the minimum number of attacked vacant cells of a standard chessboard when there are only two chess queens on it.
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The Rule
The Rule
by Martin Gardner
It is known there is a rule connecting different patterns in each given row of their array. The challenge is to figure out what is the rule and then properly applying it complete the last row of them.
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Switch the Cars
Switch the Cars
Exchange the positions of two cars and after that return the engine to its initial position. And the exchange should be done with the smallest number of couplings and uncouplings.
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Six Numbers
Six Numbers
by Martin Gardner
Solving this puzzle you can circle with a feeling that you're one step before your goal or... one step behind. Is there any kind of joke to get exactly on it?
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Sphere Between Cubes
Sphere Between Cubes
by Peter Grabarchuk
A cube is inscribed in, and a cube is circumscribed outside the same sphere. What are their relative volumes? Any ideas how to calculate them?
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Rose Garden 2
Rose Garden 2
after Henry E. Dudeney
A nobleman has complicated for his gardener the task of planting ten roses in the garden into five lines with four roses in every line. See what the complication really is...
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Nob's H-2-O
Nob's H-2-O
by Nob Yoshigahara
The title of the puzzle describes it quite well. The additional information is that the letters are made of coins and there is a limit on the moves. Go right to the rules to find out more!
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Painting A Cube
Painting A Cube
after Lewis Carroll
Suppose you have an immense supply of wooden cubes and several paint tins each containing a different color of paint. How many differently painted cubes would you be able to produce with such a toolkit?
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Toy Strip Origami
Toy Strip Origami
by Peter Grabarchuk
Three colored strips have to be folded into three colored letters. The key idea is to keep the number of the performed folds as low as possible. Is it a challenge that would be TOY to you?
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Patchwork Quilts
Patchwork Quilts
by Henry E. Dudeney
It is claimed the two patchwork quilts can be successfully joined together in a new one with cutting along the stitches in no more than four pieces in total. Would you dare to complete such a needlework challenge?
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Bugs' Traffic
Bugs' Traffic
after Martin Gardner
The four bugs standing in the corners of a square start to crawl one toward each other. Here comes the question: How far does each bug travel before they all meet?
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In Ancient Greece
In Ancient Greece
by Sam Loyd
Make your own virtual travel to discover the secret of an ancient symbol. The main thing is to make the journey as straight as possible.
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How Many Squares?
How Many Squares?
after Professor Louis Hoffmann
It's the visual one but it's not an illusion. Count how many dot-per-corner squares are hidden in the given figure and don't let the answer square your error.
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Five Routes
Five Routes
after Sam Loyd
Help each of the five men to reach their respective houses without crossing the routes of the rest four. Finding the proper routes leading to the aim is always a good challenge itself.
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Hole in the Sphere
Hole in the Sphere
by Samuel I. Jones
It is known that a cylindrical hole six inches long is drilled straight through the center of a solid sphere. Is this information sufficient for calculating the exact volume remaining in the sphere?
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Square Skate
Square Skate
by Peter Grabarchuk
This little "skate" can be divided into four identical parts which can form a perfect square. The only task is to find these four parts...
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The Four Queens
The Four Queens
after Martin Gardner
Development of the chess queen theme. This time it's in the little shift that no queen can attack another - simply let 'em live in peace on a small chessboard.
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The Cat
The Cat
after Martin Gardner
How many different triangles can you count in the picture of the cat?
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The Mars Tour
The Mars Tour
by Sam Loyd
Travel through all the cities on the Mars' surface so that you can spell a complete English sentence at the end of your trip. There are some doubts if such a trip is ever possible. What would you say?
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Route of the Six Stops
Route of the Six Stops
by Sam Loyd
The Postman's route runs through a dozen of houses, but this day he only needs to visit half of them. The challenge for him is to choose the shortest route. Can you help the Postman with that?
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Choco Fits
Choco Fits
after Boris Kordemsky
One of the proposed seven chocolate pieces can be copied six times in order to fit them into a rectangular chocolate bar. The key questions are what piece is it and what the final chocolate bar should look like?
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A Simple Cryptarithm
A Simple Cryptarithm
by Henry E. Dudeney
A "cryptarithm" stands for a puzzle where you have to reveal the hidden numbers to make some calculations correct. Try this simple classic one.
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The Testa
The Testa
by Henry E. Dudeney
It consists of nine rectangles, it uses five colors, and it reminds you of the "different-colors-in-rows-and-columns" challenge all the way.
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Bridge Puzzle
Bridge Puzzle
It is required to dissect an obtuse triangle into acute triangles only. The first question is whether it is possible at all? If the answer is "Yes", then the next question would be "How?"
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Cut the Q
Cut the Q
Can you cut the Q into two equal parts? Sounds easy?
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Acute Dissection
Acute Dissection
It is required to dissect an obtuse triangle into acute triangles only. The first question is whether it is possible at all? If the answer is "Yes", then the next question would be "How?"
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Crazy Cut
Crazy Cut
The only cut has to be done to divide this strange figure into two identical parts. The question is where it should go through?
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The Bat
The Bat
Make the match bat flying away in another direction. What do you think, how many moves will you need to do this? Just three right moves...
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Coin Distances
Coin Distances
Two distances are associated with three coins. Could you find a certain position of the coins so that the distances are equal? Is there any way how the moving coins can distract you from the mission?
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Starry Sky
Starry Sky
Unite the sixteen stars in the sky in a single constellation with just six connected straight lines. It is not required to be an expert astronomer to complete this starry task.
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The Checkered Six
The Checkered Six
The three-in-one puzzle set. It contains a chessboard and two chess Six's. Every shape has to be composed of the entire set of 12 pieces. And... don't forget to alternate the dark and light cells.
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Magic Triangle 3X
Magic Triangle 3X
The six numbers from 1 to 6 have to be placed along the sides of a triangle so that to create some magic sum along each of its sides. What magic sums can be there?
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Magic Proportions
Magic Proportions
The circus is in town! Four families got tickets for a day of fun under the big top. Each family brought a different number of children and each family had a different favorite act of the day. Determine the full name of each couple, how many children each had, and what each family's favorite act was.
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Cover the Red Circle
Cover the Red Circle
Cover a big circle entirely with the five smaller circles. But keep in mind: when a smaller circle is placed on the big one you aren't allowed to move it anymore.
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The Egg of Columbus
The Egg of Columbus
Break the Egg apart and arrange it in the other way to complete a few extra figures. Explore on your own and invent new shapes!
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The Mutilated Chessboard
The Mutilated Chessboard
Another classic puzzle gem that should bring you an "aha!" no matter, if you solve it by yourself or go right to the solution page. Enjoy the beauty of the logical proof!
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How Many Squares?
How Many Squares?
It's the visual one but it's not an illusion. Count how many dot-per-corner squares are hidden in the given figure and don't let the answer square your error.
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Nine Points
Nine Points
Nine points, four lines, a pencil and... possibly an eraser. Go through all the points not lifting a pencil off the paper.
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Trapezoidal Tangram
Trapezoidal Tangram
A trapezium is divided into five simple pieces. It is stated several more shapes can be created when the pieces are rearranged. What are these shapes? Can you create all of them?
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Four Circles
Four Circles
The four intersecting circles have to be drawn in the traditional way - neither taking a pencil off the paper, nor going over any part of the line twice.
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The Six Pennies
The Six Pennies
Transform the two rows of coins into a perfect hexagon simply sliding them. And there is only one additional spec for the sliding...
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Silhouettes
Silhouettes
If several silhouettes are superimposed in a pile in some certain way a silhouette of a rabbit can appear. Moreover two different rabbit's silhouettes can be obtained. Can you find them both?
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Last Updated: September 12, 2013 top
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