Click the link to listen to this post. Yes, I want to hear the May 19, 2011 blog post and a bonus riddle!
What’s short in delivery, long in effect, and can add fun to a lesson? You got it: a riddle!
Have you ever used riddles with your students? Because the typical riddle is short, riddles can be used individually or as a collection depending on your time frame and purpose. Do you simply want to engage students at the start of a lesson on a rainy Monday morning, or do you want to contextualize an upcoming language point in a fresh way? No matter how you use riddles, they always prompt thought and often evoke laughter. Here are some suggestions:
- Declare next week “Riddle Week” and start off each class with a riddle. Post one on the board and/ or on your class website. Give the answer to the riddle on the following day. On the last day, have students submit their own riddles. Edit and post for all to enjoy.
- Select riddles that target the grammar you’re studying as part of your regular curriculum. For example, many riddles are in the present tense to illustrate general truths: What goes up, but never comes down? Children celebrate it. Adults sometimes fear it. Women try to hide it. [Answer: one’s age] You can choose only one riddle to lead into a grammar presentation, or you may share 3-4 riddles at once. Scramble the answers and ask students to match them to the correct riddles. After the matches are made, highlight the grammar. Common grammar structures used in riddles include comparatives and superlatives, adverb clauses (if, although, when, etc.), and wh- questions.
- Have students compose riddles to practice vocabulary. Assign each student a key word and request a riddle using that word. Example: [perceive] It spins and moves in a circle to create a heavenly dance. But its movements happen so slowly that it’s difficult for us to perceive them. What is it? [Answer: Earth] Each riddle can be read aloud and students can call out their guesses before the author reveals the answer.
Online collections of riddles: