Brain Teaser Manipulative Puzzles for Kids

What does a gifted child like more than an intellectual challenge? No, that's not a riddle! That's a real question. Gifted kids, no matter what their specialized interests, pretty much all love an intellectual challenge. They love puzzles and using logic and reason to come with solutions.

The puzzles listed here are perfect for these kids. Not only do they offer some mental challenges, but they are portable! They can easily be carried in a purse or a backpack. They can be taken to school, to restaurants, and on road trips — anywhere kids might find themselves with some time to fill. That doesn't mean the kids won't be playing with these brainteasers at home. In fact, the whole family, including both mom and dad, will pick these puzzles up and find it hard to put them back down.


IcoSoKu Brainteaser Puzzle

This puzzle ball is like a cross between a Rubric's cube and Sudoku. It is a handheld puzzle made up of twenty triangular tiles with zero to three dots on each of their corners. There are yellow circular pegs on the ball around which the triangles are placed. Each peg has a number on it and the object is to fit five triangles around each peg so that the numbers of dots on the corners of the triangles pointing to the yellow peg add up to the number on the peg.

So, if a peg has the number 6 on it, the numbers on the five triangle corners have to add up to 6. Sound easy? If so, then you might not realize that there is more than one peg. There are more than two pegs. There are ten. All the corners have to add up the numbers on all the pegs all at the same time! 

Every math lover in the family will enjoy the challenge of this puzzle. Ages 7 and up

ThinkFun Gordians Knot

ThinkFun Gordians Knot

The Gordians Knot is a type of interlocking puzzle, which is one is a challenge not just to put together but to take apart as well. This brainteaser puzzle has an interesting history. The Gordian’s Knot is tied to Alexander the Great. Whether or not you find the history of this puzzle interesting, you will certainly find the puzzle itself interesting and so will your child.

If you think taking the puzzle apart is going to be a piece of cake, consider the fact that it will take 69 moves to do it! If anyone in the family gets stuck putting it back together, they'll find the included instructions helpful. Ages 8 and up

Rubik's Cube

Rubiks Cube

Who doesn't know about Rubik's cube? In case you're one of those who doesn't, Rubik's cube is basically a cube made of smaller different colored cubes, nine on each of the six sides.

When you first get the cube, you'll find the side of the cube is made up of smaller cubes of the same color, so, for example, one side will be green, one white, one red, one yellow, one blue and so on. The fun begins when you twist the sides of the large cube around mixing up the colors. The goal is to get all the cubes of the same color to appear on the same sides again.

The game is said to have 43 "quintillion" moves, but just one solution. It's recommended for kids 8 and up, but some younger kids who are great with puzzles and logic might have some fun too!

Recent Toys Brainstring Advanced

Recent Toys Brainstring Advanced

This puzzle can be relatively easy or hard to solve. It all depends on how much you tangle the strings up in a knot in the middle. To untangle the strings, you pull the rubber tips and slide the colored strings through the open slots of the ball. The idea is to get the same colors on the same side.

It's as much fun to tangle the strings back up too, for the next time or next person who wants to try to solve it. Ages 7 and up

Winning Moves Instant Insanity Game

Winning Moves Instant Insanity Game

This puzzle looks deceptively simple. The goal is to arrange the four blocks so that all four sides of the puzzle have one square of each color. 

It sounds easy, but it looks and sounds easier than it is! Ages 7 and up

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.