Teaching Deductive Reasoning – Logic Puzzles for Kids

Engage, Math
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Logic puzzles build deductive reasoning – and they’re fun! First, teach your kids how to eliminate possibilities. That way, they can uncover solutions. Then teach them to create their own situations and clues.

Logic Puzzles for Kids Cover

Ms. Sneed Teaches Logic Puzzles

Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, stood at the front of her classroom. “Today,” she said, “we will continue our mystery activities.”

Everyone cheered. At the beginning of their mystery unit, they had played observation games. Then they cracked secret codes. Most recently, the class had played around with invisible ink and fingerprinting. One thing for sure: they loved it!

“Who has solved a logic puzzle?” the teacher asked. Several hands flew in the air. However, many of the students looked unsure.

“This involves deductive reasoning,” Ms. Sneed continued. “First, you will be presented with a situation. For example, in our first puzzle, four people own four pets. With just a few clues, you will find out who owns which pet.” As she talked, she walked around the room distributing the pages.

Kids love solving logic puzzles! Just teach them how to use deductive reasoning by eliminating choices.

Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

“Can anyone give some pointers? How will you use this grid?” Several hands shot up.

“You use checks and exes,” called out a girl with braids. “If it’s not true, put an ex. But if it’s true, put a check. Additionally, if only one blank is left in a row or column, it must be true.”

Ms. Sneed nodded. “Great advice! Now let’s get started.” She circulated around the room helping kids who were new to the concept.

Kids Play Online

Over the next week or so, students solved five more logic puzzles. At first, some were leery of the process. Soon, however, they clamored for more.

“Some of you are ready for a greater challenge,” Ms. Sneed told her class. “Therefore, I’ve sent you a link to Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles. You can choose your own level of difficulty. But I’m warning you, it’s addictive!”

The Class Makes Their Own Logic Puzzles

The following day, Ms. Sneed had a surprise for her class. “Today we will make our own logic puzzles.”

Her students looked at one another in wonder. Some looked elated; others, a little scared.

“Let me talk you through one,” their teacher said. She displayed a blank table.

“I’ve shared this TpT Digital Activity with you. As you can see, it’s part of our mystery activities set.” She pointed to the “Think Like a Detective” theme at the top of the page.

Getting Started

“First, you will establish a situation and think about the types of clues you’ll use. For example, I’ve decided on a Thanksgiving dinner situation.” She typed as she talked. “Five family members sit at a round table. Each has a favorite side dish. To figure out who likes what, I’ll use their positions at the table, genders, and food categories.

“Second, you will label the first column and row.” In the first column, she typed the names. “As you can see, I use names that will help people match the gender. In other words, I wouldn’t use a name like Chris. Why? Obviously, that name is gender-neutral.” Then she wrote five foods across the first row. “Furthermore, I select foods that can be categorized. For example, potatoes, stuffing, and mac and cheese are starchy. In addition, potatoes and green beans are vegetables. You get the idea.”

Kids can make their own logic puzzles! Begin with a blank table. Add a situation. Then fill in the first row and column. Use check marks to indicate matches.

Ms. Sneed checked off one food for each person. “Finally, I mark who likes what.”

Adding Clues

The teacher took a deep breath. “Okay, now we’ll add clues. This is the tricky part. We don’t want the clues to be too easy or too hard. Instead, use the Goldilocks principle: just right.”

She took another breath. “Let’s say that Ruth doesn’t like starchy food. That makes them think. But it’s not too hard to eliminate potatoes, stuffing, and mac and cheese.”

Ms. Sneed put exes for those foods next to Ruth’s name.

To create your own logic puzzle, begin with the situation. Add clues and ex them off as you go.

“You can use easy clues too. For example, we’ll just tell them that Tom likes potatoes.” She circled the check in that box and exed all other foods for Tom. In addition, she exed potatoes for all other people.

When you build your own logic puzzle, make some clues easy.

Ms. Sneed paused for a moment. “Hmm. Next, let’s try something with gender. If we say that Quentin’s mom likes green beans, that eliminates both Quentin and Tom. We’ll also say that Ciara doesn’t like them.”

Gender can be another clue when making your own logic puzzles.

Ms. Sneed typed another easy clue. “If we say Maria likes vegetables, we’ll have only two boxes left.”

Eliminate more and more choices when using deductive reasoning.

“Finally, we’ll say that Maria is allergic to cheese. Ta-da!” Ms. Sneed beamed at her complete logic puzzle and took a bow. Playing along, her students clapped and cheered loudly.

Deductive reasoning at its best

Enjoy Teaching

Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.


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