The answer to this riddle – along with others – can assist develop understanding in children, writes Diane Bourke. mmsanotherstage2019.component of our finest of The parents Website series.

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Intrigued by the educational power of riddles, i frolic with them anytime I uncover an opening. Recently, ns asked my six-year-old grandson, ‘Why can not the flower drive the bike?’ He conveniently answered, ‘Because it had actually no pedals’, and also chuckled boisterously. Ns joined in the fun, clutching him carefully – because that’s those expected once you play through riddles, isn’t it?

(This additionally highlights yes, really that an essential element in humour is an expertise by the son that they space sharing an experience with another person.)

Initially i felt proud, thinking my nephew had interpreted the ‘play on words’ between pedal and petal, yet then realised, as our laughter subsided, he had merely reply the riddle literally, and laughed because he believed that was intended of him.

My curiosity was aroused so I went back to the riddle. Ns spoke the aloud, asking myself the inquiry this time, interpreting the riddle for him to boost the efficiency of the finding out process.

‘Granny, why couldn’t the flower ride the bike?’ after ~ a deliberate pause, I began articulating my thinking process, speak aloud about what to be happening in my mind: ‘A flower has actually petals, a bike has actually pedals, oh my quality those native sound alike.

‘Maybe it’s since it’s petals dropped off.’

Initially the looked in ~ me through a empty stare, then an enormous grin spread over his confront as he shouted, ‘Petals, pedals, I get it!’

For him, it was a minute of cognitive clarity, realising the language deserve to be manipulated. He had actually joined what Providence College’s Marcy Zipke call the ‘language manipulation club’.


Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, who theories stress the an essential role of social interaction, believed that humorous interaction of this form facilitate a child’s cognitive development. In share riddles, ns was likewise leading my nephew to usage his higher cognitive skills, important to it is adapted to brand-new situations in life. So, the currently of riddles kept flowing.

Why perform leopards never ever escape indigenous the zoo? since they are always spotted.

Why is the letter ‘e’ lazy? because it’s constantly found in bed.

Have you viewed a cricket bat? No, yet I’ve seen a dog bowl.

All youngsters love indigenous play when offered the opportunity and riddles and jokes provide the perfect medium for learning how to manipulate language and assist them construct metalinguistic awareness (the capacity to analyse, think about or manipulate language as an item separate from its an interpretation in or the end of context). Offered that the English language cannot always be taken literally this is very important.

Think of several of the most typical words in English. Countless are multiply ambiguous. Think of can, pen, ball, and play and mmsanotherstage2019.come up v two meanings for each. Then there room words like or flour and also flower, bare and bear or to, too and also two. And also even much more confusingly take into consideration the various interpretations of bow and bow and also close and close.

Identify and enjoy indigenous such as these anytime the possibility arises. Drawing pictures of every of the indigenous is likewise a fun task which introduces further clarity because that children.


These faint words have the right to be defined really broadly as homonyms and homophones (sound alike words) and also homographs (same spelling, different pronunciation). They can bring confusion to us all (I’ve contained a city at the end of the article to add further interest). Pointing out these ambiguities can aid children know that several of our words carry out indeed have multiple meanings.

What is the difference in between a bus driver and also a cold? One knows the stops, the other stops the nose.

Why is 6 afraid of seven? because seven ate nine.

What happens once a frog breaks down? It gets toad away.

Alternatively, there room structural riddles, where youngsters realise that the mental pictures they are building in their minds perform not do sense. In such cases, they should retrace their steps, think further about the words and discover two meanings.

Will you sign up with me in a bowl of pasta? do you think over there is room for both the us?

What has six wheel and flies? A garbage truck.

See, too, if your children can uncover the anomaly in sentences favor ‘A boiled egg every morning is tough to beat’.


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Metalinguistic awareness is an essential ingredient in finding out to spell and also to understand words however in analysis it mmsanotherstage2019.comes to the fore. The ability to reflect upon and also manipulate language is an essential for reading mmsanotherstage2019.comprehension.

Understanding that words and also sentences have the right to have an ext than one definition improves children reading understanding by enabling them to think flexibly. There is no this form of understanding, reading have the right to be an activity involving nothing much more than indigenous calling.

A fascinating study, performed by Zipke et al in 2008 with Year 3 students, found that simply two hrs of indict in identify homonyms, understanding and writing riddles and also reading ambiguous texts raised students’ metalinguistic awareness, their understanding monitoring, and also their reading mmsanotherstage2019.comprehension.

Think of the power you together a parent need to support your young kids by being on the lookout for ambiguous language mmsanotherstage2019.come share, especially in the type of riddles. Alternatively, you can laugh together with stories such as those indigenous the Amelia Bedelia series.

Be mindful, too, the children’s ability to recognize what lock read, and the degree to which they appreciate well-written literature, deserve to have an overpowering repercussion on their totality lives.

Back now however to wherein it every began. I received a phone call last night from my grandson. On answering ns heard, ‘Granny, exactly how does the male in the moon reduced his hair?’ ~ bantering v him for part time, ns was ultimately given the answer: ‘Eclipse.’


I take it it you currently knowOf tough and bough and cough and dough?Others may stumble, however not you,On hiccough, thorough, lough and through.Well done! and also now friend wish, perhapsTo discover of less familiar traps?Beware that heard, a dreadful word,that looks favor beard and sounds like bird.And dead: it’s said favor bed not bead–For goodness sake don’t speak to it deed.Watch the end for meat and great and threatA moth is not a moth in motherNor both in bother, broth in brother.And here is not a enhance for there,Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.And climate there’s dose and rose and lose–Just look at them up – and goose and choose,And core and work, and card and ward.And font and front and word and sword.And do and go and thwart and cart–mmsanotherstage2019.come, mmsanotherstage2019.come, i’ve hardly do a start!A tragic language? man alive,I’d master it once I was five!

– T.S Watt

For more information on to teach children about riddles, take it a look in ~ this analysis Rockets article.

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This post was very first published in 2018, and is republished as part of our finest of The parents Website series.