• Allison Lee Pillinger Choi

Treehouse Trivia: 30 Second (Patriotic) Mysteries For Kids

Our kids are having a blast solving the “mysteries” found in 30 Second Mysteries by Spinner Books! And to be very honest, we’re also having a blast playing with them, and watching them engage with us while exercising their minds! The riddles in this “book you can play” are exactly as advertised: “a fun, interactive form of a good old-fashioned whodunit.”

We particularly love the patriotic, civics-oriented riddles. Try some of these sample riddles with your family! Depending on your kids’ ages, it’s easy to ad-lib parts for a younger or older audience. If you are all digging it, order a copy for more brain game family fun with age-appropriate mystery and intrigue!



The Brave Lady In The Night

In the dark of night during the Civil War, a daring woman performed feats that few would even think of. Over many years, she put herself and others in harm’s way with her shocking adventures, but in the end she escaped unharmed. After meeting her, people were never the same again.

The Mystery

Who was this person and what is she famous for?

The Clues

People think of the woman as a great American heroine.

She did her best work in the 1850’s and 1860’s.

She helped countless people make a safe passage.

She traveled on a “railroad.”

Solution

Harriet Tubman is famous for helping to free slaves on the Underground Railroad.


The Puzzling Patriot

An American patriot traveled on a small horse to a faraway village. When he arrived, he placed part of a bird into his clothing. He then did something very strange announcing to everyone that he had some Italian pasta with him.

The Mystery

Who is the patriot and what is the Italian pasta?

The Clues

The first part of the patriot’s name tell you he’s from the North, not the South.

His small horse was a pony.

Most people learn about the patriot in a song.

He put a feather in his cap.

Solution

The patriot is Yankee Doodle Dandy and the pasta is macaroni


The Cemetery Speech

In wartime, a tall man gives a moving speech at a Pennsylvania cemetery. People are sad for the dead, but the man’s words make them feel better. Even though he only speaks for about two minutes, the man’s words remain important through many generations.

The Mystery

Who gave the speech and what was it called?

The Clues

The speech took place during the Civil War.

This man was the president, and he was later assassinated.

The speech starts with these words: “Fourscore and seven years ago…”

He gave the speech for the men lost in a famous battle.

The Solution

President Lincoln gave the famous speech, called the “Gettysburg Address.”


Unseen Sam

Sam has lived in the United States all his life. He likes the military but doesn’t like wars. He works for the government but isn’t in politics. Everyone feels they are related to him, but no one has actually ever met him.

The Mystery

Who is Sam?

The Clues

He started working during World War I and has been working ever since.

He is always seen on posters pointing at people and telling them, “I Want You…”

He has white hair and a beard and he always wears a hat.

He represents patriotism.

The Solution

He is Uncle Sam.

Where’s Wyatt?

Wyatt rides his bike out of a big city. As he travels, he sees water on either side of him and two orange towers above him. After about 15 minutes Wyatt stops, turns around and admires a tall pyramid.

The Mystery

Where has Wyatt stopped?

The Clues

It is foggy, but Wyatt can see an old prison on an island in the distance.

On the right side of Wyatt is a bay, on his left is the Pacific Ocean.

Wyatt rode past a tollbooth.

Wyatt is in San Francisco.

The Solution

Wyatt has stopped on the Golden Gate Bridge.



The Huge Hole

Four reddened people walk to the edge of a hole, where they stop and gaze in. This starts to make them dizzy, so they look out (not down) at the rocks before them. Soon, they climb onto animals and begin their long journey into the hole.

The Mystery

Where are these people?

The Clues

The animals are burros.

The people are sunburned because this place get pretty hot.

The hole is one mile deep and has been a national park since 1919.

It’s located in Arizona.

The Solution

They are in the Grand Canyon.



The Trip to Nowhere

On a three-day weekend in May, Moss hops into his car in Indiana and begins to drive. He drives for hours in one direction, going hundreds of miles. When Moss stops the car and gets out, he’s still in Indiana. In fact, he’s in the same place that he started.

The Mystery

Where is Moss?

The Clues

Moss drove in this state last year at the same time.

Moss is doing his job.

Moss is in Indiana’s capital city.

Moss often drives more than 100 miles per hour without getting a speeding ticket.

The Solution

Moss is driving in the Indianapolis 500.


Thanks, But No Thanks

A man enters a sweepstakes and is notified by mail that he has won third prize: a new refrigerator. The man has a home, but does not have a fridge. Even though there are no hidden costs and he needs to keep his family’s food cold, he turns down the prize.

The Mystery

Where in the US does the man live and what is his home called?

The Clues

The man is a fisherman who built his house by himself.

The man’s home is white.

The man lives in the largest US state.

The man usually uses snow to keep his food cold.

The Solution

The man lives in Alaska in an igloo.


Julio’s Home

Julio is an American citizen born in 1996. He has never been out of the country, but he has also never entered a single US state. He could easily take the bus to two of them but he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet.

The Mystery

Where does Julio live?

The Clues

Julio lives in the North American continent.

Julio lives in a capital city.

Julio lives near the Smithsonian Institution and Capitol Hill.

The two states near Julio’s house are Virginia and Maryland.

The Solution

Julio liv