When I was a kid, I always loved games and puzzles! I had numerous puzzle books full of word searches, crossword puzzles, brain teasers, and more. I loved Sudoku puzzles and had a whole book of them that I would spend hours doing every day. I also would open up the newspaper every morning when I ate breakfast and complete the daily Sudoku puzzle. My teacher introduced them to me when I was in the seventh grade. She would pass out different puzzles each day for us to complete when we were finished with our work. I was instantly addicted! Recently, I think I spent about 4 hours on one puzzle with my friend because we were so determined to finish it!
Recently, I came across a new puzzle game on The Math Forum Facebook page called KenKen. It’s a mixture of Sudoku and math all in one. It was discovered in 2007 by Robert Fuhrer, a toy inventor, who came across the puzzles published in Japanese books. Fuhrer’s toy company and chess International Master David Levy brought these puzzles to the attention of The Times in London and the puzzles were published in the newspaper in 2008. The New York Times and hundreds of other papers followed by publishing these fun, educational puzzles years later.
I was really confused when I came across my first KenKen puzzle, but was able to pick up the rules quickly. The object of the puzzle is similar to Sudoku – fill in the grid with different numbers without repeating a number twice in the same column or row - but now there is a math element involved, in which the numbers must combine to form a target number using a specific operation.
I haven’t played too many KenKen puzzles yet, but when my brain needs a break at work, I like to go on my KenKen App on my iPad and practice some puzzles. Just as I loved to complete Sudoku puzzles every day in school, I think students would enjoy completing these fun puzzles in the classroom. They would be helping them improve their calculation skills, logical thinking, and persistence. I think they’re the perfect way for kids to master new math concepts and practice with different operations!