In less than a year the Sudoku bug has infected huge numbers of the UK population, and it is fast spreading across the world! Why has a simple logic puzzle become so popular, and how can your kids benefit?
Sudoku puzzles were first published in the US in the 1970s and are sometimes known as "Number Squares". They have been popular for many years in Japan, where the name "Sudoku" (meaning "single number") was coined. The current craze was started late in 2004 when a UK newspaper started publishing the puzzles. Within weeks the puzzles were picked up in other newspapers and Sudoku became the pastime of choice for commuters, parents – and even kids!
From a parent’s point of view, Sudoku puzzles are perfect for long journeys, waiting rooms, and rainy afternoons. They are being found more and more in the classroom as teachers wake up to their benefits and use them as time-fillers for children who finish early, as whole class activity, or as "homework". Indeed, the UK government-produced Teachers magazine has recommended that Sudoku puzzles are used in the classroom as brain exercise!
As well as developing your child's logic and reasoning skills and concentration, Sudoku puzzles, if done at the right level, build your child's confidence. Children of all abilities enjoy the challenge of a Sudoku puzzle, if the puzzle is age-appropriate. Bear in mind that many of the puzzles published in newspapers are too difficult for younger children, so it is worth seeking out puzzles made especially for kids. Children as young as five years old can try the 4x4 grids, then build up to the 6x6 grids and finally the traditional 9x9 sudoku grid.
Why are Sudoku so appealing? Firstly, although Sudoku grids usually use numbers, your child does not need mathematical skills to solve the puzzles – only logic. Using logical reasoning appropriate to his/her age, your child decides how to place numbers into a Sudoku grid. There is only one correct answer for each puzzle, no guessing is necessary, and the rules are easy to learn. The more puzzles you do, the better you become. Each puzzle typically takes a child about 20-30 minutes to complete, and gives them a real sense of satisfaction when finished!
And that, really, is the secret of their popularity. You feel good when you finish one! And then you want to try another one, and another ….
Lindsay Small is the owner of Activity Village, packed full of fun and educational activities for kids. Do you have children aged 2-10? Visit http://www.ActivityVillage.co.uk to find free kids crafts, printables, educational resources, worksheets, coloring pages and puzzles, jigsaws and, of course, Sudoku puzzles!
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